Over the past few weeks, I have noticed a number of popular running magazines writing about heart rate training. Google heart rate training and you are awash with articles; some applaud it whilst others rebuke it. Personally, I am a massive fan of training with heart rate – maybe too much; studying heart rate training for my MSc, has enhanced this addiction. One aspect that I have noticed when reading articles that are pro heart rate training, is the consistent failure to advise how strict individuals have to be when training using heart rate.
To train well using a heart rate monitor takes dedication and understanding. If you set out to run within a certain heart rate zone then you need the perseverance to ensure that you stay within that zone. Stray outside of your prescribed training zone and you may not achieve what you set out to do during your training session, therefore, increasing/decreasing your speed is an integral part of heart rate training. There will be times that you seem embarrassed by how slow you are going, especially in the lower zones. Stick with it. The improvements will come and before you know it, your pace will increase with your heart rate staying the same. Whilst this embarrassment is not too bad when you are running on your own, when running with others, it is easy to throw heart rate training out of the window as our competitive streak will appear and we end up competing against individuals who we feel we should be quicker than.
Personally, I use my Saturday Park Run to work on my heart rate whilst in the pressure situation of running with other individuals around me. I pick a zone that I want to train and stick to it. I admit that there are times when I feel like speeding up when I get overtaken, but, with dedication and commitment I know that eventually, with the improvement in my heart rate, I will get quicker. I urge individuals to try running to heart rate in a competitive situation. You may not win the race, but it will instill the precision that is required for heart rate training.
There are many factors that affect heart rate training; too many to put on one post. For those who wish to pursue heart rate training, there are many sites that will give advice for training using a heart rate monitor. Alternatively, please feel free to comment on this post I would be happy to provide free advice.
In my opinion, heart rate training is a key aspect to cardio vascular training ensuring specificity and avoidance of overtraining. Heart rate training will, in the long term, assist you in becoming a more disciplined and fitter athlete. It will teach you when you can push and when to hold back; when to train and when you need to recover. It will allow you, the individual, to ensure that you are getting the best from your training. Train using a heart rate monitor, watch your fitness improve and achieve the unthinkable.