At the suggestion of a friend of mine who is an NSPA-certified instructor, I got a Polar heart rate watch last fall to help me train better. I read the Polar user manual and it was obvious the watch does a lot more than what I am ready to do in my training (different alarms for speedwork, a variety of lap settings, etc), and while I haven’t delved into the watch’s many functions, I did set it up to monitor my heart rate. My “own zone” is 65-85% of normal heart rate and I am almost always above the max.
I thought maybe it would be helpful to switch from the percent of heart rate to the actual heart rate setting thinking I would have a better idea of how I’m doing if I knew my actual heart rate. I do like seeing the HR rather than the percent of HR, however, I’m still not clear on what the numbers actually mean. For example, I did a 4.05 mile run with the watch beeping at me almost the entire time. My HR limits were 162/124 and I was only in my zone for 8 minutes of that run. Oddly, the rest of the time I was below my zone with an average HR of 120 despite the fact that my time on this run was the fastest I’ve had yet for that route. How could my HR have been so low when I was actually running faster?
Realizing the number of questions I have, I decided it was time to do some more reading. I turned to Polar’s website as well as an extremely helpful document called Optimal Results, a heart rate training program that was developed in 1994 by Dave Ruff, the National Personal Training Director for TFC Partners and owner of Ruff Fitness. In reading through the training articles on Polar’s website, I learned that I probably should first monitor my resting HR and then set up my own limits based on that number in order to properly conduct heart rate training. Continue reading