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HRM built into sports tech: a useful training tool, can be helpful in some cases (please suggest these), a nice bit of data but ultimately useless for most people, or pure vanity? Discuss.

This issue is raised particularly in the context of someone who does not intend to progress beyond perhaps a half marathon one day.

Thanks!

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I'd say not quite essential, but having one allows a training programme structured around effort rather than pace.
 

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I like mine (optical sensor on my Garmin watch), yeah it's not 100% accurate all the time but its normally good enough. I just use it for fun (i should get out more) really, and to make sure easy days are easy but you really don't need a HR monitor to tell you that, no matter what distance your training for.
 

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I think good, healthy running is based on training intensity. I think most of us concentrate purely on performance and train by pace, which means most of us will never achieve anywhere near our true potential as a runner, or will ever truly enjoy or appreciate running in it's purest form.

I think learning to run by feel is the best option, leaving your watch at home for the odd run is probably the best move most runners could ever make to help improve their performance or enjoyment of running, but I think a heart rate monitor is also a great option and can be a valuable tool in helping people to run at a lower intensity, it depends what works for the individual really.
 

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I like using heart rate because it shows me progress - if my heart rate is lower at a given pace consistently then I know I am getting fitter which gives me confidence in what I am doing.


I also like to use it in a race and see if I actually pushed the entire time.

It was a great thing to use for me starting out but most of the time I can run pretty well by feel. So no I wouldn't say its essential at all but it can be helpful if you aren't confident in your perceptions of easy and hard efforts.

I don't think a watch is essential either but I like it. It makes recording runs easier so I feel like I am doing something. Maybe one day I will run without a watch for a year or something and see how I get on!
 

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I like using heart rate because it shows me progress - if my heart rate is lower at a given pace consistently then I know I am getting fitter which gives me confidence in what I am doing.


I also like to use it in a race and see if I actually pushed the entire time.

It was a great thing to use for me starting out but most of the time I can run pretty well by feel. So no I wouldn't say its essential at all but it can be helpful if you aren't confident in your perceptions of easy and hard efforts.

I don't think a watch is essential either but I like it. It makes recording runs easier so I feel like I am doing something. Maybe one day I will run without a watch for a year or something and see how I get on!
That would be something, one year of running and racing sans watch, not sure i could though..which a little sad
 

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Like others have said it's a useful tool, but not essential. I found it very useful when learning what different intensities should feel like. It's all very well saying "run by feel" but if you're not experienced that may not be immediately obvious. It can also help you keep a lid on things if you're feeling good but know you need to be doing an easier run.

These days I have a much better sense of my running so rely less on my HRM when actually out running. However it's still useful when comparing myself to previous runs etc. I've actually set up a page to work out my "heart beats per mile" for the week, which is a good way to get a general sense of how fit I am. As you can see, I was on a great trajectory getting fitter as I trained towards Brighton, and since then it's all gone to shit... :D
 

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There are 3 main ways to measure effort -

1. Perceived effort (1-10)
2. Pace
3. Heart rate

Personally I think perceived effort is too subjective.

Pace and Heart rate are the ones I use especially in training. I tend to only race up to 10k so I would say for racing it is counter productive to use pace and heart rate. Half marathons and marathons I probably would use pace and heart rate to measure the effort.

Referring to your watch I think in my experience does not help you get the best out of yourself in races. We are all built with internal GPS. We know the distance and we know what to do naturally so I've learned to just run in races (note - I still use my garmin just use a blank screen with no data so i'm not tempted, and switch off alerts etc.).

So overall I think the HRM is great as a training tool. At the moment I have 5 zones based on a % of my lactate threshold. I think one of the problems is we are all different so it is important to be sure on key measures so as your maxiumum HR and Lactate Threshold HR. Personally I think its worth the investment in finding these out professionally if you are keen to improve.
 
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