Your best training tool: your heart

Some of the data from my first run with a Polar GPS watch

Some of the data from my first run with a Polar GPS watch

One of the awesome things about training with The Running Room is that they bring in experts weekly to talk about different aspects of running, training and nutrition. A few weeks ago, a representative from Polar Canada named Krysten came to chat to our group about heart rate training.

Generally, I’m not a numbers girl, but when it comes to running, I love data. I love tracking kilometres, calories, time and average pace. I sometimes feel a bit lost on a run without my Nike+ app or watch. But one piece of data that I’ve never really considered was my heart rate.

Tracking your heart rate while running can tell you exactly how hard or how easy you’re running. By determining your resting heart rate, you can calculate your own specific training zones. Typically, there are four zones ranging from Zone 1 which is basically a warm-up or cool down to Zone 4 which is your all-out maximum effort. Once you have determined your own zones, you should aim to work within a specific zone. Hitting a zone means falling within a particular percentage of your heart rate during every workout. This will vary depending on what kind of workout you’re doing.

In order to track your heart rate, you need a heart rate monitor. Krysten brought in a couple Polar heart rate monitors and GPS watches to demonstrate how everything works. Because she is super nice and awesome, she let me take hers for a spin on our 8K run that night. I already feel like I run with a lot of gear – iPhone, fuel belt, sportwatch – so adding in a heart rate  monitor was a bit weird at first, but once you get going, you don’t even know it’s there.

I was fascinated by Polar’s technology. Polar has been creating heart rate monitors since 1977. According to their website, their idea is to “get under the skin of your training,” and their products are based on expertise in sports, physiology and electronics. The little watch provides SO much data, far beyond kilometres and calories burned. I watched as the numbers crept up when we ran up a hill and I become a bit winded. I kept glancing at it over and over as I tried to get my heart rate back to normal as we continued. If information is power, a Polar GPS watch could be the perfect training tool to take your performance to the next level.

I was also fascinated by Krysten’s own story. Not only is Polar a great product for athletes, it can also help people with heart conditions. When Krysten was 17, she was diagnosed with a rare arrhythmia called prolonged QT syndrome and uses Polar to track her heart rate while running to ensure she’s not overdoing it. Pretty amazing right? No heart condition can get this girl down! You can read more about Krysten and her story on her blog here.

Do you train with a heart rate monitor?

4 Comments

  1. Jesse - Questionably Texan September 22, 2013 / 9:27 pm

    I never run without my heart rate monitor. It’s far more valuable to me than the GPS function on my Garmin. I’ve been running with one for long enough that I can usually guess pretty close to my actual heart rate when I’m running, so I could leave it at home sometimes but I feel naked if I’m running without it.

    • Miranda September 23, 2013 / 1:15 pm

      Very cool! Definitely some data I’m interested in tracking. I might put a Polar GPS watch on my Christmas wishlist this year 🙂

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