What is wrong with my training?
• Do you use a heart rate monitor or a speed and distance monitor (GPS) when you complete your running exercise/training?
• Have you ever wondered if you were running at the correct heart rates and/or paces in training?
• Have you ever wondered why your heart rate while training is different than that of the people around you?
Heart rate monitoring has been around for years to gauge the effort or intensity of a training session. Although easily measured, heart rate is influenced by many variables which can provide a false indication of intensity (See Heart Rate Training Article). To make matters even worse, many utilize inaccurate equations based on age and resting heart rate to set max heart rate and training zones, which they then use as part of their training. Many of the monitors used to measure heart rate during a training session also utilize these same equations in setting training zones for purchasers. Again these are inaccurate. Here is the problem:
1. Max heart rate is not the same with people of the same age or gender (max heart rate is individual)
2. Max heart rate is only one measure of a whole range of aerobic intensities (5 to be exact)
3. Max heart rate equations assume that rates are the same between disciplines (running, cycling, swimming, etc), which they are not (Eg. 220 – Age)
4. Percentage of max heart rate in determining aerobic training zones assumes that these percentages are the same for everyone (which they are not)
The result is inaccurate training zones and limited improvements in fitness. Heart rate can be utilized as a means to measure the effort during a training session (provide you read and understand the limitations listed in the Heart Rate Training Article), but should not be utilized to determine aerobic training zones.
GPS monitoring has changed the way we measure effort when we train. Utilizing speed or pace, an individual can obtain instantaneous information regarding their current and average speed/pace over a given time or distance. The advantage of GPS monitoring is that most of the factors which influence heart rate are removed. This allows the individual to train at specific speeds and paces which reflect their individual fitness level and need for their training distance. Other factors need to be considered though:
1. When running with pace, increases in grade (incline) can change the zone at which you are training.
2. Increased wind conditions can also increase the zone at which you are training.
3. Overcast or covered conditions (trees, buildings, etc) can impact the pacing information.
Though, like heart rate, simply measuring your pace during a run does not disclose whether you are running the correct pace for a particular workout. Even monitoring these paces over several workouts does not disclose whether you are running at the correct paces. Believe me; we see the result of improper pace training in the lab everyday, with runners wondering what they have been doing wrong.
For the next article I will be looking at what a proper fitness test can tell you about your fitness and how that information can be utilized to maximize your training time, energy, and results.