Couch to 5K

running for fitness?

I've just started using a heart rate monitor whilst running and well it seems just a good idea. It doesn't matter where you run the temperature , or pace or distance. OK you have to start to understand a bit about how muscles work. This side though seems quite interesting. It be interested to hear from people who have used heart rates to monitor their running progress and to know how they got on?

8 Replies

HRMs are quite a complex matter. My problem has been trying to ascertain my true max HR, because without that it is impossible to estimate which zones you are exercising in. I only use mine sporadically and it does illustrate that since I first used it a year ago, my heat rate has reduced for a known route at the same pace and my recovery time has also improved drastically.

The HRM does help you to learn what different efforts feel like against the quantifiable data of your heart rate, but all in all I don't personally think it is worth getting too tied up in all those statistics.


yeah. Its just a bit of fun and hopefully another way to show that things are going in the right direction.


I have used HRM training "on and off" over the past 18 months. I "think" that my max HR is about 160-165 -- I have been working to 160 until recently, when I did a hard 5K parkrun and saw 163 max on my HRM.

BUT -- I am not that certain if it matters that much - ( knowing exact max HR) - because every trainer/training programme seems to say different levels of effort for different types of run. Some will say to run aerobically between 60-75% of maxHR while others may say 65-80%, etc. For any given max HR, the numbers are different!

Others will say to use % of Heart Rate Reserve rather than max HR ( and this does make sense to me -- BUT the %'s that they quote do not give the same numbers as their quoted %'s for maxHR!!

For me I have attempted to estimate as closely as I can what my maxHR is and then run certain runs at %'s of that -- it may not be "optimal" but I am not a budding Olympic Champion, so sub-optimal training suits me fine!! :)

The one thing that HRM training has shown me is just how slow I have to run to keep easy and long runs below 75% of maxHR -- so slow that I have basically given away the idea and now do runs according to my breathing pattern -- 4/4 is a slow run, 3/3 is a tempo/5K race run, 2/2 is for when I am trying to "show off" in the last couple of hundred metres before the Parkrun finish line :)


ok sounds interesting can you remind me what 4/4, 3/3 and 2/2 mean please?



Imagine you are in a band - and you are the drummer( a running drummer) . As you run along with your drums , you bang the drum every time a foot ( belonging to you) hits the ground. . If you banged your drum while walking, it would be very slow with little effort so you can breathe any way you like - even sing along as you go along :) BUT - once you start running it is a different situation - you need more air and you have to concentrate a little more on getting it. The faster you go, the more you have to concentrate :)

So the 4/4,3/3,2/2 , etc - refers to the number or beats of the drum (your feet hitting the ground) that you hear while you are breathing in ( 4) and breathing out (4) . So for me, this is usually for slowish running - as I speed up, I go to 3/3 and when I am sprinting towards the finish line of a 5K, I am breathing 2/2. I have never gotten to 1/1 - I will have to try it sometime, but I suspect that I would be hyperventilating at that rate :)


thanks bazza, good clear explanation. Much appreciated.


I use mine on every run. My heart rate naturally runs a bit high, I have had it checked out with the doctors and its one of the reasons I run/walk. The training zones don't make very much sense to me as as soon as I run my heart rate works its way up to 188. I have never mastered slow, medium or fast runs. I am on the slower end of the running scale and I burn out really fast if I try and speed up. I think over time run walking my heart rate is getting better with the run sections and I really hope one day it will allow me to run fully. Every now and then I go out for a 30 min run just to prove I can but the stats from my HRM are a bit scary and it takes me days to get over so I don't do it too often. as with everything to do with running make it work for you. I like to use the calorie counting side of mine as well as a watchful eye.




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