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Heart Rate Training - beginners guide



  • As it turns out, almost straight after I made my previous post my Garmin broke... Garmin have said they will replace it but I won't have the replacement until July so I decided to take the opportunity to try out a different device and have an Apple Watch SE. I went for my long run on Sunday and the HR tracking was completely different to usual. Usually there is a mile or so ramp up on the HR graph and then it stays up in the 150-170 area. This time the graph shows much higher and lower peaks and troughs, and I think this is the first time ever I looked at my watch while running and saw a HR in the 130's! So that settles it..... The Garmin wrist based monitor is the culprit!

    The first issue sounds like you have settled to running in zone 3 or the so-called grey zone, which is just above zone 2, which often feels not too hard in comparison to the next zone.

    As for the second issue about your heart rate being higher when you run slower. It sounds to me like a case of optical heart rate, cadence lock, wherein the watch locks onto your cadence rather than your actual heart rate. Ideally, you should wear the watch as tight as possible and about two finger widths up from your wrist bone.

    The most accurate way. I found of making sure my HR zones were correct was to buy a chest strap and do the inbuilt Garmin lactate threshold heart rate test. However, I mainly just use my heart rate strap indoors on the treadmill when I run outside most of the time I wear a Polar OH1 which is an optical sensor that you place somewhere on your arm and is more accurate than the one built in to a Garmin watch.

    Thanks. I think you're right about the cadence lock. And the aforementioned Apple Watch seems to sit naturally in a different position to the Garmin. It sits, where you say, about a couple of finger widths from my wrist bone and is somewhat tight. I don't wear my Garmin like that because it's uncomfortable -- usually it would be further up over the wrist bone area and not as tight. So you're more than likely correct!

    To add to the previous response, you really need to know what your maximum is to work out the zones, everyone is different.

    For example my easy pace would be 8:30 - 8:45 and my average HRM would be 121ish.

    I had the same thoughts as yourself about HRMS being uncomfortable I wore it once and it wasn't great but just kept wearing it, now I feel funny running without it.

    I will say having had a garmin and wahoo, I find the wahoo more comfortable and prefer the method of how it fastens.

    You can pick a HRM up on adverts for €30 odd.

    Thanks. I might consider it if it's just a case of getting used to it. I'd be worried about chafing with it though, but you don't find that an issue?

    Murph_D wrote: »
    The most likely reason for these strange figures is the optical sensor’s general uselessness. You simply can’t use it reliably for HR training. In fact I’ve turned mine off so I only get a HR reading with the chest strap. I know you don’t want to buy one but if you’re serious about HR training you will. The ‘watch inaccuracy theory’ is pretty much proven fact by now!

    Best of luck with it and keep us posted.

    Thanks. You're more than likely correct! I'm thinking I might just get a HR strap when I have my replacement Garmin.

  • longrunn wrote: »
    Thanks. I might consider it if it's just a case of getting used to it. I'd be worried about chafing with it though, but you don't find that an issue?

    Not at all, once I have it on it doesn't move during my runs.

  • You could also consider the polar oh1 or the newer Verity Sense they are both optical heart rate sensors but from the testing I have seen from trusted reviewers they are almost as accurate as a chest heart rate monitor yet more comfortable to wear.