Unlike trying to judge your own efforts, your heart rate is a completely objective measure of how hard you're working, so you'll be able to fine-tune your training regime and plot a perfect race-day strategy.Plus, keeping an eye on your heart rate means you'll be able to spot looming illness and the effects of overtraining and side-step the risks of running under the weather.
Buying A Heart Rate Monitor
If you're preparing to splash the cash on a heart rate monitor (HRM), make sure you find your perfect match.
Heart Rate Monitors: The Basics
Do you need a £360 heart rate monitor - or will £30 be enough? Here's the low-down on what to look for in a heart-rate monitor – and how to get the most out of your new kit, complete with jargon-busting glossary.
Get To Know Your Heart Rate Monitor
Train at your best by getting to know the ins and outs of your heart rate monitor.
RW Test: Heart Rate Monitors
We test heart rate monitors from Dunlop, Suunto, New Balance, Oregon Scientific, Sigma, Cardiosport, Reebok and Nike.
Early days with a heart rate monitor might feel like you're learning to run all over again – not only are you strapping on that odd-looking chest strap before stepping out the door, but your new training paces might come as a surprise too.
Before you get started, work out the right benchmarks to work towards by finding your maximum heart rate. If you're a complete beginner, start off with this very approximate formula: 214 - (0.8 x age) for men and 209 - (0.9 x age) for women.
Unfortunately for some people this figure can be wrong by up to 24 beats per minute, so it's much more accurate to find your maximum heart rate through actually running. Warm up, then run as fast as you can at an even pace for three minutes. Recover with two or three minutes' gentle running, then repeat your three-minute fast run. During your second run, you should get a higher maximum heart rate.
Use a heart rate monitor, or get a helper to take readings throughout the session for complete accuracy, as your heart rate may peak before the end. To measure your heart rate quickly, hold two fingers (not your thumb) over your pulse for six seconds and multiply the number of beats by ten.
Heart Rate Training: The Basics
Get started with this snappy, foolproof guide complete with heart rate training zones and sessions.
Get To Know Your Heart Rate
How to interpret changes in your heart rate.
Our Best Practical Heart Rate Sessions
Incorporate these simple sessions into your training schedule, and you'll soon see the difference.
The Next Step
Once you've got the hang of your new piece of kit, step up a gear with this expert advice taking you through all the elements of your running regime. From big-race tactics to those tentative first steps after illness or injury, we've got the know-how that'll make sure your heart rate monitor earns a permanent place in your kit bag.
Monitoring Your Progress
You need more than one-off snapshots of your fitness levels to assess your progress properly - here's how to keep tabs on your training to make sure you're improving.
Finding Your Threshold Heart Rate
Make sure your threshold sessions are hitting the right note with this method for finding your threshold heart rate.
How To Use A Heart Rate Monitor For Threshold Sessions
Judging your speed can be hard - learn how to use your heart rate to gauge your threshold instead.
How To Use A Heart Rate Monitor For Interval Sessions
Step up your interval training with the addition of your heart rate monitor.
Racing With A Heart Rate Monitor
Harness your heart rate monitor and you can look forward to smooth and controlled race-day performances – plus a wealth of data for next time.
Coming Back From Illness
Get back on track – and make sure you stay there – with these top tips for using your heart rate monitor to get back to speed after illness and injury.
Training In Heat Or At Altitude
Avoid overstressing your body in the heat or at altitude by using your heart rate monitor to help you stay within your training limits.
How To Use A Heart Rate Monitor For Cross-Training
Work harder while cross-training by bringing your heart rate monitor into play.
Any QuestionsStill want to know if you're getting it right? Here are expert answers to some of your most frequently-asked questions:
- How should I calculate my maximum heart rate?
- Can a heart rate monitor help me lose weight?
- Is my heart rate too high in my steady runs?
- I can't do threshold runs. Is my heart rate monitor wrong?
- How often should I hit my maximum heart rate?
- What causes variability in heart rate?
- Why is my heart rate so high after long runs?