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Couch to 5K
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Heart Rate Monitor

Hey, I know that some folks on here run with a HRM.

I'm wondering if anybody has come across a good guide for using them. Ideally something targeted at the likes of us who are relatively new to running and not running "experts".

I have a HRM that came with my Garmin Forerunner 220, but I've yet to take it out of the box.

At times I struggle with my runs due to pacing issues, mostly when I think I ought to be able to go a bit faster than I have done so try and run to a specific mins/km. Like this morning I decided I ought to try and keep my pace between 6:45 and 7:15 and struggled a bit (and ultimately failed).

I'm thinking I might be better off running to a heart rate rather than a time, but I know nothing about it and any guides I've found so far seem to assume a lot more knowledge and (running) ability than I have.

11 Replies

I've got a Mio link wrist HRM. It links to my Garmin, and also has a flashing LED on it that changes colour according to the zone you're in.

I think it would be hard to alter your pace dynamically during a run. I just keep an eye on my results and see what my heart rate has been doing to make sure I'm not doing too much or too little. Personally, I'm going to be running to an average pace, and learn what's right or too much for me. Yesterday I tried to run 5k to a 6:30 pace, and was ok for the first 3k but struggled a little in the 4th k. I ended up managing 6:36 overall (and a new PB).

That run was here: connect.garmin.com/modern/a... and you can see my HR plotted.


I saw your post yesterday Steve, it was actually one of the things that inspired me to try and run at a certain pace.

I had been pondering the HRM thing before though.


Hi Peter,

HRM is really useful as it helps notify you if you are pushing yourself too hard (or not hard enough). There are tables that tell you what you should be operating at, based on your age and what type of exercise you are trying to do.

As you say, it might be a better indicator than pace.

Don't have one for my watch - maybe a good excuse to upgrade!! :-)


I am also looking at getting an HRM Peter, the Mio Link too as it happens.

When looking into the practical use and benefits for relative beginners, I couldn't find a comprehensive single source. In general though it takes quite a lot of analysis to find the correlation between your current heart rate, current pace and the energy/resources you body has already used earlier in the run.

I haven't decided whether it is worth the 'investment' for me yet.


I was interested in HR because I'd been told I had an unusually high resting HR, over 100. What I've noticed is that, looking at the run stats after a run, you can correlate various levels of HR to pace, how you feel, etc. So you can alter your run to make sure you're in the right zones at the right time. My run from today, for example connect.garmin.com/modern/a... at a slower pace, even though I found it hard work, showed a very different HR profile to yesterday connect.garmin.com/modern/a... at a higher pace. The maximum HR was almost 10 BPM lower in today's and average more than 10 lower. You can see it was an easier run, cardiovascular-wise.

BTW my resting HR is now almost down to 80. Because of running.


Sure but what you can see in your run from today is that there is a steady/gentle rise in your heart rate throughout your, pretty much even paced run. Over a longer distance (lets say 15km) one could reasonably expect a difference of 20bpm between the beginning and the end of a steady even paced run over that distance which needless to say makes a huge difference.

Most of the guides out there are written for experienced runners whose hearts have developed/adapted much more than mine/ours.

I have mentioned before that I am a bit of a stats freak and adding/analysing heart rate data would be interesting for me, I am just not sure that I am at the stage where it would particularly beneficial for me.


I just wanted to know what mine was. What seems to happen over the course of a run is that my heart rate gradually increases to what I guess is close to its maximum (maybe 175-180) as the effort requires more oxygen, demanding more blood from the heart. That's the point at which you can't increase or even sustain the work rate, and you slow down or have to stop.

I guess for a longer run, like a 10k, you need to keep the pace at a rate that can be supported by the heart. I was interested in the run today, in that although my HR stayed fairly moderate, I still felt tired!


Fair dinkum!

I will wait and see. It might be another addition to the, ever growing, graduation gift (to myself) list.

I have to say though that the Mio Link is a very neat piece of kit.


I have been using a HRM for about a year now - and have studied a lot about them and their use during training. They are very useful - but to get the most out of them you really need to know your maximum heart rate ( which you cant really get by using a mathematical formula)

It is generally accepted that the best use of a HRM is to keep your HR low and force you to run slowly and easily over long distances to establish a sound aerobic foundation. With HR "creep" as discussed above, if you cannot keep the HR in the low numbers that you want, you have to resort to walking (especially up hills)

I have used mine so much now that I really know what my "zones" are - and I can run within those zones by using my breathing patterns to regulate my pace.


I'd be interested to hear more about that, Bazza. Are you saying we shouldn't be exerting ourselves too much?


if you look at most training plans, you can see that generally they have easy running days and hard (sometimes referred to as Quality) running days.

In a nutshell, it is said that amateurs (like us) do their easy days too hard and do their hard days too easy !! :)

Most running training is done at an easy pace - which is sometimes quite an uncomfortable pace to run at until your body gets used to it - so we naturally all run a more comfortable pace which usually is too hard! And we don't run hard enough on the hard days - well because it is so hard!! :)

So anyway, for the bulk of our training which is meant to be easy - a HRM is a good way of forcing us to run more slowly and at a low HR for longer. You will find all kinds of "rules" on the Internet - eg the 80% easy/20% hard rule, the long run =25% of total weekly mileage rule, the increase mileage by only 10% per week rule, etc :) But JuicyJu ignored all those rules - and she still completed her marathon :) :)


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