A couple months ago, I invested in a Garmin watch for running, specifically the Garmin 405cx. I had been using MyTracks on my Droid to track my time, distance and pace during my runs, but frankly, I was getting tired of strapping a bulky smartphone to my arm while running. (I don’t listen to music when I run.) Plus, I liked that this watch included a heart rate monitor.
(Looking for a review of the Garmin 405cx? Here it is: I love it. It’s awesome. Easy to use. The whole bevel thing is fine. That seems to be the only hang-up some people have, based on the reviews I read before buying it. If you are comfortable with tech gadgets [say you are young enough that you have spent your entire life playing with tech gadgets, starting with an Atari joystick, of course] you won’t have any issues with the bevel. The GPS is always accurate, and the watch finds my location fairly quickly. It’s a great watch. Buy it.)
Anyway, I’ve had the watch for a couple months now and so far have really only paid attention to my pace. (And time/distance of course.) The heart rate stuff has been an afterthought. (Oh, that was my average heart rate? Neat.) I don’t know much about heart rates and working out, what I should aim for, what’s good or bad.
I figured I should though. I spent all this money on the watch, plus I don’t feel like I have a very good handle on what paces I should be running. I always start off too fast. I try to listen to my body, but there’s a lot to listen to – legs, lungs, heart. Obviously if I’m in pain, I’ll stop/slow down. But what am I capable of? Especially as I up my weekly mileage?
And frankly, I’m nervous about my next race – the Rock ‘n Roll Chicago Half Marathon. So far I’ve only done one half marathon, and yes, I’ll admit I didn’t stick to my training plan during the last couple weeks leading up to that race. But I didn’t do a good job pacing myself. I averaged around 10:45-11:30 pace for the first 8 miles and then I guess I hit the wall (or the half-wall … get it … ) I felt like if I wanted to finish at all, I would have to walk the rest. I did much better during my last longer distance race – the Soldier Field 10. No idea what my pace was from mile-to-mile though. I must have inadvertently changed a setting on MyTracks and it didn’t calculate my time at every mile.
Anyway, Google lead me to this article from Runner’s World (I figure they know what they are talking about): How To Use A Heart Rate Monitor.
It’s written in plain English – no mention of lactate threshold or VO2 max. (I’ll save that for later.) The article gives formulas for calculating your maximum heart rate (MHR), and also suggested ranges for different types of training runs and different races (as a percentage of your MHR). Simple enough.
And since I have a not-so-secret love of spreadsheets, I dumped it all into a Google doc spreadsheet, and used formulas to calculate all this stuff for me. So now when I run, I know what heart rate to target. BONUS, when I age another year, all I have to do is change one cell in the spreadsheet and all my info is updated. (Super geek mode – I’m sure I can put in a formula so that it updates my age for me based on my birthdate and the current date.)
So, my gift to you – Chart of Target Heart Rates, by age and distance.
All you have to do is replace field A2 with your current age and it should calculate your heart rate info. If you can, feel free to download a copy for yourself, or save a copy to your own Google docs. Unfortunately if you just do copy-and-paste, it won’t pull the formulas, just the values. Feel free to share with others (if you share a copy and not the link above, just make sure to give credit where it is due, as I did on the spreadsheet).
My question to you – do you keep track of your heart rate while you run/exercise? Does everyone else do this and I am just the last to figure it out?
And if you know anything about this stuff, do these formulas/heart rates sound correct? The article is about 10 years old. Honestly, the range for the easy/long run seems a little low to me. BUT I know I still have a lot to learn about running/fitness, so I’ll just go with it and see what happens.