Remember how I said there was a difference between running and training? Watch this video interview with Shalane Flanagan and that’ll be the only further explanation needed.
That said, I came across an article all about heart rate monitors. Now, coincidently I had a discussion about these contraptions not so long ago and here is what I’ve come to realize: you either love them or hate them.
Here is what I think about them:
* Pro: they can be a great learning tool if you are new to running. Sometimes people just aren’t familiar with what a tempo or hard effort feels like…they need a slight nudge to ‘eh, pick it up buddy.’ Conversely, people can get overzealous and not go easy enough on their easy days and so a heart rate monitor can help them stay in check.
*Con: they are annoying and I always get strap chaffage. That’s just me; but I don’t like having any extra stuff on me when I run.
*Pro: if you have any medical issues or are again, just starting out, you want to make sure you’re being safe and all that jazz. If a doctor has told you to only go to a certain degree of effort, you best listen up.
*Con: it can suck you in and get you too technical. The same with Garmins, sometimes in our era there is the tendency to just get too obsessed about the details. What was my HR at mile 3.47, why did it spike here, why is it low there? All of those questions can start to cycle through and you end up overanalyzing things. What happened to just go and run?
*Pro: a reality check. If your workouts are suffering and you’re feeling run down, maybe pulling out the HR monitor for an easy run can reveal some things: if you’re running those easy days too hard you’ll find out. Then adjust and re-remember what easy feels like.
So there are pluses and minuses, as with anything. And as with anything maybe it is more a matter of striking a balance or only using the tool in it’s time and place. I think the longer you’ve been at it though you ‘know’ your body well enough and not need it as much. But to each their own!
PS- I will say that if you do check your heart rate first thing in the morning and start to notice that it’s higher than usual, you can sometimes get an early warning that something is awry. (ie: you’re overly tired, stressed, or about to get sick)
1) Have you used heart rate monitors? Do you like them?
2) How do you gauge effort on your runs, if you’re not on a marked trail or track?
My breathing and just perceived effort; if I’m doing a fartlek and just go hard when I’m supposed to.