Heart rate monitoring - yes or no?

Following on from yatesco' s post about heart rate monitoring, I am curious to know who out there does and doesn't do it?! It does pop up a lot on this forum so I guess it is a valuable tool for some?! Although very much in the 'if it works for you' camp, I am not someone who would ever consider monitoring my heart rate (it would only become something to worry about for me😮) and I seem to be progressing fairly well without by listening to and responding to my own body. The fitness industry isn't doing too well out of me I'm afraid! My favourite gadget is still my free Runkeeper app and although I have recently bought a Garmin Forerunner 10 (very basic and don't use all the features on that!) I really only like to track my time, distance and look at my splits after a run. I keep a very half hearted eye on my pace too but not on all runs. Perhaps I am a little unusual in this day and age but it works for me - as I'm sure the hrm does for others. 😀 Has heart rate monitoring progressed your running beyond what it would without, or are you more of a 'free' runner (iykwim!). Answers on a postcard please....!

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35 Replies

  • Im with you Sandra, Im not sure I'd want to know if my hearts on the verge of bursting !

    I know a lot of people use them on here , each to their own, whatever flops yer mop !

    I find it far too brain taxing and complicated for me, a Garmin 10 is absolutely enough for me :-) xxx

  • With you too, pp.... I have enough trouble getting my music switched on sometimes!!!

  • Modern technology has somehow passed me by, Floss :-) xxx

  • Moi aussi....:)

    Practising my French, ready for my hols in the Summer!!!! :)

  • They're a great way of making sure you don't overdo things if you're prone to pushing a bit too hard a lot of the time. I do find myself wondering whether more people would be off the Injury couch if they used one, especially at the beginning of C25k when you don't necessarily know what niggles are just because of effort and ones that should make you stop.

  • To be honest I wouldn't know where to start, it's taken me long enough to learn how to start/stop and pause the podcasts. When I see posts with lots of numbers, they scare me. I'm fascinated by people's interest in figures, and when i understand what I'm reading, I must admit to being interested, but in a vague 'yeah that's clever' sort of way not a 'lets run out and pay £300+ for a gadget that tells me that' sort of way.

  • That's understandable, I wouldn't have spent money just for HR monitoring either. Though I would now :-) I don't think it would have to cost that much though :-)

  • I'm intrigued by it all and may research a little deeper. I always think it's more of an 'athlete' thing, which I'm clearly not, but it makes sense to optimise plodding efforts :)

  • It very much depends on what I am trying to achieve with my training as to what I monitor. If were doing tempo runs to improve speed, I would wear my HRM, and at the other end of the spectrum if were doing long slow runs for endurance. When I was marathon training for example I found it very useful to look at the HRM data over the course of a long run, how quickly my heart rate returned to 'normal' after hills on the course, that sort of thing. When I do tempo runs it is useful to see in real time when i am pushing hard enough - the mistake we often make is not to push hard enough on hard runs and to go too hard on easy runs, and HR is a great way of gauging that.

    If I am not doing those things then I don't. I can't remember the last time I used my HRM on a run tbh. I don't bother recording distance or even starting my watch when I go out these days in fact, because my aim is just 30 or 60 minutes of moderate cardio, and distance/pace is not really relevant to that.

  • I used a HRM to discover that I was going way too fast on most of my runs and so brought my speed down until my Heart Rate was at a more sustainable level. This is my new base speed that I will complete the C25K course at and I won't look to increase my speed again until I've graduated.

  • I love my Forerunner 10, it gives me what I need. It's interesting reading stats, but I don't think I'd like running with something strapped around my chest.

  • With you totally...I have a Garmin Forerunner 10 too.. and only use certain features when I remember...duh! Like you, I listen to my body and just do a resting BP and heart rate check after some runs... like you too, I think I might worry too much :)

    Also, because I feel I am not heading for any great distances or speeds etc... and am just doing normal ( for me) runs and in no particular time frame... it is not necessary. :)

  • hi there,

    I don't think all the gadgets are necessary to enjoy and improve at running.

    However it is very much my thing. I'm just fascinated by it and look at every running stat possible. I love looking to see how fast I've run---I think its a miracle to see the map of the route I've taken. I love reading about it too. I just enjoy it.

  • I don't I am with you Sandraj39 but no GPS watch either, I could be tempted towards a watch if I knew for sure it would sync up to satellites quicker and 100% of the time

    As for HRM again could be persuaded if there was goid evidence of improvement ☺

    Am open to persuasion ☺

  • The garmins I have trialled (vivoactive, FR235 and FR630) all sync within a second or two of stepping outside.

    From reading I understand the Polar M400 (which is an absolute bargain!) is the most accurate according to some.

  • Heart rate monitors are used to track your progress as you become fitter; to check for overtraining (by measuring your heart rate when you first wake up) and to help you judge your pace. They are, however, expensive; and they are certainly not a necessary piece of equipment unless you choose to base your training on heart rate training zones.

    I have used one, but haven't been bothering lately, just nice to check the distance & pace on the Garmin, and download it with the trail onto the laptop..

  • Expensive? You think? Price of a Garmin/Suunto HRM strap is about £30-40 or so, and the standalone ones they have in Lidl and Aldi when they have their running weeks is £12-15. I don't find that particularly expensive either in real terms or in running gear terms. I have socks that cost that.

  • No. When I got my Garmin 220 I had the option of buying a HRM but I declined. I would have to wear a belt around my chest and that really put me off. I know you can now get a wrist strap but I'm not that bothered about knowing what my heart rate is. I know my body well enough to determine when to drop back if I think my heart rate is racing and likewise when I need to push more. I just think I'd get a bit paranoid if I had a HRM. Anyway, if I die when I'm out running really fast with the wind in my hair, then what a way to go 💨💨💨

  • at the moment I am happy with the free app on my phone to track distance and time out, it also gives me splits but I don't look at these until I stop, in fact I don't look at anything if I'm doing a route I've done before. I also do some work outs on an exercise bike which likes to tell me my heart rate, but I really have no idea of the significance of the figures! Just that the highest my heart rate goes is 130-40 when I'm really pushing and its normally around 100-110 when I've been on it for a while It also has a recovery button where you stop ,keeping your hands on the sensors on the handle bars ,and it counts down for a minute then tells you a fitness level ranging from f1 super fit, down to f6 seriously unfit. I used to get f3 before I did c25k , with occasional f4, but now I get f2 which seems to show my recovery rate has improved although how useful or how to use this info I don't really know, I 'm just happy I have had an improvement!

  • Very early on when I first started out this running thing - I read somewhere a statement that "we run because we can - not because we know how to" . The article proposed the argument that people THINK that running comes perfectly natural to everybody - you just put one step after the other and go fast! - but it stated that there is much more to running than this and to become as good a runner as we want to be or can be, we had to "learn and practice" how to run much like a golfer has to learn and practice how to hit a ball exactly where he/she wants.

    I use HR monitor as just another tool in my quest to continue learning more about "how to run" -- I now understand that the reason I could never run when I was younger - was that I did not know how to!!! :)

  • I recently used a HR monitor to run a 10K race. I had competed in this race once before a year ago. I had trained for the race to run it using run/walk intervals in 1hour 10 minutes. However , the race was run in very adverse conditions - at night in very heavy rain. I then discovered I could not use my phone to give me run/walk instructions because of the rain so I just decided to go for it , run non-stop and see what happened . I had run 10ks non-stop before - but only at slower training paces.

    This time however , I had not really trained for the 10K as such - just had been running parkruns and other things - so thought I would have another go at "racing" non-stop. I decided that this time I would use my HR monitor to control myself for the first 5K and than I would "go for it" after that!!! I set it up such that it would beep at me if I went over a certain HR number. The result was that by the time I got to the 5K mark, I felt that I had plenty of gas left in the tank and off I went . Finished up running the second 5K 3 minutes faster than the first 5K - and did the 10K in 1hour 10 minutes ( which I am very happy with) - it is commensurate with my 32:30 parkruns and my one and only 2hours 23mins HM.

  • I'm really pleased to see this thread. I've never been remotely interested in having a HRM as I've used a website to gauge my easy / tempo paces. Other than having to slow a bit for my easy pace, they were pretty much aligned with what I 'felt'. The reason I'm very interested though is because I'm beginning to think my husband would benefit from one. He's starting to talk about training for a marathon but his previous training has been sporadic. He has a tendency to only ever run short and fast or far and fast. On the longer runs he often admits to having a walking break. I keep telling him to slow down ....... The 'scariest' bit is when he's been PB chasing or running for his club he often needs to sit down afterwards as he's pushed himself too hard. I really think buying him a HRM may help me demonstrate he generally needs to slow down and that he must be running in the dangerous zone at times too.

  • Mmm, some really interesting comments! Glad I asked🙂

  • what is the dangerous zone to run in? Apart from Manchester.

  • Ah - aren't those the areas it is better to run in than walk!!!!!

    I suppose I worry that he's not doing controlled tempo running or intervals. He doesn't think about structuring his training at all. He just runs hell for leather or really hell for leather all the time. I just don't think that is a healthy (or correct) way to approach marathon training. A friend of a friend was found unconscious in a front garden along the route of his marathon. He remembers nothing other than thinking he needed to 'push more'. The hospital found absolutely nothing wrong with him health wise and concluded he'd just pushed himself too hard with inadequate preparation. I worry my husband will end up the same way!

  • I have a wrist heart monitor but I do not look at it during my runs. I check the data afterwards though, as that additional bit of information is useful to understand why I felt/ran in a certain way and to learn more about myself and my running.

    I'm not sure whether I would use a chest heart monitor; it looks pretty uncomfortable to me... but probably it is just an issue of getting used to wearing it.

  • I'm fairly happy with mapmyrun - tho' it really frustrates me when it plays up. I think if I had a Garmin I would just be looking at it every 2 seconds. About 10 years ago I did the Inca Trail and was training by walking up hill on the treadmill at the gym They gave me a HR limit not to go above but I had to ignore it as used to hit it almost immediately and could still chat away without struggling, so feel I would prefer not to know now really. I think I am much fitter now and my starting HR would be lower tho'

  • I have a tomtom cardio watch but stopped using it a few weeks ago as it was stressing me out, worrying about how fast my heart was going. I thought it would be useful to know, so that I would know if I was pushing myself too much but I think the anxiety of worrying about heart rate may have been making it go faster. So, for now, I leave it at home. When I graduate (one day, please!) it's coming back out because I am a statto at heart (no pun intended 😃)

  • I use a heart rate monitor for my runs. My heart rate runs a little higher than most when I exercise. I've had it all checked with my gp and they are happy for me to keep running. I find recovery is faster with heart rate monitoring. I can keep long slow runs at a better pace and really push the fast speed ones. I found that without my monitor on I have a habit of over training on the intensity and after weeks of that I have to take a break to recover but when monitoring that doesn't happen.

  • Interesting isn't it, if I have deduced gender correctly from forum names and what I know about people on here, it seems the only users of hrms are male........surprise, surprise. And yes, I am another one. In my "what's wrong with nerds" defence I will say that the HRM strap came with my £65 Aldi GPS running watch, so not a deliberate purchase nor a particularly expensive one.

    My HRM strap (which is not uncomfortable to wear, incidentally) is used infrequently, although I have worn it for my last two runs, as I am curious to see how my heart function is, coming back from injury and feeling somewhat unfit at the moment. I haven't got round to checking the figures yet, but comparison with similarly paced runs from when I felt fit may reveal differences. The acquisition of metrics to make sense of what we feel is definitely much more a male trait, whereas women tend to be more in touch with their bodies and accepting and less questioning........broad sweeping generalisations, maybe, but true from my perspective.

    The numbers produced by the HRM are a curiosity and by no means essential to any runner.......just extra evidence to be weighed up to help formulate theories and strategies and of course we boys like our toys.

    Edit. RFC has just proved the rule by being the exception..... the female HRM user.

  • Boys and their toys - indeed :-).

  • Yes that's me, worked in construction for years and was a body builder so maybe that's why. If the drains need clearing in our house it's me that does it. Hehe I've always been like that.

  • I very much want a hrm, (and I am not male) as it is part of the Younger next year training concept, not so much for the running as for the cross training part. I hated wearing the chest band I have (cheap lidl one with watch) but I am very interested in getting headphones with built in HRM. Going to look at them when I come back to England for work next month.

  • I use a heart rate monitor sporadically. About 10 years ago I tried running and used one regularly - I discovered that I was pushing myself too hard and shot up very quickly. Also had long recovery times. This time my newfound fitness was triggered by my GP who monitored my HR and lactate (I think) levels and gave me a range to exercise in. It scared the wits out of me because it was so low and I stuck to it religiously! 6 months later (which is about a year ago) we went through the whole precedure again and I was given a range which allows me to run. The improvement was huge. I take that range now on my longer runs, or when hiking in the mountains - in places I know I'm going to be pushing myself for long periods of time. On shorter runs (5k - how cool is that! Saying 5 k is short😎) and intervals I don't bother. I'll shoot off the range I know and worry myself. Does that make me a hermaphrodite - half man, half woman? Btw the chest strap doesn't bother me. Had problems at the beginning getting it to find a signal but my boobs must be smaller now and I have no problems. 😈

  • When I started running I didn't believe in such things, and then I have a Garmin 225 with an integral HRM which I find quite fun to look at, so no I'm not using it to train. Read RFC's posts as she has really used HR training for good effect....

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