Where does my heart beat now?

It’s been over a week since I last posted, and I didn’t tell you yet about my recent adventures with a heart rate monitor, so buckle your seat belts, you’re in for a wild ride….

Last Sunday I took my heart rate monitor and Garmin to the gym to use the heart rate monitor for the first time ever. It came with my first Garmin back in 2010, and I could never get it to pair with the watch. To be fair, I didn’t really try very hard because I wasn’t interested in heart rate training at the time. However, the 80/20 running plan uses heart rate training so it seemed like a good time to dust off the heart rate monitor.  (You don’t technically have to use heart rate training for 80/20 running, but it does seem to be the author’s preference, so I figured I’d give it a try since I have the heart rate monitor anyways.)

A couple weeks ago I got it paired up with my current Garmin, and last Sunday I took it for a spin. I tested it out by using it to set up heart rate training zones for two different types of cross training – the arc trainer and uphill treadmill walking. Whether or not I end up using these zones is questionable, but I mostly just wanted to do a dry run of the process. I’ll have to use the same method to set up my heart rate zones for running. And, I wanted to make sure that the heart rate monitor actually worked. It did.

2015-01-25 13.52.05New buddies!

And, here’s what I learned:

  • Wearing a heart rate monitor is annoying. It wasn’t comfortable. While it wasn’t awful, I knew it was there the whole time. I don’t know what it’s going to be like when I run in it (specifically, for a long time); I’m hoping I eventually get used to it and forget it’s there. Maybe I had it on too tight? I probably won’t be wearing it ALL the time, but at first I’ll have it on more often than not.
  • The 80/20 running book has you set heart rate zones based on lactate threshold heart rate. There are 5 zones, based on percentage of this heart rate. There are several ways to determine your lactate threshold heart rate, and I went with the perceived effort method. At first I tried to use the talk test method. I’ve been using a talk test for years in training runs, but reciting the pledge of allegiance at the gym wasn’t working out. (I was more or less trying to whisper, and I don’t think that was giving me the same results as speaking out loud.)
  • The perceived effort method basically requires you to record your heart rate at various effort levels. On a scale of 1 to 10, level 6 is your lactate threshold heart rate. Level 1 is “extremely easy” and level 10 is “extremely hard” with 6 being “slightly hard”. Technically, you could stop once you hit level 6, but I kept going all the way to 10. It was easier to figure out what “slightly hard” was when I had a better frame of reference.
  • For the arc trainer, I ended up with a lactate threshold heart rate of 167, and for uphill treadmill walking I ended up with 154. I think the uphill treadmill heart rate was a little off because I had a tough time controlling my effort on the treadmill. When it comes down to it, even though you’re the one who pushes the buttons the treadmill is in charge of your speed.

Heart Rate Graph

I made a graph because I’m a huge dork, and as you can see, the green line (treadmill) seems to dip in the middle. I don’t know if it’s supposed to be a straight line, but let’s assume it is. In that case, I have proof to back up my theory about the uphill heart rate being off. (Sorry about the terrible quality of the tiny little graph.)

 

  • When I set up my heart rates for running, I’m probably going to use the treadmill. I wanted to do it outside after what I experienced with the uphill walking, but it looks like real winter finally showed up and now there’s snow everywhere.  And, I know I won’t be able to do this test in the snow. At least not without falling. We’ll see what it’s like out next weekend when I plan on doing the test, but I’m expecting to need the treadmill.
  • After figuring out the heart rate monitor, I set up an awesome spreadsheet that calculates my heart rate zones from lactate threshold heart rate. All I have to do after the running heart rate test is enter my lactate threshold heart rate, and through the magic of excel, my heart rate zones are all set for my 80/20 plan.  Looks like taking 3 weeks off running is making me super prepared for my next training cycle. (I’m going running tomorrow!!! eeeeeeeeee!!!)

Have you ever used a heart rate monitor?

Do you make graphs based on your running? 

Did I say “heart rate” a million times in this post? 

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6 thoughts on “Where does my heart beat now?

  1. Hey! Great post and I love that you said, “heart rate” lots!! Awesome! 🙂 When I cycle on my trainer, I use my heart rate monitor and although at first, it was a little uncomfortable, I’ve gotten used to it a little bit more. Have a fab day! XOXO

  2. I’ve only ever used a HRM to get a more accurate estimation of calories burned, not to stay within specific zones. It just seems like one more thing to be worrying about, and I already have enough to think about with breathing, form, pace etc.

    • Yeah, I’ve basically never been interested because it just seemed like another thing to take with me and another thing to pay attention to. In theory, I wouldn’t use both pace and heart rate to determine my effort, but we’ll see whether I’m able to really follow that. If I’m feeling good, but my heart rate has me running slow, I don’t know if I’ll listen. 🙂

  3. I’ve never run with a HRM mostly for the comfort factor… and also because I’m honestly not sure how much I’d actually use the data. But your 80/20 program sounds like it would be the perfect place for it! Maybe you don’t have the wear the strap quite as tight? Or maybe it’s one of those things that takes some getting used to? Either way, it’s too bad it was uncomfortable for you. Hopefully it gets better!

    • I’m hoping it was just too tight. I think that when I was unable to get it to pair with my garmin back in 2010, I made it super tight, hoping that would help. I guess I’ll find out as I give it another try.

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