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Benefits of HR monitoring for training?

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Benefits of HR monitoring for training?

Postby blazin » Tue Feb 28, 2012 9:36 pm

I've been thinking about getting a heart rate monitor for a while, but can't quite convince myself that it will have significant impact on my training. How much more data does a (non-elite) athlete need than time (stopwatch) and distance (online mapping)? As long as I'm trying to go faster for longer and further do I need to do more to optimize the results I'm getting? Perhaps it's because I haven't taken the time to educate myself about how an HRM is used to improve training, perhaps it's because I'm too lazy to have a structured training regime--I know about and try to mix up interval, tempo and LSD runs, but I'll be damned if I can keep to a consistent schedule--but all these Suuntos, Polars and Garmins seem more like expensive toys than useful tools.

What are your experiences? Did training with a HRM help you, even if it was just a psychological boost to get out the door every day? Where can I read up on how to use a HRM to improve my training? Any recommendations on a good model?
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Re: Benefits of HR monitoring for training?

Postby radson » Tue Feb 28, 2012 9:47 pm

I like a HRM, it shows when I am slacking. In my workouts if my HR drops below 160 I know that I need to pick up my pace.
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Re: Benefits of HR monitoring for training?

Postby Hyadventure » Tue Feb 28, 2012 10:09 pm

I've been using one for decades. I like it, but I don't know that I'm in any better shape because of it?
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Re: Benefits of HR monitoring for training?

Postby mrchad9 » Tue Feb 28, 2012 11:21 pm

I think the biggest benefits of any of these gizmos is if they encourage you to go out and do more, not slack off, or have a goal to achieve. If they do that, it is very well worth it. If you stick to your objectives without them, then they are a waste of money.
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Re: Benefits of HR monitoring for training?

Postby Ben Beckerich » Wed Feb 29, 2012 2:16 am

Knowing your exact heart rate is interesting, but I don't think it's likely to help much. I think the Karvonen method works as well or better than anything else- it tells you what YOUR body is doing, not what some chart says your body is probably doing.
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Re: Benefits of HR monitoring for training?

Postby Mountainjeff » Wed Feb 29, 2012 4:18 am

I sometimes stop and manually take my pulse, but I never carry a HR monitor. I have used them in a gym and found it informative but not terribly helpful.
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Re: Benefits of HR monitoring for training?

Postby builttospill » Thu Mar 01, 2012 6:39 am

It might depend on how much you're training and for what purpose exactly.

I used them extensively when training for distance races, where I was trying to be careful keeping my easy days sufficiently "easy" (i.e. did not want to push too hard). They were also useful for making sure that tempo runs stayed at roughly the proper tempo, especially when running with a group that tended to compete with one another and go too fast.

I've never really used them when training for the mountains; I would if I was being as systematic as when I was running, though. If your goal for training is simply to go out and hike fast and far each time you do it, knowing your heart rate is not real helpful--I would only buy one if I had a purpose in mind (i.e. using it to structure training days and stay in particular zones of effort level).
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Re: Benefits of HR monitoring for training?

Postby bird » Sat Mar 03, 2012 5:14 pm

I know some people love them and swear by them. If you are a data geek, you'll probably dig it and get something out of it. If you are not, you probably won't use much after the first month.
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Re: Benefits of HR monitoring for training?

Postby ExcitableBoy » Sat Mar 03, 2012 10:07 pm

From my reading into the subject, for HRMs to be effective, one needs to medically determine their maxium aerobic heart rate in an exercise physiology lab, otherwise you are just guessing so the HRM won't be of any more use than going by one's perceived effort.
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Re: Benefits of HR monitoring for training?

Postby blazin » Mon Mar 05, 2012 8:34 pm

Thanks everyone, you just talked me out of blowing $300 I don't have on a new toy!
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Re: Benefits of HR monitoring for training?

Postby Kai » Tue Mar 20, 2012 7:57 pm

I used a heart rate monitor for years.

I don't think it significantly helped my training. However, it did have the effect of teaching me to lower my heart rate by thinking about it.

I can temporarily lower my heart rate significantly now when I want to, which can be useful in certain situations (taking a medical exam for life insurance, shooting a rifle at long distances.) I would never have learned to do this without the monitor. Not really a training benefit, but a fun side benefit.
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Re: Benefits of HR monitoring for training?

Postby peninsula » Wed Mar 21, 2012 1:27 pm

Heart monitors are helpful for many, but I don't find them helpful myself. When I train, I can feel my aerobic threshold without a monitor, I know when I'm on the edge and I know when I am slacking. I know when I'm having a good day and when I am not. I used a heart monitor for a few years and found it made little difference. What helps me the most to confirm where I stand with regard to conditioning is a stop watch, or even better, a GPS.
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Re: Benefits of HR monitoring for training?

Postby dan2see » Wed Mar 21, 2012 2:50 pm

It's like a pedometer. It's an objective, no-guessing measure of your performance.

You can wear it for a few sessions, and you'll soon get to know how your cardiovascular system is performing with your activities.
You'll get to know pretty well, how your heart is working. You can even monitor how it goes back to normal, after a cool-down.
You might learn that you're working too hard in one area, maybe slacking somewhere else.
Soon it will have done its job, and you won't need it any more,.

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