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I did not start using heart rate monitors when I was a freshman in college. They have been instrumental in my success as a runner and have used them for the past 17 years.
My collegiate coach, Jack Hazen, who was named the 2012 London Olympics Head mens and women's distance coach, had us use them religiously while I attended Malone University (coach Hazen has been the head coach there now for 38 years!).
The reason why heart rate training is so important is you can very easily run too fast when you should be backing off your pace, a heart rate monitor takes the guessing out of the equation.
A heart rate monitor can keep you in check and all it takes it a look down at your watch to get an idea if you are running too fast or too slow.
Training Intensities For Reference
These were the typical training intensities we used at Malone.
Easy Run – 130-40 beats per minute
Moderate Run – 150-60 beats per minute
Hard Run – 160-70 beats per minute
Anerobic Threhold Runs (also known as ‘tempos') – 170-80 beats per minute
Over the years you begin to get more of a feel for what pace you should be running at.
I still wear my Garmin heart rate monitor just to be on the safe side.
Why wear heart monitors
#1. If you did a track session and have an easy run done the next day. Keeping an eye on your heart rate the day two days is vital.
You could go out and may think your running easy but turns out your holding a heart rate of 160 beats per minute at a pace that you think ‘feels' easy.
It may ‘feel' easy but your if your heart is having to work harder then it should, especially the day after a hard workout…listen to it.
You're not getting the proper recovery by not knowing, a heart rate monitor can change that.
Easier To Focus On HR
#2. It is actually fun to know that you are holding an effort right where you need it to be. You throw away the worry and concern of thinking you're running too fast or too easy.
Take Out Guess Work
#3. You take the guessing out of your training. Knowing what intensities you should be running at makes your training more organized and your results will show because of it.
I am a huge advocate of this and I am telling you now, if you change the way you do your long runs..you will make HUGE gains in your overall pace in your races and drop your personal best times.
I will NOT do a long run without my heart rate monitor on.
It is the most current model (updated: Garmin 620 is the newest) and has the most gadgets on it doesn't mean the Garmin 405 or Garmin 110 can't do the job.
Easier To Focus On Effort
What matters is you have a tool where you can gauge your heart rate and don't have to worry, ‘Am I running too hard, should I slow down or speed up'.
You KNOW where you need to be and can sit at that effort.
Any of the models mentioned in this newsletter message would be great additions to your training arsenal if you are serious about improving.
The Best Use Them
Do you NEED to have one?
That is ultimately up to you but I can tell you this, the best coaches and runners in the world use these so trying one out surely is not a bad thing.
These are best to be worn on recovery days when you want to ensure you are running slow enough that you are recovering and not going too anaerobic when you should be running more aerobically.
The only way to truly find out is by heart rate training.
Great For Tempos Too
They are great for tempo runs when you are training your body to build up lactate tolerance.
One word of caution, if you purchase a heart rate monitor and start using it, you always want to run at least at a heart rate of 120 beats per minute.
Why? Anything under 120 beats per minute you are only really burning carbohydrates. 130-50 is best for burning fat.
Running easy does burn fat but to run faster, for longer periods of time, you need to gradually, over time, train to run faster by holding a higher percentage of effort relative to the paces you want to race at.
Listen To Your Heart
Once you have built up your mileage base and have gained some fitness from the miles you have put in start doing your long runs at a higher heart rate.
I do mine at 160 beats per minute, for me this is anywhere from 65-75% effort and is not an easy effort.
Once I changed from doing my long runs slow to at a faster effort, my marathon time went from 2.43.36 to 2.19.35.
Presently, I am in about my third week back into training after a few weeks off. My easy heart rate is usually from 140-50 beats per minute.
I am holding about 7.00 pace right now at that level.
What is unique about heart rate training is you can gauge the paces you ran when you first began your build up and see the difference when you're really fit.
I did a 20-mile run 6 weeks prior to to the 2011 Monumental Indianapolis Marathon in 1.50.02 (a 5.30 per mile average) holding a heart rate average of 160 beats per minute, 3 months prior to this had I went out for a 20-mile run holding a 160 heart rate I would have held, more then likely, around 7.30 per mile pace.
Be patient with your training.
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