If you want to get faster and build endurance, you need to train with a heart rate monitor. It will take the guess work out of your training and help you learn to pace yourself for whatever race distance you’re running.
For years, I always ran at the same effort. It took a long time before I realized the benefit of the long, slow run and the difference in effort between a tempo run and 400 repeats. Training too hard is the main reason I suffered quite a few injuries when I began running. When I started running with a heart monitor, I learned how to improve my performance and I got faster and I could run longer, injury free.
The ultimate goal of training with a heart monitor is control, and to run longer and faster with a lower heart rate, but what is the right heart rate and how do you actually use the monitor?
Well, the first step is to find your maximum heart rate. There are a couple of ways to do this. You could use this formula, if you are under 40, 208 – (.7 x your age) and if you are over 40 use this formula, 205 – (.5 x your age). The second method is to visit your personal physician and they can perform the test you need to find your maximum heart rate, this usually involves a treadmill. You could also do it yourself by running 400 meter repeats or hill repeats. Sprint the distance and then take a short jog to recover and repeat this five times. You should achieve a heart rate that is very close to your Maximum Heart Rate (MHR).
Where should your heart rate be during training?
Easy run and long run 65-75% of your MHR
Tempo run 87-92% of your MHR
Interval repeats 95-100% of your MHR
And where should your heart rate be when racing?
5-K 95-97% of your MHR
10-K 92-94% of your MHR
Half-marathon 85-88% of your MHR
Marathon 80-85% of your MHR
I’ll make it much easier for you. Once you find out what your Maximum Heart Rate (MHR) is, you can go here and use this calculator to find out what heart rate you should be when you’re training.
Runners who haven’t yet learned to gage their speed and effort can use the heart monitor to train. Use it over the course of the year and record your results. After a solid year of using mine I can keep a pretty consistent pace without having to look at my Garmin the entire time. I have also improved my VO2 max. But the biggest benefit of all is that I’ve been basically injury free for over a year now.
When I first started using a heart monitor, I bought one at a local sporting goods store for around $40. More recently, I got the Garmin Forerunner 620 which comes with a heart monitor so I’ve been using it to help track my heart rate and it’s great to be able to upload all of that data directly in to Garmin Connect. I have a thing for spreadsheets. Yeah, I’m that girl.
If you’re still not convinced how well Heart Rate Monitor training works, try the following:
Choose a running speed that feels comfortable for you, and run a timed mile. Record your heart rate and then run at that same pace a month later. Your heart rate should be lower. Try it again at 2 months, 3 months, and so on. Each time, record your heart rate and you can see your progress over the course of a year. It’s so motivating!
Use the heart rate monitor in an upcoming race. The monitor can help you from starting out too fast or too slow. It will also help you keep the correct pace throughout the race and that is so important because you want to make sure you have enough steam to power through at the finish. Try it and I think you’ll be convinced that it works.
If you don’t have a heart monitor, there are many options available from the very basic to the extremely advanced. The prices range from $40 and up. You can find them on Amazon or in your local sporting goods store or running store.
Do you currently train with a heart monitor? Have you trained with a heart monitor in the past? Did it work for you? What heart monitor did you use?