I want to thank everyone for their comments and questions about why I use a heart rate monitor. Since yesterday was a rest day (and I took advantage), I thought I would take today's blog to answer some of the questions that were asked:
(1) Which Heart Rate Monitor do I use/recommend: That's pretty simple because all I do is run. I use a Garmin Forerunner 305. I don't think there is a better device for runners on the market. Maybe the Garmin 405, but I'm not sure the smaller form factor is worth the extra $200. By the way - watch the specials if you are going to buy one - I've seen prices as low as $150 (Costco).
(By the way - mine doesn't look like that. It has a scraped face from my wonderful pavement kissing episode last summer.) The disadvantage of the Forerunner? It works best doesn't work indoors. So, if you spend time on treadmills or the like, the Forerunner will not work very well. Everything is calculated based on speed (velocity) and time. And to have speed you need to be moving according to the satellites. Also, the Forerunner doesn't work very well on a bicycle without the $50 cadence/speed sensor.
As an aside, I also own a Polar F4 for the time spent on my rowing machine. The Polar allows you to set heart rate ranges and will alert you when you go out of your training range. But, it doesn't have the GPS to allow you to track distance. I purchased this before I was a runner, and for $100 it certainly is a great tool for heart rate monitoring. One big advantage of the Polar is it is compatible with most gym equipment. So, you can wear your strap and see your heart rate without having to hold onto the pads.
So, if you're an old fart like me, putting in miles and wearing it all the time, a Garmin is the right choice. On the other hand, if you spend a lot of time on the treadmill, or plan on just using it on a hard run to measure heart rate, a Polar is probably the right HRM for you.
(2) AKA Alice also has another question - just how comfortable is that strap? Yeah well. Okay. Yeah. I guess I really don't feel it any more. It was uncomfortable when I first started. I even had a couple of sore spots where things didn't quite fit right. And chafing? Oh yeah. But after a couple years of daily use, I don't notice it's there. The bigger problem? HRM tan line!
(3) Irene asks if it makes any diference whether you're training for distance or speed: No I don't think so. If you have an LT session or a VO2Max session, you can still use an HRM to make sure you are in the right zone. The difference between training for shorter versus longer distance would be things like the distance of an interval (typically 400s/800s for short distance, 1600 for marathons) or the length of a long run (typicall less than 10 miles for shorter distance).
So there you go. Everything I know about HRMs. Plus some opinion thrown in. For the past few weeks I've been using mine to keep me from going too hard. Starting today, I'll get to use it to get me into that next training level. On tap today is a Lactate Threshold session - 5 miles general aerobic followed by 5 at half marathon pace. By the way - it turns out that the pace runs *are* considered LT runs. I found buried in Advanced Marathoning this past weekend - Pfitzinger considers a lactate threshold run as something about an hour in duration run at between 15K and Half Marathon pace. I'll be changing the goal of these runs on my Garmin from HM pace to the proper heart rate zone.
Stay cool and stay hydrated!