Soleful Saturday: Do you use your HRM (Heart Rate Monitor) to train?

When I began my fitness journey over 3 years ago, I got a Heart Rate Monitor to help me see how hard I was working or not working and to tell me how many calories I burned working out. At the time, I was using My Fitness Pal so I was excited to put my calories burned into the system so I could see how much more food I could eat-lol!
I sure did love my Polar F4-it did it’s job. It told me my heart rate and the calories burned and so I guess it did it’s job but I often wondered if I used it to its full potential.

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When my fitness goals shifted and I started weight training more, I began to use my heart rate monitor to make sure I was in the right ‘zone’ for fat burn and weight loss.

Does this chart look familiar to any one?

Yes, I used this chart to make sure I was always in the right zone to burn as much fat as possible and I worked to stay in that yellow range most of the time.

Heart Rate Zones:

Fat Burning Zone-Heart Rate: 60-70% of maximum heart rate.

It’s the best heart rate to burn fat because it allows you to work out for long periods of time.

The percentage of calories burned that comes from fat is up to 85%.

Aerobic/Endurance Zone-Heart Rate: 70-80% of maximum heart rate.

This is the heart rate that you should train at to improve your cardiovascular and respiratory system. At this rate you can increase size and strength of your heart.

The percentage of calories burned that comes from fat is around 50%.

High Intensity Zone-Heart Rate: 80-90% of maximum heart rate.

At this rate you can raise your metabolism and burn more fat as a consequence.

Although during exercise this is a rate that burns more calories than the previous ones, only 15% are from fat.

At this rate your body burns all the carbs available.

Maximum Effort Zone-Heart Rate: 90-100% of maximum heart rate.

When you exercise at your maximum heart rate you burn the maximum amount of calories, but even a smaller part are from fat. Consider that at this intensity you can train only for very short periods of time

When I started running, I started to pay more attention to tracking my distance and less to my heart rate. I still wore my heart rate strap, but admittedly, I was not paying much attention to my HR AT ALL.

Fast forward to about 6 months ago and I read an old article from Runner’s World about using your heart rate to run your best race at your best pace. WHAT? Tell me more!!

The article speaks to how no matter what type of runner you are–beginner, intermediate, or advanced–a heart-rate monitor will help you train more effectively.

I totally had forgotten about this article until I started track workouts over the summer and our track lead would say ‘run this 400 at about 85 %’. What? I don’t know what 85% would be? Oh wait…you have a HR monitor Tamieka… you can use that! Ha!
During, track workouts I have been using my HR and my pace to help me to use my efforts most efficiently.

Fast forward again to last week when that Runner’s World article popped back into my head and I was glad to find it (gotta love the internet!). It got me thinking and wanting to do some more research on training with my HRM to train and race.

In reading the article, I found it interesting that the formula that most of us know to determine our MHR (maximum heart rate) by subtracting our age from 220 is not so accurate any more.

The article discusses 2 newer and more accurate formulas:
(A) MHR = 208 – (.7 x your age)

(B) MHR = 205 – (.5 x your age)

The article states that both seem to work almost equally well for runners under 40. For runners over 40, formula (B) appears to be more accurate. They now believe that (B) is the single best formula for predicting maximum heart rate, and that they have adopted it as the Runner’s World standard.

Well there it is! Formula B it is!

In calculating this will have my MHR at 184.5

Another part of the article that was interesting was the workout percent table:

Workout Percent of Maximum Heart Rate (MHR)


Easy run and long run 65-75% (120-138)

Tempo run 87-92% (161-170)

Interval repeats 95-100% (175-185)

Race Distance:

5-K 95-97% (175-179)

10-K 92-94% (170-173)

Half-marathon 85-88% (157-12)

Marathon 80-85% (148-157)

These (numbers) are the numbers that I will be mindful of and keeping in mind as I am training and racing my races this month and next month.  I am interested and excited to see how this will turn out.  I wonder if these number will align with my race pace and finish goals? We will see……I enjoy being a little bit of a guinea pig 🙂

Let the experimentation begin? First attempt hill interval workout in the morning. Let me check those numbers again…..Interval repeats 95-100% (175-185) ok…got it!

Have you ever used a Heart Rate Monitor for running and/or training? 

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7 thoughts on “Soleful Saturday: Do you use your HRM (Heart Rate Monitor) to train?

  1. araekeech says:

    Thanks for the new formula to try! I have been using the karvonen formula, but I have found that it is wildly off on my runs 😦 I know I really need to do a time trial test, but getting to a track and doing one is another story 😛 I will give this one a go. Btw thoughts on HRV? I really want to dive into it for training but haven’t gotten there yet 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • fitballingrunningmom says:

      Learning something new everyday-I haven’t heard of the Karvoven formula…adding that to my research.

      I have treid the HRM training for 2 days now and I find that maintianing the 65%-75% is really hard and has my pace much slower than I cam use to and capable of running. A work in progress for sure.

      HRV? Not sure what that is?


  2. fionajarrett says:

    I do have a HRM but I rarely use it 😦 But you’re totally right and if you’re running in the wrong heart rate zone (for you), you could be completely self-sabotaging your own training and progress. Thanks for the tips!

    Liked by 1 person

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