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The Trick to Running with a Heart Rate Monitor

Posted Jul 27 2011 12:00am

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Well…perhaps I should add, “while pregnant” to that title for it to be accurate because let’s face it, heart rate training and heart rate training while pregnant are two entirely different balls of wax. Entirely.

Wearing a heart rate monitor on your runs is a tremendous way to gauge effort, define and stay within set parameters for your workouts and track your progress. It’s an extremely effective way to train.

Wearing a heart rate monitor on your runs while pregnant on the other hand is stupid, annoying, and pretty much like running with your arch enemy who you will try to thwart at every turn.

I like to run. I like to run fast and I like to work hard on my runs. Being limited to a pace that falls under the max heart rate my OBGYN has prescribed to me is soooooooooooooooooo very frustrating at times.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I am thrilled and thankful that I even CAN run, the little bit though it may be, throughout my pregnancy. THRILLED. But dangit if I don’t wish I could do so without staring at my wrist every 15 seconds to make sure I’m not giving kiddo in tow more of a ride than he or she’s ready for.

So my pace has slowed down, waaaaaay down. And whenever my heart rate seems to escape me, I slow down some more and walk until I’m pretty well recovered. Then I go again. It’s basically working out to running for about 2 minutes and walking for about 2, give or take. But here’s the problem, my heart rate is not tied into soley my effort on the treadmill. It also happens to be tied into things like what I’ve done that day, what my kids are doing, and even just the thoughts in my head. If any of those things are just a slight bit (hmm…how to phrase this? let’s go with…) off, then I’m basically screwed.

A few examples:

If I’ve pulled weeds in 90+ degree heat before getting on the treadmill, my heart rate starts out of wack and is pretty much impossible to get down while running, walking or thinking about heat.

If my 5 year old who’s accompanied me to the tm to play video games while I run can’t get the controller to work and asks me repeatedly to fix it, which I try in vain to explain to her without getting off the tm over and over and over each time slightly louder than the last as if somehow the volume of my voice will suddenly make her GET IT, my heart rate goes up.

If she actually gets the game to work and she’s kicking butt and taking names, I get excited. Hello max heart rate so nice of you to drop by again.

If I ate within a half hour of my run, it is apparently too much to ask of my body to house a baby, process food and also move, my heart rate starts high and the teeniest increase in pace sends me over the max.

If my thoughts drift to politics, everything I have to do when I get off the treadmill, or why my Tiger is not the slightest bit interested in potty training, I’m quickly back to walking.

If I see that my heart rate is nearing that dreaded max and I’m still not quite to my arbitrarily set 2 minutes of running, I start to panic that I won’t get those 2 minutes in and inevitably that makes my heart rate shoot up. So I don’t.

If I actually do keep my heart rate down and time starts to creep all the way to 4ish minutes of running and I’m still well within my OBGYN’s guidelines, I get worried that maybe my heart rate monitor is not on properly or it’s not working properly. But the good news is that all that worrying raises my heart rate. And so **PHEW** no heart rate monitor problems, but the bad news: also no running.

So what I’ve learned from all this heart rate monitor running while pregnant is that the one trick to keeping your heart rate down is this: You must run in a Zen like state. Do not think, hear, see, smell (especially if you also happen to have a Tiger not interested in potty training) or feel anything about the world around you. Be entirely immune to the wild calls of “Mommy, mommy, mommy, MAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAMAY!!!” that surround you. Be one with the soft purring of your treadmill. Then and only then, will you be able to run while pregnant at a satisfying pace for the amount of time you desire without adversely affecting your heart rate and thus the precious little one you have the privilege of carrying within you.

And once you all figure out how exactly to make that happen, feel free to let me know :-)

 

'Til next time...

P.S. Special thanks to RunSis without whom the making of this blog post would not have been possible. She’s the one who loaned me the heart rate monitor & Garmin to use throughout my pregnancy since I am too cheap to actually go out and buy my own. Although, it’s been a couple of months since she had her little bundle of joy and she’s already well on her way to training for her next race and I’m sure she’ll be wanting it back soon. Just a couple more months RunSis, a couple more months…

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