Friday, April 5, 2013

Running Without A Heartbeat

Today's runners have more training options and data available to them than ever before.  And one of the most useful tools available on most watches and GPS devices is a Heart Rate Monitor.  They effectively track, in real time, how fast your heart is beating during a particular activity.  And most devices have a way of recording the data for later review.

My Garmin Forerunner 305 with Heart Rate Monitor
For about the past four years, I've tracked my heart rate, in beats per minute (BPM), on almost every single run.  Whether it was a race or a simple recovery run, I strapped on the ol' HR Monitor before a single stride.  Granted, I'm kind of a data nut.  But I love collecting it and analyzing it, and then later using it to try and improve.

However, I noticed over the past 6 months or so that I was spending way too much time watching it during a race or workout.  When my BPM got a little too high and my heart was beating a little too fast, I would instinctively slow down.  I mean, I don't really need to die doing this stuff.  But I found that in slowing down, in some cases I was cutting my workout or race short.

So recently I've left my HR Monitor in my bag, and simply ran by feel.  I can obviously feel when I need to slow down by how hard I'm working.  Plus, without focusing on the BPM, I feel like I'm running more naturally and letting my body dictate how fast and slow I go ... not what an LCD readout on a screen says.  I  mean, folks have done it for years, right?

I miss having the heart data to analyze at the end of a run, but I basically know what it's gonna say anyway.  And not having to wear a strap around my torso, just below my chest, is nice too.  (Glad I don't have to wear a bra).  I'm sure I'll wear it from time to time.  But for now, running without my Heart Rate Monitor has been a nice refreshing change.  Have a great weekend!
... be great today!


  1. I love my 305 and it's almost impossible for me to leave it at home. I've thought about it! Between the HR strap and my bra I feel like I can't breathe as well.
    You didn't break out in a rash and hyperventilate without the info? Haha...I'll have to give it a try!

  2. I've always run with my Garmin but never with the heart rate monitor. I think you will find that running by feel is very effective. I haven't died yet. Haha.

  3. I always run with the HR strap on but I don't actually have to look at the numbers unless I choose to. Some runs I have the HR screen displayed and those runs are for me to take the run easy. Other times I have the pace/distance screen up and try to run faster. When I get home I check out the rest of the data.

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  5. This sounds so appealing to me as I've never really gotten a HR strap that works well all the time and on the days it doesn't work it drives me batty. But I'm still wedded to it because I do have days where I feel like I'm working harder than I am (and therefore know I can still pick it up), and other days where I need to pull back but wouldn't necessarily feel it. So I'm still sticking with it, at least for now.

  6. Though, I like the idea of having the heart monitor stats, I much rather run by feel. I know my body, my pace. I know when to slow down and when to pick it up. I much rather do it that way.

  7. I just dont display the HR data when I don't want to...but I like collecting it so I can see how I'm doing.

    The garmin 610 lets you have 4 different 'screens'...which I really like for just that reason.

    Especially when I'm in a race I don't pay ANY attention to the that point I run by pace.

    During training I can tell if I'm working harder for a given pace by glancing at my HR.

    Anyway, not a bad idea to run without the HRM and go au-natural either ;)

    It's a hobby after all 8) The mail objective is to have FUN!

  8. I believe HR training is GREAT - for when you first start up running (after some time off or after a big race); it gets your body in the right zones it needs to be and from there you need to learn how to feel the run on perceived effort. Use the HR to check in now and then and see if you're making progress (a MAF test once a month) but otherwise you don't need it that much. If I had worn my HR today on my half, I never would have run as well as I did because I would have seen that too high HR and slowed way down, freaked by the number. But I felt good and thus I just keep going at that effort and it paid off (nicely, I may add. FINALLY). It is hard for data freaks like us, but looks like we're both learning :).


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