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Why Heart Rate Training is a Big Benefit for Runners

Mar 20, 2020

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Runners typically focus on speed or endurance as a measure of their success. When you go out for a jog, you set a course and time yourself, then try to beat that time on your next outing.
This might not be the smart approach to running however. Now thanks to advances in portable fitness tech, we've seen a surge in 'heart rate training'.
Tracking your beats per minute, or bpm, could take your running to the next level.
<b>What is Heart Rate Training All About?</b>
Heart rate training involves using a heart rate monitor to measure your cardio performance while you exercise. You then use that data to measure how intensely you are working out and adjust as necessary.
Instead of trying to keep up a certain pace during your jog for instance, you will try to maintain your effort level to within a certain 'heart rate zone'.
The point is not to go all out and break your own personal speed record every time. Instead, you are training your aerobic cardiorespiratory system without impacting too strongly on your muscles.
This is only possible thanks to the best heart rate monitor watch types now being available to all at an affordable price. While chest straps are the most accurate, tracker watches are getting cheaper and more accurate all the time, and they're more convenient for the typical runner.
This used to be the domain of elite level athletes just a few decades ago, but technology now allows the everyday person access to the best personal fitness tracking possible.
<b>Zoning In</b>
You can measure your maximum heart rate (MHR), which is a measurement of your cardio performance when you have pushed yourself to the absolute limit during a workout.
Then of course you have a resting heart rate, which you can measure first thing in the morning after waking up for best results.
Between these 2 extremes are your personal heart rate 'zones'. We call them personal because they depend on your own MHR reading. Each zone is a percentage of your maximum, and they are roughly as follows:
Zone 1 - 55% to 65%. Your warm up and cool down effort level.
Zone 2 - 65% to 75%. Your base line exercise effort level, but not too taxing.
Zone 3 - 75% to 85%. This is when you are starting to push yourself and you have to concentrate.
Zone 4 - 85% to 95%. Not quite hitting your maximum, but a very tough yet sustainable effort level.
Finding your MHR can be done a few ways. Ideally, you'll get a professional assessment by a certified trainer, using equipment in a lab like a treadmill or indoor cycle trainer.
Many people estimate it using an age-based formula. The most common formula is to take your age and subtract it from 220. This is very rough though and doesn't take a lot of factors into account. 
A slightly more accurate equation is 208 - (0.7 x age). This is the Tanaka formula. Then you round to the nearest whole number. While these may not be personalised, they are fine as a starting point and you can always return for a more accurate assessment in the future. 
<b>How do you know which zone to train in?</b> 
Well it all depends on your fitness goals. Are you training up for a marathon for example? In that case, you'll want to spend the majority of your time training in zones 1 and 2, which is the pace you'd go at during the marathon itself. Then for a smaller percentage of your training time, you can do interval training in zones 3 and 4. 
If you're new to running or easing back into it after some time off or an injury, then once again you'll want to do more training within zones 1 and 2, for 6 weeks or more.
Some people may even find it difficult to not push themselves so hard. Running slowly at lower heart rate zones may not feel like you're making enough of a difference, but you need to take recovery into account.
These are scientifically proven methods to get the best results, and that's why having this tech affordable to all is such a game changer.

Runners typically focus on speed or endurance as a measure of their success. When you go out for a jog, you set a course and time yourself, then try to beat that time on your next outing.

This might not be the smart approach to running however. Now thanks to advances in portable fitness tech, we've seen a surge in 'heart rate training'.

Tracking your beats per minute, or bpm, could take your running to the next level.

 

What is Heart Rate Training All About?

Heart rate training involves using a heart rate monitor to measure your cardio performance while you exercise. You then use that data to measure how intensely you are working out and adjust as necessary.

Instead of trying to keep up a certain pace during your jog for instance, you will try to maintain your effort level to within a certain 'heart rate zone'.

The point is not to go all out and break your own personal speed record every time. Instead, you are training your aerobic cardiorespiratory system without impacting too strongly on your muscles.

This is only possible thanks to the best heart rate monitor watch types now being available to all at an affordable price. While chest straps are the most accurate, tracker watches are getting cheaper and more accurate all the time, and they're more convenient for the typical runner.

This used to be the domain of elite level athletes just a few decades ago, but technology now allows the everyday person access to the best personal fitness tracking possible.

 

Zoning In

You can measure your maximum heart rate (MHR), which is a measurement of your cardio performance when you have pushed yourself to the absolute limit during a workout.

Then of course you have a resting heart rate, which you can measure first thing in the morning after waking up for best results.

Between these 2 extremes are your personal heart rate 'zones'. We call them personal because they depend on your own MHR reading. Each zone is a percentage of your maximum, and they are roughly as follows:

 

Zone 1 - 55% to 65%. Your warm up and cool down effort level.

Zone 2 - 65% to 75%. Your base line exercise effort level, but not too taxing.

Zone 3 - 75% to 85%. This is when you are starting to push yourself and you have to concentrate.

Zone 4 - 85% to 95%. Not quite hitting your maximum, but a very tough yet sustainable effort level.

 

Finding your MHR can be done a few ways. Ideally, you'll get a professional assessment by a certified trainer, using equipment in a lab like a treadmill or indoor cycle trainer.

Many people estimate it using an age-based formula. The most common formula is to take your age and subtract it from 220. This is very rough though and doesn't take a lot of factors into account. 

A slightly more accurate equation is 208 - (0.7 x age). This is the Tanaka formula. Then you round to the nearest whole number. While these may not be personalised, they are fine as a starting point and you can always return for a more accurate assessment in the future. 

 

How do you know which zone to train in?

Well it all depends on your fitness goals. Are you training up for a marathon for example? In that case, you'll want to spend the majority of your time training in zones 1 and 2, which is the pace you'd go at during the marathon itself. Then for a smaller percentage of your training time, you can do interval training in zones 3 and 4. 

If you're new to running or easing back into it after some time off or an injury, then once again you'll want to do more training within zones 1 and 2, for 6 weeks or more.

Some people may even find it difficult to not push themselves so hard. Running slowly at lower heart rate zones may not feel like you're making enough of a difference, but you need to take recovery into account.

These are scientifically proven methods to get the best results, and that's why having this tech affordable to all is such a game changer.