SIDE STORY: Sorry I missed the blog yesterday, I took the little butterbean to the Atlanta Aquarium!!  Actually – it’s cooler than that.  We went with another MRTT member – the Chapter Leader from the Pembroke Pines, FL chapter!!  The first time we’ve ever met in person (although we’ve ‘known’ each other for about 2 years now).  We had SO much fun and I am so excited about the potential for other members who like to travel for races, are on vacation, etc can meet up to run together – or just meet up to hang out!

Ok – sorry for the side story… just had to share. :)

So today we are going to talk a little about heart rate monitors.  There is a LOT to learn on this so I’m going to try to break it down into parts, and feed you little bits of info at a time.  Also note that there is a LOT that can change these numbers including current physical state, health problems, etc – so always consult with a doctor before following a training plan based off heart rate!!!

Photo from Livestrong.com

First off:  What’s the importance of training with a heart rate monitor?
There is a LOT of importance… the first being that you can avoid training too hard.  Running too hard and too fast can not only lead to injury – but also burnout!!  You can feel like “I’m to tired, I’m not a good runner, Today’s run was too hard, etc” and it’s probably just that you were running too hard for your current physical state or for your heart rate zone!!  The goal is not to kill yourself on every run – its to get to a point where you can run comfortably and to the best of your ability.  You will find that while your zone stays the same – your body will improve and you will be able to do further and faster in the same zone… if you train RIGHT ;)

You can also use heart rate monitors to know when you can push yourself a little further!!  Since I’ve started using mine – I’ve noticed that some runs I’m actually not running ‘hard enough’!  Go figure!!  If my heart rate is on the low end of my zone, I can push myself to go a little faster or a little further… or if I plan for an ‘easy run’ that day – I can just keep it in the zone and finish with energy to spare!!

So how do you know what your ‘zone’ is for your heart rate?
This is where it gets kinda confusing.  There is a little math involved and I had a friend on the active.com forum send me a great spreadsheet that helps calculate your zone which I will post separately – lets just use the numbers method for now.

Here are the numbers you need:

  • Maximum Heart Rate:  To find your HRmax subtract your age from 226 (for men it’s 220 FYI).  So for me it would be 226-30=196.  Please note – that this is a general way to find this number and you may find this is too high or too low for you personally – so feel free to wiggle the #s a little if needed. Another formula for more fit runners is to subtract half your age from 205…. So mine would be 205-15=190.
  • Resting Heart Rate:  Your resting heart rate is just that – your heart rate when you are resting.  The best method of finding this is to take your pulse first thing in the morning.  It’s kinda tricky because if your alarm goes off, you wake up to a  crying baby or thinking about your day your heart rate will naturally go up.  Also caffeine, alcohol, being sick, dehydration, etc will change this too – so try taking it for about 5 days in a row and pick your lowest number.  For me, I just pick a morning where I can wake up naturally and keep my heart rate monitor next my bed.  Put it on and lay still for another 5-10 min and just watch for the lowest number.  Mine is around 50ish (havent done an exact # lately – but resting still on the sofa gives me around that number).  Some people may find theirs is a lot higher or a lot lower depending on your current physical fitness level and that’s ok!!  We are going for YOUR number so be honest with yourself here ;)  You may even find as your fitness improves so does your RHR.  Mine USED to be in the 40s before I had AC!! 
  • Now lets calculate!!  And you are in luck!!  I just found a good zone calculator online.  Enter your age, enter the 2 numbers you just calculated (mine are 190 and 50), make sure you select FEMALE (males will be calculated differently) – leaving the last 3 blanks empty (this is what will be calculated)
    ONLINE CALCULATOR

    With my numbers, my ‘easy’ zone is: 134-155
    ‘Anaerobic Threshold’ (where I like to run for a good run): 169-176
    V02Max (HARD running if you want to push yourself): 176-190

    So with this info – now I know if I want to go out for an ‘easy’ run – I just need to keep my heart rate between 134-155… if I want a good solid run I stay within 169-176 and if I want a really hard run (please note you dont need to stay in this zone for an entire run) it would be 176-190.  V02Max is good if you want to work on speed, hills, etc. 

WHEW… I told you that was a lot of information.  The calculator helps a lot (the formula gets kinda messy haha) and I’m telling you – if you will follow this you will see a dramatic improvement in your running and how you feel during and after a run!!!   I hate running without mine now!  It also helps to get “Negative Nelly” out of your head when you feel like you need to  slow down- just look at your watch and see your heart rate – if you aren’t in the top of your zone – keep on pushing!!

I’ll write more on benefits, pitfalls, etc in later posts – this one is long enough!!  HAPPY FRIDAY EVERYONE!!! Hope you have a great running weekend!!!

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One Response to Training with a Heart Rate Monitor

  1. Adriana says:

    This post is so informative… My husband has been pushing me to run with a monitor..
    He will totally love this post too! ;)
    Thanks Pam!

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