Using heart rate monitors

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13/01/2003 at 22:16
One benefit of a heart rate monitor that I particularly appreciate is that it can tell you when you are really ready to increase your goal pace for various distances. When I started using it, I found that my competitiveness lead me to try to beat my PB on almost each training run, but that though my times were coming down fast, it wasn't just that I was getting fitter. Actually I was mainly just trying harder. This showed clearly as my average HR climbed from about 140 to towards 160. I was developing a tolerance for pain ( or denial ) faster that my physical systems for running. I could also see that when my actual work rate as measured by heart rate, not pace, was relatively constant, my times were better.
I know that this knowledge would probably have come with experience, without a heart monitor, but I might not have escaped injury, or burnout.
13/01/2003 at 22:43
OK, folks, here's a question that I've never understood the answer to and I'm sure you can help -

if my HR is higher than I'd have expected to for a known pace and I'm working in a higher heart rate zone (e.g. typically on a recovery run where I'm running in the anaerobic rather than the aerobic zone), because of: dehydration, glycogen depletion, caffeine intake, overtraining, heat or cold, headwind, hills, etc. - does that mean that I'm reaping the benefit of training in a higher heart rate zone and if not why not?
13/01/2003 at 22:53
PS. I forgot to include cardiac drift in the list of variables.

my point being, why do all the experts tell you to slow down when you move upwards into a higher zone, when it might have nothing to do with the pace you're running at?
13/01/2003 at 23:02
Achilles, it is this sort of persistence that has you achieving great things I'm sure! But just to pick away at this particular scab one final time before I sign off tonight.
I've never interpreted the advice as being to slow down, in fact quite the opposite, it makes me speed up as in 'oops,supposed to be threshold tempo session and here I am running at 70%'.
If you are supposed to be sticking below a certain level (and this, I think, is the idea you keep coming back to as being unhelpful) isn't the concept that your heart rate reflects how your body's responding to the effort you're putting in under those particular conditions? Therefore it is the most objective guide to a subjective human body?
Oh, hell I don't know, need a cup of tea!
13/01/2003 at 23:08
Thats a good question, although I don't think you can treat all the factors you mention in the same way.

I think you should take out the headwind and hills, at least, because those are obviously variables similar to pace. I mean that a 7 minute pace(say) up a hill can be similar in effort to a 6 minute pace down it. Ignoring for now the difference in the specific muscle training effect at the same effort because of differences in muscles used.
The same can be said for running into the wind versus with it. You have to adjust your "known pace" to keep the effort the same.

The other factors don't seem so clear, I hope you get some answers on them.

BTW, when you say you never understood the answer to this question, does that mean that you have had an answer, if so what was it?
14/01/2003 at 07:56
In echoing Laura's earlier comment about not wanting to bang on about this I'll just sum up as follows:

When training to a HR based programme, during the HR sessions, the fixation with 'pace' must be dropped. Pace is a subjective thing and cannot be scientifically gauged. HR is objective (whatever variables may be affecting it) and therefore is a better indicator of effort applied. For example consider a point to point route of x miles. On one day you may have the benifit of a tailwind whilst the next day you find you're running into a headwind. Attempting to run at the same pace on both days would result in totally different training effects for the sessions (ie one would require considerably less effort than the other.) A HRM removes this ambiguity and allows you to train at a known effort for whatever session you are attempting to complete.

I would also say that if anyone is finding that thier HR training programme is yielding too much 'slow' running this is probably down to one of two factors (or a combination of both)

1. Incorrect initial calculation of Individidual max HR (see earlier postings) prior to calculation of training zones

2. An incorrect balance of training efforts in the training schedule (typically too much recovery running)

If Individual max HR is accuately established and the subsequent training plan includes the right balance of tempo and speed sessions (as well as recovery and aerobic) you should have plenty of oppurtunity to run 'quickly' (ie above desired 'target' pace for whatever event you may be training for)
14/01/2003 at 08:18
and there endeth the lesson!!
14/01/2003 at 08:45
sorry David and Laura - apologies for being a pain. I should have remembered how passionate these discussions can become. (why is that? it's only a fancy wrist watch.)

I don't disagree with anything either of you have said, and certainly could never accuse you Laura of not training hard enough. ;-)

I won't prolong this because it's obviously vexatious (and I really don't mean to be - I just wanted to pick your brains).

but at the risk of being even more of a pain, let me just say that I was actually making a new point, though I made the mistake of repeating the one about running too slow.

(I'm only fixated on this one at the moment because every other thread on the forum seems to be a discussion of running slow and how an HRM will help you to do it.)

my new question was simply that if factors other than the effort of pace cause your HR to shift into a higher zone (e.g. cardiac drift), are you reaping any benefit from that? and if not why not? I'm not being provocative and I would like to know the answer.

David - did you really mean that "Pace is a subjective thing and cannot be scientifically gauged"? surely if I've run from point A to point B in X seconds and I know the value of X and the distance that A is from B, I can validly not merely gauge but calculate the pace I've run? I think the essence of my problem is that such hard and fast objective tests are harder to come by for HRM data, into which many variables (imponderables?) tend to have to be introduced.

I think there is a lot of talk that suggests that HR has a one-to-one correspondence with effort and this appears to me at least to be misleading.

and no Juggler - I've never read an answer to this question, I just can't write English very well. ;-)

14/01/2003 at 11:40

I think you're confusing review of post run data with setting of pre run objectives

When I stated that 'pace is objective' I was referring to using pace as a pre run gauge of intended effort (ie I want an anerobic run so I'm going to run at x minutes/mile)

Of course pace can be calculated after the event if both time taken and distance covered are known - but you can't use this information when you set out and then relate it to the effort you want to apply

I would agree that HR does not give a direct one-one correspondance with effort, however it does give a better indication than anythng else that's currently available
14/01/2003 at 13:22
I was thinking of getting a HRM but after reading all this I dont think I will bother, it all seems too complicated and after reading all the replies my head is spinning.

I run to keep fit, I am not that bothered about racing or speed, but I do like to extend the milage of my long run which now varies between 10 to 13 miles, weekly milage 26 to 30 miles, so will a HRM benefit me ??

14/01/2003 at 13:24
I couldn't keep away


Your question: If my HR is above my expected level for a given pace, am I obtaining the training effects associated with the higher HR level? (I want to check mutual understanding of the question here ;-)).

I’d answer as follows:

HR is but a proxy for the type of metabolic activity occurring in your key running muscles at a given degree of cardio-vascular development all other things being equal. (ie your heart stroke volume is unchanged day to day but does change as you rise up a flattening “fitness” curve over several months/years).

Your training benefits you seek are associated with the effects on your running muscles – eg lactate tolerance, lactate consumption, fat vs glycogen, aerobic capacity etc. You are not training your heart as such – that’s a by product.

Therefore I think the answer is that if the root cause of your HR change also affects your energy pathways then you will have an effect, if it doesn’t, you won’t.

I hope you see my comment “HR is but a proxy” is neatly putting me with a foot in both pro & anti camps – If you are an experienced runner with stable CV capabilities then other proxies (ie pace) are quite feasible. If your fitness is evolving or your are experienced then HR can be a useful support guide.

Now I’m not a sports scientist so would health warn anyone who quotes the above.

Sorry Gaz this isn't a help to you.
14/01/2003 at 13:39
thanks sfh legs - that's precisely the answer I was (not so ingenuously) probing for. nuff said.
14/01/2003 at 14:49

If it works for you then use it - if not then why bother?

Gaz I would say if you're primarily running to keep fit then save yourself the money - just enjoy your running and listen to your body - if you feel tired either run at a correspondingly slower pace or better still have a rest day - when you feel stronger (and you'll know when this is) then turn the wick up a bit

All the best with your running
14/01/2003 at 21:10
David P,

Thanks for your advice and for saving me a lot of money, I really do enjoy my running and as you say I run as I feel and I adjust my milage and speed accordingly.

Cheers David, Gaz.........

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