Heart Monitors
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Heart Rate Monitors:

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Some user's comments on wearing HRMs

Jakson Badenhoop, Performance MultiSports

I use a Polar Heart Rate Monitor for virtually every workout I do and in every race I enter. I would feel just about naked without it and would be as likely to go running without my running shoes or biking without my helmet now. I  think there is some significant value for athletes who consider using a HRM and use it thoughtfully. My experience is that I have seen some increases in speed, improved endurance, and less "down time" following an event. I am not a doctor, so the following comments are based upon my personal experience and that of other athletes using heart rate monitors.

There are plenty of good reasons to get yourself a Heart Rate Monitor (perhaps for your own birthday present...). I began using a HRM years ago -- at about age 45 -- and soon found that each of us is very different from the averages that most books and articles describe. Just as each athlete has different natural abilities, each of us seems to have different ranges for our heart rates when exercising. Some seem to have a relatively high max heart race of well over 200 beats per minute (bpm), while I know others who are just about maxed-out at about 155bpm and are running very hard at 140 bpm.

Getting older does not necessarily mean getting slower or getting worse. I've continued training with long running and biking miles in the summer heat, as well as the cooler times of year, and think it is one of the reasons that I have been improving this year (with new marathon and 50K personal bests at age 51). I think the use of the HRM will help for you, too. I use it all the time and feel it is one of the most important tools that I have available. I made up a training log that includes heart rate info, enter each workout into the log, and refer to it from time to time. I'd be as likely to go running without my shoes, as without my HRM. I have found it to be an essential part of working out and racing. It may be even more important on race day, since I have my own HRM data to use a a reference when I am racing, keeping me from starting too fast and allowing me to push when I appear to have energy to spare. After using the HRM for some time, each of us will develop a knowledge of what is a proper pace for each race distance -- and the HRM allows us to maintain that effort level accurately.

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After using it for awhile and recording your own information, you will develop some personal history with the HRM data and will begin to have a better idea of what you can do on a given day for training or racing. One needs to determine the Max HR individually -- the book formulas are never accurate enough for athletes. Temperature and humidity also make a difference in one's HR. There are distinct differences between training activities, too -- swimming seldom seems to get me into what I think would be my aerobic zone (for running), even when I feel out of breath from the exertion. Cycling can raise my HR, but not to the extent of running, unless I am really working and usually when I am sprinting on the bike.

One needs to develop data for each type of workout over time, so that you can determine what is the proper max HR and appropriate training zone for each type of exercise (run, bike, swim, etc.) It also helps me to keep the workout effort levels down when I need to have an "easy day" or to pace myself for a longer workout -- or in a long race, such as a marathon or ultra. I think you could really like using a HRM and, with the results you can get from using it, your HRM could become one of you favorite tools.

You may also want to read Kim Kazimour's views on using the HRM.

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