Occassional thoughts about orienteering

Thursday, July 17, 2003

A few thoughts about heart rate monitors


Eric wrote a few comments a couple of days ago that inspired me to come up with a few comments about heart rate monitors.

1. Obviously you can be a very good orienteer without ever using a heart rate monitor.

2. If you run with a heart rate monitor for a while -- maybe a couple of months -- you can get a good feel for what your heart rate is without having to look at the monitor. You'll be running along and think, "ok, I'm running at about 140", look at you h.r.m and you'll probably be within a couple of beats of 140.

3. A lot of good elite orienteers use heart rate monitors. When I was at the WOC in Finland one of the things I noticed was that a lot of the orienteers wore heart rate monitors. I don't know what the proportion was, but it was high -- closer to half than a quarter.

4. I suspect that h.r. monitors are most useful for certain people. If you're working with a coach who doesn't see you everyday, a heart rate monitor can help provide some objective data to share with the coach. If you're a relatively inexperienced runner, a heart rate monitor might be a good investment because it can help you learn how to run at different efforts. If you have no structure in your training (just "run whatever feels right") you could probably benefit from adding some structure -- a h.r.m can help.

5. I suspect that h.r. monitors are least useful for certain people. If you don't work with a coach, your own subjective estimate of your effort might be enough (especially if you're an experienced runner). If you're very structured in your training ("next Thursday I plan to run a 22 minute warm up at 140 bpm, then I'll stretch for 8 minutes, after another 5 minutes at 140, with some strides, I'll do 15 minutes at 80 percent of my max...."), running without a h.r.m. might be worth trying.

6. I think of my heart rate monitor as a toy. It is fun to download the h.r. curve after a run. You might learn a thing or two, but mostly it is just kind of cool to see the data. I guess that can be motivating.

posted by Michael | 8:02 PM


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