All this week we’ve been talking about heart rate training, from the basic target zones to calculating your target heart rate. We tried to keep things at an introductory level of detail, but hopefully we’ve given you enough to start thinking about how monitoring your heart rate can play a role in your training as a runner and athlete.
Today we’re going to tie it together with a few types of workouts you can use to do just that.
Fat burn. One of the most practical uses of heart rate monitoring is setting the pace for long, steady-state, fat-burning workouts. By pounding away in that Endurance Zone of 60 – 70% of your max heart rate, you’ll keep your body in prime fat-burning territory and minimize soreness and fatigue. Spend some miles here each week if one of your goals is to lose weight.
Low-intensity intervals. If you’ve completed any of our Bluefin programs, you’re familiar with the interval training approach of a certain number of minutes on followed by a certain number of minutes off. Typically in our case this plays out as walk/run intervals. You can do the same thing with your heart rate, running hard in the Aerobic or Anaerobic Zone and then dialing back into the Endurance Zone.
High-intensity intervals. These are just like the low-intensity intervals above, but instead alternating between (for example) the Aerobic Zone on the low end and Anaerobic or even Max on the high end. Basically instead of walk/run or jog/run, you’re pretty much running hard/harder. This isn’t something that you necessarily need a heart rate monitor to do, but you’ll be amazed at how effectively it can keep you honest in evaluating how hard you’re working.
Occasional reality check. One more thing you can do with your heart rate monitoring is start to develop a heart health baseline by regularly repeating a simple, straightforward workout and tracking how hard your heart is working to complete it. For example, if once a week you’re doing a thirty-minute steady state run, track your average heart rate for that workout and see how it improves over time. If it doesn’t seem to be getting better, focusing on your heart through the kinds of workouts described above can help you begin to make progress.