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.
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.
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?