Why I’m Training With a Heart Rate Monitor

You may have seen the pictures of my pretty heart rate monitor on Instagram or Facebook. I get asked what kind it is quite often. It’s a Polar FT60. It tells me things like how many calories I’m burning, what heart rate zone I’m in and sometimes it tells me I’m doing a good job (other times not so much). But why wear it if all I’m going to do is take pictures of it to post to IG? After much thought and debate, I finally decided that what’s best for me is training with a heart rate monitor.

Training with a Heart Rate Monitor

I’m sure you’re wondering why when all the advice has been to go by feel. My reasons for doing this: 1) I have a high tolerance for pain and I push myself too hard because of that 2) due to my high blood pressure and the high incidence of heart disease in my family it just makes me more comfortable and 3) I need to be able to sustain running (I don’t care about the pace now) for 13.1 miles.

My mom tells stories of when I was a kid and I’d climb in her lap with extremely high fevers and severe ear infections without a single complaint. I had Lucas totally natural without so much as an aspirin and except for the last 20 minutes it felt like nothing more than an irritant. The day after my hysterectomy, which I was supposed to have a three-day hospital stay ,I felt perfectly fine and convinced the doctor to let me go home. And those are just a few examples of my ability to block out pain. It kind of comes natural to me. Because I have such jacked up pain sensors for all I know my heart could be screaming out in agony asking for me to back off. I could fall to the ground long before I’d notice any pain or tightness in my chest.

My heart rate monitor provides me with a more accurate measure of how hard my heart is working. I’m not going to know that. I’m way to new at this. I don’t want to put strain on my heart and if the heart rate is too high then it’s straining. Additionally, if I’m hitting high heart rates at 3 and 4 miles, I’m going to poop out way before mile 10. Much less 13.1. My understanding is this is pretty common for newbie runners. We want to do our best so we push and push and push. But if you’re going for endurance then you need to make sure that you’re not doing all the pushing at the beginning of a major race. While there’s no shame in walking, my goal is to keep a slower consistent pace and hopefully run all the way to the finish line. And perhaps use the energy reserves I might have stored up for a push at the end. That’s my goal. 

Since I’m racing to finish, not to win and to improve my heart health the heart rate monitor gives me some comfort that I’m training in an appropriate way for me. And I’m not going to lie, sometimes I’ve looked at it and realized I’m slacking off so I’m able to pick up the pace. I have my number that I want to stay at and that’s what I’ve been aiming for. As body adjusts and my heart and lungs get stronger I’ll be able to keep at that number while running faster. With all that said, if a year from now, or even 12 weeks from now this method of training fails me I’ll be the first to acknowledge it. In the meantime, this is what makes me comfortable.

Run 7/26. My Flip belt is under my shirt and it's making me look rounder than usual. LOL

Run 7/26/14. My Flip belt is under my shirt and it’s making me look rounder than usual. LOL

I’m not at a place to give you all types of tips to help you with heart monitor training but I hope to one day. In the meantime, you can check out this article from Runners World. In it you’ll find that there are benefits to this type of training even for experienced runners. Even ways to increase your pace by using heart rate monitor training. If that’s what you’re real into.

Have you ever tried training with a heart rate monitor in this way? What are your thoughts on heart rate monitor training? 


The Skinny: July 2014

Hi there, B.F.F.’s! I hope you all are having a great summer. I’m a little concerned that summer isn’t what when we thought it was given all the cooler days we’ve still been having. The hot days are still ahead of us. But it must be the last Friday Saturday of the month. Honestly, I wanted to give ya’ll more time to read Carly’s post on Making Races Fit Into Your Training PlanI was super excited that she answered my questions for me and now I’m not afraid to add more runs in as I go about my training.

The Skinny: July 2014

Sometimes it’s not just our bodies we’re comparing to others. Sometimes it’s the miles. That’s why it’s important not to get caught in the fitness comparison trap.

Still trying to figure out where you stand on how you eat. These 10 flicks might just change the way you eat. They did for Nicky.

Even if you’re not prepping to compete in a bikini competition this is a great food list. And make sure that you read all the other bikini comp posts…there’s some great info there.

I love some good asparagus and this recipe for Asparagus with New Potatoes looks like it would hit the spot. Especially when you add the eggs on top.

I’m not a fan of beans but maybe you are. But did you know that there are dangers to undercooked beans?

If there is anything I’ve discovered in my almost 45 years of life, it’s that nothing is really worth stressing over. If it’s stressing me on a regular basis it’s time to get rid of it. And the fact that stress leads to weight gain is just one more reason why to kick stress to the curb.

Speaking of stress, that can get to us sometimes. But it’s important to reflect on our plan and make sure it’s squared away with what God really wants for us. It’s important to look at Where We Stand, And Fall.

I’ve been to one blog conference and I want to go to more but they are hard on me. Networking is just something that doesn’t come natural to me. I loved this post on Networking for Introvertsit’s exactly what my introverted soul needs.

Sometimes other people’s reactions to our blogs can be so funny. And then I hear that Blogs Are So Last Year! Ummmm….okay. Find out what happens when someone tells you that.

Sometimes we get offers in our email that we don’t know what to do with. Perhaps they don’t fit your blog at all or the timing is wrong. These tips on how to turn down brands without burning bridges may just get you out of a tough jam.

That’s The Skinny for July. What are your weekend plans? Any good reads that I missed/


Making Races Fit Your Training Plan

Signing up for a big goal race and following an official training plan is a sure sign you’ve caught the racing bug. Once you’re in this racing mindset, all those local 5Ks and 10Ks start to look like a fun way to pad out your training for your big event. So, you sign up for a couple, then it dawns on you as you look at your specific training plan, “Um, how do I fit this into what I’m supposed to be running this week?” Never fear, fellow racers, I’m here to give you some options and specific tips on making races fit into your training plan.

Making Races Fit Into Your Training Plan There are a few different ways you can approach a race scheduled during your training program. There’s no right way, or wrong way to decide which approach is best for you, but you should decide ahead of time what you want to do so you can adequately prepare for your training races. THE RACING APPROACH: If you want to take advantage of the opportunity to race, then you can run a race during training as a fitness/speed test without jeopardizing your goal race result. For this approach, you should ease off for two to three days prior to the race. Make sure your long run is early in the week to give yourself as long as possible to recover. If you have a speed work run scheduled that week, make it easier, with a longer warm up and cool down. Run a couple of miles at tempo instead of doing a planned intervals workout, for example. Do a short shake-out run the day before the race, and take the day after the race off, or do some easy cross training. If you take the racing approach, remember, even with a mini-taper, this is not the event for which you’re training, so give yourself a little leeway with your goal for the race. Making Races Fit Into Your Training Plan THE LONG RUN APPROACH: Let’s say you’ve signed up for a 10K four or five weeks out from your half marathon – at this point in most training plans, your long run is usually 9 or 10 miles. So, turn your 10K (6.2 miles) into a longer run, with an extended warm up. (This is also a great way of familiarizing yourself with part of the course you’re about to run). Take it easy for the 4 mile warm up, running a little slower than your normal long run pace. Time it so you finish the warm up at the last possible moment before you have to line up, so there’s not much of a break between your two running segments. Run the 10K either at your long run pace throughout, or you could start at your long run pace and try to gradually get faster, to get used to running fast when you’re already tired. The dual benefits of this approach are that you don’t need to adjust your training plan – the race just becomes your long run – and you are also learning how to take it easy at the beginning of a race. Making Races Fit Into Your Training Plan THE SPEED WORK APPROACH: Make the race your speed workout for the week. Enjoy the crowd support and adrenaline of a race environment and use it to your speedy advantage! Take your speed workout for the week and modify it for the race. Do a warm up before the race, then you can run the race as intervals, half mile repeats, or if you’re following a very conservative training plan that doesn’t call for much , run it as a fartlek (that’s Swedish for ‘speed play’ – usually you’re randomly picking points in the distance, speeding up to get there, then backing off until you feel like trying the next speed segment). If you choose this approach to your race during training, be careful to keep the recovery portions of the race/workout as a true recovery, so you’re not inadvertently running the whole race faster than you would if you were racing. Making Races Fit Into Your Training Plan Finally, remember that regardless of which approach you choose, these races during training should be considered training for your goal event, not the be-all and end-all. If you do try to race one and get a disappointing result, don’t feel too bad about it – unless you’re training specifically for an event and tapering adequately, it won’t be indicative of your best racing effort, regardless of how well your program is going and how excellent your fitness level. Always keep your eyes on the real goal race.

Good luck! And happy training and racing. :)

Carly Pizzani - Fine Fit DayCarly Pizzani is a mama to a rampaging toddler, a personal trainer, the author of the fitness blog Fine Fit Day, a freelance writer, and an ex-pat Aussie living in Brooklyn. She loves running, lifting weights, yoga, spin class, dancing with her son — basically anything active. Keeping mamas (and mamas-to-be) fit, healthy and motivated is what she loves most about her job. You can connect with Carly on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram.