Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Feel the Beat

Let me say this, I have NEVER been a good role model when it comes to wearing my heart rate monitor. For the last, um 14 months (maybe longer) it has collected dust in my stack of Rubbermaid Drawers that holds all my running/training gear. I have the chest strap that matches my Garmin 405( they no longer make this model of the watch, because they have new fancier ones, but I LOVE this watch it has everything that I need). So I have the HRM gear but have never really used it much ( I used to use it often while spinning because everything was based on zones, but even I stopped bringing it to class because the strap is uncomfortable)

Apparently I am growing up, or just learning more and more about training, but I am going to start using the heart rate monitor again (not that I used it religiously before...). My goal this week is to use my HRM for all of my workouts (except swimming), and start to get an idea of where I am at with my statistics. [This is your cue to hold me accountable for this!!!] I even paid $2.99 for an app on my phone (Most Apps I have are free, so this is saying a lot! But I read about it on a few Tri-sites so I thought it would be worth a shot)

Why am I all of the sudden starting to use my HRM again?
There are a few reasons for this, but the most important being I am training for my first Half Ironman (70.3) and all of my triathlon training books ( I have a lot of them, I am a self-proclaimed nerd....I love reading about running and training) talk so much about heart rate training, zones and how tracking it is so important. Now I don't plan on placing, or even coming close to placing in July when I do that 70.3, but I would like to be as prepared as possible to get me from start to finish. What that means is, I am going to have to suck it up and start using the damn HRM ( mentally I just need to get over how uncomfortable the damn strap is!)

Besides training for 70.3, my reasons for wanting to start HR training, is so that I can get more out of my runs in general. To be very honest, I don't know if triathlons could ever take place of straight running for me. I love running and everything it does for me and everything it has brought into my life. Triathlons are going to be a challenge for me and I love that, I am excited to be doing 70.3 this year and hopefully 140.6 next year but right now I don't have the love for it that I do for running. I know that could change once I do those big races, but for now, I am married to running and triathlons are just my hot pool boy. I know that using a HRM for running will help me improve and get closer to where I really want to be, learning to control my HR and stay in certain zones, learn to pace off of HR/effort more than just pace.

Yesterday was my first workout of the week, so naturally my first workout with the HRM on again (I'm surprised the battery in it still worked, apparently those things must be able to survive forever), and putting the HRM strap on was like putting on handcuffs. (you know the really tight bra feeling, like it limits your breathing, makes you feel trapped....yeah that feeling)

Okay, I promise I won't complain about the strap all of the time. Once I got into the run I didn't notice it as much, it's a little weird more than anything, luckily I didn't deal with any chaffing yesterday. I have heard some horror stories about HRM straps and chaffing. ( I may have gone through a stick of glide to make sure that didn't happen). I did a little over a 10 mile run (10.14 to be exact), with an average pace of 7:38. This felt pretty easy effort wise (besides the ridiculous wind I dealt with), but body wise, my legs and everything felt natural during this. According to my heart rate monitor, once synced up with the computer (Garmin Connect with ANT+), I found that my average HR during the run was 162 and my max HR was 181.  According to most of the zone calculators and charts, the average of 162 puts me in the endurance/aerobic zone, this makes me happy that a 7:38 pace can put me in that range when that pace used to jack my heart rate up so much more.

I have so much material I need to go through and mini "tests" I need to do to figure out my exact zones. First of all I need to get my resting heart rate, they say the best way to do this is take your pulse when you wake up in the morning and are still laying in bed. Apparently they don't know that when I get up I am not laying in bed, I am jumping to the sound of my alarm, this would show a max heart rate that should put me 6 feet under. ( I'm not a morning person). But I will find  a way to get this, for now I estimate my resting HR to be about 55 and my max to be about 200. With that fancy app I bought for my, I put those numbers in and created a new chart ( It comes with a few charts for you, alter the numbers to suit you), and this is what it looks like -------->

Once I figure out what my numbers should be for running zones and cycling zones I can create different charts which will make great reference while I dive into the world of HR training.

I have a longer workout planned for tonight, and plan on using my heart rate monitor (I'll try not to complain too much about the strap). I'll probably post about this quite a bit in the coming weeks as I continue to use my HRM and continue to read more into my books and literature about training zones and how to effectively use HR data to make you a better athlete.

What about you, do you use a heart rate monitor?
Any Horror stories about Chaffing, or ideas on how to make the strap more comfortable?
For those of you who do use HRM, can you give me any advice or information as I start this new training adventure?


  1. We used to do heart rate training with swim team and I know that it worked extremely well. Maybe once I get into that fancy stuff, I'll get back into it. Good luck with your longer workout.

    Hmm, as far as as chaffing stories...I got the worst chaffing on my thighs two years ago during Thanksgiving. I have never been in that much pain in my life haha.

    1. My HRM isn't waterproof so for the time being I am not going to worry about HR for swimming, which is a good thing because I am still just trying to be focused on getting more comfortable swimming for extended period of time.

      Inner thigh chaffing is something I will deal with forever. Thank the lord for giving me bulky legs.

  2. I am somewhat religious about my heart rate monitor and I've been lucky about chaffing. My only real advice is to make sure the leads on the strap and your skin are damp - I usually pat a little water from the tap on both; my experience is that when the contact is completely dry, the reading isn't accurate until I start to sweat.
    Tangentially, I am jealous of your 200 HRmax (mine's in the mid-180's).

    1. I did read to make sure that the leads are wet or it wont be as accurate (I actually pulled out the manual for my HR strap, yes it had been that long since I used it last).

      I want to get a test done to find what my actual max HR is, right now 200 is more of a guess based on what I have read.

  3. I used a HRM at the beginning of my journey...I haven't used it in a while. That being said, I'm thinking of bringing back out.

    1. It can be a good tool, I need to be better about using it more.

  4. I really need a HRM, I have my Nike FUel Band that I use now but it doesn't give you second by second HR. I would love to use it during workouts and classes to see which ones I work hardest at!


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