HRM - how should I use it!!

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The Evil Pixie    pirate
31/12/2002 at 13:50
(disclaimer - runner I don't think this question is answered in the multitude(sp) of other HRM threads!)

Guys I need some advice!(bet you hadn't guessed that one!)
I started running about 5mths ago and I am very slow with about 2st extra to carry with me! I have just managed my longest continual waddle of 6.5Miles.

Santa bought me a lovely HRM for Chrimbo and here lies my question!
The gym says I should exercise around 134bpm, Polar say my range (moderate exercise ideal for fitness and weight lose!) is 124-162 however my average HR whilst out waddling is about 180-182!

So do I...
1) slow down and walk/run so I keep within my "zone"
or
2) carry on regardless and use the HRM as a measurement of improvement?

Is my HR so high as I am an overweight novice or am I really pushing it too much (average of 12 min/m! so not fast!)??

Thanks fit people!

EP
31/12/2002 at 14:24
EP

Ummm...it's really not that easy to answer.

firstly - on what basis are those estimates from "the gym" and Polar made?

Is 180 your mean HR for the whole period of your run - or is that just what you tend to peak at?

You can take general, age based formulae (Karvonen), using max and min HR as a basis for calculating what HR you should be training at, but actual max HR figures quoted by runners on this forum (of varying degrees of fitness) suggest that these are not very accurate in the real world.

The problem is that there are many many factors which affect HR (as pointed out by Ron Grover in that marathon thread on General) - as a result, it can be very hard (unless you you pursue your training with the sort of exceptional, clinical detachment and precision that appears characteristic of, say, Drew) to establish exactly what your training "effort zones" are.
I wrote elsewhere (a while ago) that in practice, HR training seems more like an art than a science. I use one myself (have done for 8 years) - but, nowadays, more to tell me how much effort I've put into a session just completed, rather than to set limits to the effort I plan to put into a session.

Best practical idea I can suggest is to try a number of runs at different perceived effort levels and see what readings you get.

Sorry to be not very helpful
The Evil Pixie    pirate
31/12/2002 at 14:31
Mike!
Cheers I was afrad that it was a stupidly silly question to ask!
The 180 is my average according to the HRM but I did notice whilst looking at the watch that this was near enough a consistent rate! Highest was 188 when i tried (and failed!) to do a strong finish after 4 miles of steady plodding today!

The gym did the age from 220 and then said aim for 134 (my resting HR is 68)
Polar took age, height,sex and weight and gave me that range!
From treadmill work I have noticed that I "run" at a high HR whereas the X trainer and bikes etc tend to be a lower rate that would fit within the polar zone easily (the rower and occasionally the stepper take my rate to what would be a higher zone)

I assume I won't be damaging my heart by working at a high rate? Or would I!

Cheers again!
31/12/2002 at 14:34
I think a lot of gyms ignore resting heart rate and just do 220 - age and then do a percentage. This probably worked okay at first, but as I've got fitter really is useless to me.

I don't want to advise you to completely ignore the heart rate, because that could be dangerous, but I've learnt that I can safely not take the figures given by the gym that seriously. Whether the same would work for you is another matter!
31/12/2002 at 14:35
That HR average seems very high... I'd be a bit wary about the readings on just a single 'waddle' or two.

I've got a Polar S410 which I've learnt to treat with caution as the readings can be a bit weird, and can go from 0 to 240 before settling down at my usual average of 145 or so.

One bit of advice before getting too worried: Make sure the chest strap fits quite tightly. After tightening mine, the readings became much more sensible. Also, dampen the contacts with a bit of spit before setting out. Both these things will improve the accuracy.

When looking at the figures, don't just go by the final average and highest figures. Scroll through the list of reading taken every minute or whatever (presuming you can do this). Sometimes, you can get weird readings for several minutes before it settles down. This can dramatically affect the final average figures if you don't take them into account, and adjust accordingly.

And finally, you are looking at the average figure and not the maximum reading? Sorry if this sounds like I'm being patronising. But any gadget can get a bit of getting used to.

Andy
31/12/2002 at 14:37
Don't think so - you're "just" knackering yourself. Check out the sort of effort (& HR levels) Shattered Shins puts in on the Ron Grover thread on General, just for comparison.
The Evil Pixie    pirate
31/12/2002 at 14:40
RC .... unless there is any "influencing external factors" down the canal in theale my heart rate is high!
I will try to tighten the strap though.
The HRM I now have is the Polar M52 but I have previously had the loan of a very basic polar monitor that just said the rate and that said about the same so I guess that I work at a high rate

What figures should I record to show improvement? he max and average in comparision to time and distance?
31/12/2002 at 14:42
Sorry, just saw the other messages. Hmm, I'm no expert but the 220 system (though notoriously approximate only) should, I'd have thought result in a higher target than 134?

Andy

The Evil Pixie    pirate
31/12/2002 at 14:57
True - as I am 29 I guess my max should be 191 and therefore the 80% mark about 152 but I'm not sure if this 80% is an ideal goal rate for weight lose or a do-not-exceed!
31/12/2002 at 16:06
With my watch came some software that automatically records all the figures: ave, max and points in between. Quite honestly, I rareley look at them in detail, but obviously, the faster you run the higher rates will be. So for longer runs, where you're likely to be going more slowly, you should have lower readings. But exactly how you would analyse these figures (HR v distance/time) I'm not sure. Sorry for the cop-out answer but I don't dwell on the figures much after checking that they seem pretty normal. There is a good article about HR on this website somewhere, if you do a search.

Obviously there is the possibility that your HR is just natuarally a bit on the high side, so you should probably consider getting some proper medical advice, just in case you might be overdoing it.

Andy
31/12/2002 at 16:57
Pix - the 134 is probably the 70% figure - I think 60-70 is the band for weight loss. This isn't actually true in many ways - it's only a general thing and won't be true for everyone, plus it's more to do with the percentage of where the calories are lost from. In that range the greater number of calories will be lost through fat, higher up this will form the minority, BUT since the overall calories used may be higher, you may end up losing more fat anyhow. I think that's right, Dangly can probably tell you for sure.

I found I naturally sped up as I got fitter. I guess I could have run the same distance in the same time and had a lower heart rate. In brief, if you can do the same distance in a) less time at the same av. heart rate or b) in the same time but with a lower average heart rate, that must mean you're getting fitter. Even better is faster with a lower av. heart rate :-)
31/12/2002 at 19:15
Hi EP,

Don't panic about overly high readings - just go by how you feel. I think HRMs are a brilliant way to guage progress and individual performance, but if I'd stuck to the recommended range, I would frequently be walking!

I've been running for about 9 months now, I'm 14 years older than you, so theoretically my max ought to be 14 lower than yours. I used to regularly run at an average of over 175. Over the last few months this has come down to the mid 160s - partly through improved fitness, and I think also through varying pace (Ron's suggestion).

I find it very easy to get obsessive about HR - don't let it spoil your running!

Happy New Year all !
01/01/2003 at 16:41
Dear Evil,

It is with a heavy heart that I read this thread. To think that the joyous pixie I used to know and, there's no point denying it, love has succumbed to the temptations of a heart rate monitor. I see that you have already been sucked into the abyss that is the Wild Grover's thread and it may indeed already be too late to make further contact with you. Someone will have to break the news to Chimp; I'm not sure if he can take any more shocks, he's not been the same since Runner started being nice to him. Farewell Miss Pixie and please be assured that should you ever discard your gadgetry we will still be here to welcome you back with open arms.
01/01/2003 at 16:53
Evil Pixie!!

(I'm speechless DB. I'm going to have to come back to this when I've composed myself a little)
01/01/2003 at 16:57
Sorry Chimp, can't think of a worse start to the year (mind you, at least I haven't annoyed V-Rap).
01/01/2003 at 17:07
I think we might have lost EP to the REAL Dark Side!
01/01/2003 at 17:11
Yes Iain, but we must not lose sight of our mission. There are lots of serious threads out there in need of unwanted and inappropriate contributions. We should pause to reflect on the Pixie of old but then the work must go on.
01/01/2003 at 17:36
Ha ha! Shf legs and I have not been idle over the xmas period, oh no. It feels so good to know that banging on endlessly about the benefits of training with an HRM has brought another fellow member into the fold. We welcome you EP!
01/01/2003 at 17:42
Ep

If it makes you feel any better I peak at 181/2 in races and on hard runs. Normally high 160's to 170's. You will see an improvement. When I first started using mine I found that if I stuck to the upper range I could carry on for longer.

DavidB and chimp leave the lass alone!!!
01/01/2003 at 18:12
OMG. They're all at it!!!
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