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Running with a Heart Rate Monitor

Per my Google+ friend Otto’s suggestion, I decided to do my long run this weekend with a heart rate monitor.  Another factor in my decision to do this was Brian from my VO2 test on Friday. He suggested I do my long runs at a pace where my heart rate was no more than 155 bpm. In the spirit of learning more about my body, I decided to go for it. Even if the pace seems too slow, it’s all to help me be a better runner. I’ll consider it a learning experience.

Friday I did a really bad job prepping for a Saturday 20 miler. I was uncertain if I would be running that far mainly because my leg was still a little sore. I slept in a little late and didn’t get out the door until 7:30 (and 78 degrees). My heart rate alert was set to 155 bpm and off I went. After only 3 minutes of running, my Garmin was beeping. That was quick. Throughout the entire run, my watch must have beeped no less than 100 times. I really have been overdoing it on my long runs.

My goal was not to look at the pace but only my heart rate. Once I let go of my obsession with the miles per minute, my run became sooo easy. I didn’t care how fast (or slow) I was going, which made the run much more enjoyable. Every time I started up a hill, beep. I had a reason to slow down and my body couldn’t have been more thankful. Everything about the run was less stressful. I didn’t hate the hills because I got to slow down. I wasn’t cursing the 90 degree weather, only thankful that I was getting a tan. My concern was the 155 bpm.

My pace per mile ended up being about a 1 1/2 minutes slower than normal, which according to many running sources, is about right. And thanks to my slower running, I was able to run without any pain in my leg. I only made it 17 miles and that was fine with me. Considering my improper nutrition and the heat, I still considered it a successful run. This morning I got in another 3.5 miles and felt great the entire time.

These past few days have proven to be a very valuable learning experience. First, my VO2 test showed me that I am pretty fit and if I train smarter, I can race better. Second, I came to understand the importance of slower running yesterday. It also helped me to appreciate running without the stress of feeling like I had something to prove.

Thanks Otto and Brian! I think I’ll be using my HR monitor a little more to keep me in check on the easy days.

Happy Trails and Happy Running,



Photor Source: Johntasdale, Wikimedia Commons

8 Comments Post a comment
  1. Welcome to the world of HR training! I’m a big fan using HR and time based training. It makes a busy professional’s life much easier to plan, and it works!


    September 2, 2012
    • Thanks Chas! I definitely think I’m going to like it and I’m hoping this will help avoid injuries. I also think it’ll be nice to let go of that pace per mile mentality and just go based on what the body is feeling. I’ve had this heart rate monitor for a few years – why am I just now using it?? 🙂

      September 3, 2012
  2. Which model do you use? Do you have a link?

    September 3, 2012
    • I use the Garmin 210. It’s a simple watch but includes all the things I’m interested in – pace per mile, distance, time, and heart rate. Here is the link:

      I previously had the Garmin 405 and did not like it at all. IT was too technical and it broke twice. I haven’t had any problems at all with the 210.

      September 3, 2012

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