10 Tips for Heart Rate Monitor Training

If you want to get the maximum benefits from your cardiovascular activity, it is essential that you exercise in the zone of your target heart rate (THR), which is generally 60-85% of your maximum heart rate.

1. Calculate Maximum Heart Rate


This allows you to set training zones which ultimately allow you to train properly in specific heart rate zones.

2. Get Accurate


Never go by the “rule of thumb” max heart rate calculation – subtracting your age from 220. This is not only inaccurate but also irrelevant. Max heart rate is solely individual and should be calculated during individual intense efforts. My favorite method is to calculate your max heart rate during a hard uphill race. Uphill workouts allow you to find your max much quicker than flat terrain. Interval sessions such as 5x1 minute uphill runs with short recovery times will push your heart to the max!

3. Test, and Re-Test


Every month or two, re-test your max heart rate as it can change. Fitness, lack of fitness, diet and fatigue can alter your maximum heart rate.

4. Listen To Your Body


When feeling under the weather try to drop your heart rate training zones by 15 to 20 percent. This will allow you to maintain fitness and also avoid mental fatigue during a down period of training.

5. Space Your Zones Out


When using a heart rate monitor during races try to avoid setting your low and high heart rate zones too close together. For example, if you set your low zone at 140 and your high at 145, you will find that it is hard to stay in your zone being that your parameters are only five beats per minute in difference.

This also forces you to start off too fast, which will cause the body to produce lactic acid early. During race efforts I tend to set my low and high heart rates about 15 BPM apart. During training it may be better to have more of a buffer to ensure you are rested during your building phase.

6. Know When To Rest


Use heart rate zones to avoid over training. If you are worried that you are over training try to set your high heart rate zone alarm at a max of 70 percent of your heart rate to assure you don’t produce too much lactic acid during easy training days. If you are feeling tired you can lower your low and high heart rate parameters by 5 to 10 percent for a few days until you feel ready to get back to normal pacing.

7. Check Recovery Progress


If you are trying to determine if you have recovered from a tough cycle of training and/or if you should do a hard workout that day, check your resting heart rate in the morning. If it is 5 to 10 beats higher than your average morning when you wake up, then your body is definitely telling you it’s not ready to run hard or the your body could be fighting a cold.

When the immune system is working too hard, you wake up with a higher heart rate than you would on normal days.

8. Be Smart


When choosing low and high heart rate targets, be smart. Instead of assuming that you will be able to hold 90 percent of your max heart rate for a marathon try to be realistic and choose a percentage/heart beat per minute that will allow you to optimize your performance and progress effort to the finish.

For example, try a 20 minute tempo and record your max, average, and low heart rates. Then, for your first race try plugging in your max and minimum heart rates from your workout.

9. Be Patient


If you start to fall below your heart rate zone, you don't need to sprint to raise it. Just pick the pace up a tad and after about 30 seconds take another check to see if you’ve reached your zone.

10. Pace Yourself


When using the Mio SLICE heart rate + activity tracker for tempo runs try to start with a low heart rate ranging around 60 to 70 percent of your max heart rate. Then try to progress to 80 to 88 percent near the end of the workout to familiarize your body with intensity changes over long efforts relevant to marathon/half marathon.
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