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The Tool that Changed my Running Experience

Posted Sep 01 2012 10:00pm

Heart Rate Monitors. Yep I love my heart rate monitor I got it for my birthday last year and officially have had a love affair with it ever since.

As much as I love it I suppose I should mention that there are some setbacks. For a hypochondriac like myself sometimes seeing how elevated my heart rate is makes me nervous and in turn elevates it even more leading to a silly vicious cycle.

Anyway I digress. So I love heart rate monitors and they have helped my running so much!

Firstly why do I love it? Well it’s empirical evidence letting me know how hard I worked this run and was it better or worse than the last run. It’s just a great little bit extra information to provide me with.

So in this post I want to provide you with all the basic information needed to help you use your heart rate monitor to the best of your ability.

First things first, you have to determine your max heart rate, not everyone is lucky to be tested in a VO2 max test, so the old 220 – age is the best hope we have.

Of course if you want to accurately find out your max heart rate yourself there are ways, I suggest going to this website  and doing their test.

So when you first start out running and can achieve 7 minute km’s your heart rate might be working at 85% of its MHR (maximum heart rate) but as you get fitter your will still be able to work at that speed but it will be less demanding on your body. So after a while you might be able to run 7 minute km’s at 75% of you MHR.

So that’s some pretty cool information, the more you use it you can hopefully see yourself improving and that always leads to continuing with your goals and motivation.

My favourite thing about the heart rate monitor is you can train exactly which system and for what benefits you want by using your heart rate monitor and looking at this useful guide I created.

50-60% MHR: ZONE 1 – THE HEALTHY HEART ZONE

System: Aerobic Burning: Fat

You achieve this by walking briskly or warming up and cooling down before and after a more strenuous running zone. This is ideal for reducing body fat, it gets you healthier but not fitter.

60-70% MHR: ZONE 2 – THE TEMPERAMENT ZONE

System: Aerobic Burning: Fat

This zone is achieved by a slow jog pace. It is often coined the “fat burning zone” because 85% of its total calories consumed are fats.

70-80% MHR: ZONE 3 – THE AEROBIC ZONE 

System: Aerobic Burning: Fat and Carbs

This zone is achieved by running but you should still be able to hold a conversation. This is where you get fitter and you improve your cardiovascular system. By increasing the number an size of blood vessels, increase size and strength of your lung capacity so you can exercise for longer.

80-90% MHR: ZONE 4 – THE ANAEROBIC ZONE

System: Anaerobic Burning: Carbs

This is achieved by running a fast pace and not being able to hold a conversation. Your heart cannot pump enough blood and oxygen around to supply the exercising, so you start running without oxygen. This is very demanding and cannot be sustained for over an hour. Mainly carbs are metabolised.

90-100% MHR: ZONE 5 – THE REDLINE ZONE 

System: Anaerobic

Running all out or doing interval training. It is rarely selected for a workout. Can only be sustained for small intermediate bursts.

So there all of the different training zones. Depending on how long you want to run for and what your personal fitness goals are determines which is the perfect zone for you and that run. I’d love to hear from people who enjoy using their heart rate monitor to pace their runs or another method they love.

Now go run and have a beautiful day! 


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