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Running with heart – monitoring that is

sally edwards bookFor my birthday, I received a brand new running watch, the Polar RS 200 . After I’ve used it a little longer I’ll write a review. But today the discussion turns to heart rate monitoring. The watch came with a heart rate monitor and it’s made me curious as to what to do with it. Actually, the posts that Arcaner has done on his blog made me curious. The monitor just made it possible for me to do something about it.

In the latest issue of Chicago Athlete Magazine they have an article about how to use heart rate monitors for training. Here’s what they say.

Determine your heart rate profile

When you exercise, your heart rate changes depending on how hard you are working. By figuring out your heart rate profile you can determine whether you are working out at just the right level. There are a variety of heart rates that you want to determine.

1. Ambient heart rate. This is how much your heart beats while you are just sitting around doing nothing strenuous. Most people will be around 70 beats per minute (bpm). This joggler clocks in around 60 – 65. In general, the more you work out the lower this heart rate will be.

2. Resting heart rate. This is the speed of your heart right when you wake up in the morning. I haven’t figured mine out just yet. Tomorrow I’ll try to do that.

3. Maximum heart rate. This is the maximum number of beats your heart can make in a minute. See this excellent write-up by Sally Edwards to figure out your maximum heart rate. I haven’t quite figured mine out but it is around 195 – 200 bpm. I’ll report again when a more thorough test is done.

Figuring out maximum heart rate

+ A quick way to determine maximum heart rate is to use the following formula.
210 minus 50% of your age minus 5% of your body weight (pounds) + 4 if male and 0 if female

+ A more involved method is to monitor your heart rate while you run really easy for 2 minutes. Increase to moderate activity for 2 more minutes and record your heart rate. Finally, increase the intensity to almost the most you can handle and do this for 2 minutes. Record your heartbeat and that will be close to your max.

How to use heart rate for training

In the magazine there is a chart that shows various heart rate “zones” which represent how hard you should be training.

For example, my max heart rate is about 200. So I should target the following heart rates based on the exercise I’m doing.

1. Joggling warm-up or cool down – HR ~120
2. Joggling long run – HR ~140
3. Faster tempo run – HR ~160
4. Long interval workouts – HR ~180
5. Short sprints and hills – HR 190 -200

It all seems to make sense to me and since this is a way to improve training and get faster, I should try it. And if you’d like to improve your running, you should try it too.

But be careful when you are trying to push your heart rate. As we’ve seen from previous heart research, it can be a little dangerous.

If you are curious, click on the picture of the Sally Edwards book to learn more.

This Post Has 7 Comments
  1. Very Interesting especially ince we were talking about it on Sunday. I guess I may have to buy one of those watches to test it out.


  2. I ran yesterday and had the following heart readings.

    2 miles = 8 min pace, HR = 150
    2 miles = 6:15 pace, HR = 180
    2 miles = 7:30 pace, HR = 174

    I think I might try to figure out what my maximum heart rate is today. During Sunday’s race my average heart rate was 148.

  3. I was sitting in the car on the way to the track, and my heart rate was 56. That was really cool as that was lower than my resting heart rate when I started running. Since my neighborhood is so hilly, a HR is essential to running at the same level of effort for the entire run. That insight is so useful for training.

  4. Well I know that I have never looked into the heart rate thing, but those numbers seem crazy. The big difference between 7.5 and 8 and the small difference between 6.25 and 7.5. It just doesn’t make sense to me. Was that the order you did them in? I guess I will have to do some investigating and maybe even try it myself.

  5. Welcome to the club! Yeah those numbers don’t look right. Can you upload your info to a computer and generate a graph? That way you can get a sense of where your HR is levelling off at a given speed. Ideally you should probably only rely on the avg HR of the 2nd mile since your HR has to adjust during the first mile.

  6. Yeah, I can do that but I’ve gotta figure out how. I ran today for 4 miles and watched the heart monitor. Do these numbers sound right?

    1. First 2 minutes, HR = 168-172.
    2. But then it steadied out at about 150 for the rest of the first mile.
    3. By mile 2 I was at 155.
    4. By mile 3 it was about 160
    5. In the last mile it got between 165 and 170.

    Is it supposed to go up like that?

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