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Saturday, August 19, 2006

Heart Monitor Training #3

By Alex Sinha

How To Measure Results

The ultimate goal of training with a heart monitor is to be able to run longer and faster with a lower heart rate. If you keep track of your results, there will be a couple of ways to see the progress.

First, as you improve, you will see that running the same distances at the same heart rate will become easier. Effectively, you will be able to run faster for these distances without your heart having to work as hard. This is a direct reflection of increased efficiency of the heart. To see this, try running a set course - with your monitor - that is several miles long, and stick to a preset speed, perhaps your marathon pace.

Then, under similar weather conditions, try the same course again a few weeks later. Run it at the same pace as you ran previously, and compare your heart rates for the two runs. If you've gotten fitter since your first run, your heart rate should be lower during your second.

Another way to see results is to keep track of your resting heart rate by taking it down and recording it every morning before you get out of bed. Many trainers recommend that runners keep track of their RHR on a daily basis, and, as stated above in the RHR section, increased fitness should bring with it a lower RHR.

What Kind of Heart Rate Monitor Should You Buy?

While there are several styles of heart monitors, the most accurate and popular have two components: a chest strap that contains the sensor and the transmitter, and a watch-like display, with a receiver, for your wrist. These devices come with an array of different features, and can range greatly in price.

Basic Features: The most fundamental feature inherent to a heart monitor is the ability to measure your heart rate.

Also, since they are worn on your wrist like a watch, most heart rate monitors feature a display that has all the functions of an athletic watch, as well as a feature that allows you to set adjustable heart rate limits. These displays can differ with regards to the size of the digits and the size of the screen, backlighting, water resistance, and so on.

Other Features: A number of the more advanced features are potentially quite useful.

· Complex Data Analysis: Higher-end model heart rate monitors can make more complicated calculations and summaries of recorded data. Some heart monitors allow you to automatically record your MHR and your lowest heart rate for the workout, and to make more complex calculations, such as overall averages, disparities between high and low rates, and the like.

· More Sophisticated Data Collection: Some heart monitors can estimate the number of calories you are burning and measure the ambient temperature. Other options include altitude measurement and estimation of your VO2 (a value related to your body's oxygen consumption).
· Larger Memory Bank: Many basic heart rate monitors can record only one workout at a time, forcing you to record your data elsewhere between every use of the device. Heart rate monitors with larger memory banks can record multiple workout results without erasing earlier records. This can be convenient - especially if the monitor is not computer compatible, and recording results must be done manually instead.

· Computer Compatibility: If you wish to record your results accurately and quickly, it may be better to seek out a heart monitor that can be plugged into your computer, though this tends to be among the most costly of features.

These monitors come with software that will allow you to save and graph various readings that the monitor has taken over the course of your workouts. After a workout - or after several - you can download your results onto the computer, where you can display and analyze the data in a number of different ways.

· Coded Signal: Because heart rate monitors have two separate components (the chest strap and the wrist display), the readings from the sensor on your chest must be transmitted to your display. If the signal is not coded, then interference caused by jogging with another runner who is wearing a heart monitor can occur, yielding inaccurate readings.

· Recording of Bicycle Workout Data: Some of the more expensive models have a whole set of options for use while riding a bicycle, such as measurement of distance and a memory bank for more than one bicycle's wheel size, among others. This can be useful both for those who train by bicycle and those who are forced to use a bicycle to get back in shape after a leg injury.

Cost: A basic heart monitor can cost less than $50. A high-end monitor with many extra features can cost as much as $350, and possibly more. In general, the most expensive monitors are those that can download their data onto a computer. Ultimately, though, the feature combinations and the associated prices are so varied, that it is difficult to classify heart monitors by both cost and capability. There are quite a large number of functions as well, some which are not even discussed here.

You may find that some cheaper models may actually contain more of the features that are desirable to you, so it would be a good idea to decide which of these features you value most before deciding on a model.

Where to Buy:

You can find heart rate monitors at your local running or fitness store. This site, offers a wide selection of monitors and is committed to providing the lowest prices.

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1 comment:

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