Heart Rate Monitors: Are You Using Them to Benefit Your Training?

My heart rate monitor keeps me from running too hard on my easy run days. By keeping an eye on my heart rate, I can tell if I am working too hard. Often times, I am running in warmer conditions and I need to slow down my pace to stay within my proper heart rate. A hot day will always raise your heart rate.

When doing hills, intervals or tempo runs I can watch and monitor my heart rate to make sure I am working hard enough. I check my heart rate and make sure I am exerting the right amount of energy to get the most out of the workout.

If you go out too fast and struggle to run the last few miles of your run, use a heart rate monitor to keep your effort level and under control at the beginning of your run.

First, you need to determine your maximum heart rate. The easiest way to do this is by subtracting your age from 220. Just remember your maximum heart rate will go down as you age as as you get fitter.

When you are running an easy run day, Long Slow Distance Run, your target heart rate should be 60-70% of your maximum heart rate. Often times we are running way too hard on our easy run days, keeping track of your heart rate will make sure you aren't over doing it.

On tempo runs, intervals, and hills your target heart rate should be 78-88 percent of your maximum heart rate. This is when you need to make sure you are working hard enough, exerting the right amount of effort to benefit from the training run.

If you are running within 5% of these ranges and are able to maintain a consistent pace through the end of your workout, you have found your target heart rate for that particular run. Most beginners find they are running much too hard on their easy run days and not hard enough on their hard days.
~Info adapted from "Running with Joy" Ryan Hall

When I am was trying for my Boston Qualifier, I was watching my pace, making sure I stayed below the projected pace so I would cross the finish line in time for my BQ. If I hadn't had my Garmin with heart rate monitor, I wouldn't have known my pace and wouldn't have been able to qualify for Boston.