Thursday, June 8, 2017

Starting with Heart Rate Training

I have gotten some questions about how I started with Heart Rate training so I thought I'd share my process.  I'm definitely learning things as I go along and still have a lot of questions but here are the steps I've gone through so far.

1.  First step was getting a heart rate monitor that would work while running.  There are various options out there from chest straps to armbands to ones that are integrated into the GPS watch.  I decided to go with upgrading my Garmin from the 220 to the 335 so it would have an integrated heart rate monitor.  The main reason I went with this option is that I didn't want to add to the amount of gear I had to have for a run.  The downside is that this was expensive but I'm turning 40 tomorrow so this was an early birthday gift from my parents.  Thanks mom and dad!

2.  The next step was to program the watch with my information so that it could calculate the correct heart rate zones for me.  I found this easier to do on the computer then in the app.  I don't even know if it can be done in the watch itself.  The first thing is to calculate your max heart rate.  There are more precise ways to do this but I just went with the general calculation, which is 220 minus your age.  So for me, 220-40 would be 180.

3.  After that, I had to decide what method I wanted to use to calculate my heart rate zones. 


The default with my Garmin was based on a percentage of you max heart rate and that's how I tried it for my first run.  But the heart rates seemed way too low for me with that method.  So I tried it with Heart Rate Reserve and that seems to work well for me.  It takes your resting heart rate into account as well, so you have to know that.  I know it from my fitbit but you can also calculate it the old school way by taking your pulse first thing when you wake up before getting out of bed.  The American Heart Association has a pretty good explanation of how to do this.

4.  And then I needed a training plan.  Since I'm not training for any actual races right now and my goal is just to get comfortable with heart rate training, I picked a 10k heart rate training plan from Garmin so it would be easy to sync the information with my watch.  I can make changes on the calendar or app but I have to remember to sync that over to my watch before starting.


The training plans with hearts next to them include the heart rate training.  They also have general "getting fit" plans and even triathlon training plans! I had not idea any of this was available until Heather of 3 Black Cat Co. pointed it out.

5.  But I still have things I'm trying to figure out.  For example, the Garmin plan calls for hill runs and recovery runs both in zone 2.  Is it ok for my heart rate training to be in a higher zone when running uphill? Otherwise, what's the difference between a hill run and recovery run for those of us in a hill area?  And where should threshold runs be?  Intervals, 10k pace and threshold pace are all listed as zone one just a higher heart rate within zone 4? June 13th below is a good example of that.


And I've never seen it use Zone 3 yet.  Is zone 3 just not beneficial?

So that's where I am with heart rate training for now!  I'll update as things continue and hopefully as I figure more things out :)