Four easy miles- heart rate running

Today I gave heart rate running another go. Here’s what I discovered:

  • Heart rate running is hugely frustrating if you’re not used to it.
  • The more I got frustrated the more I found it hard to keep my heart rate low.
  • I’m not sure that my watch is particularly accurate.

Heart rate running is hugely frustrating if you’re not used to it.

I’m finding heart rate running, or more to the point keeping my heart rate low whilst running, hugely frustrating. I’m constantly clock watching and at the moment trying to run to a lower heart rate is really difficult. It doesn’t feel natural and my pace is over 2 minutes a miles slower than my general pace. Today’s run was supposed to be at an easy pace but I’ve always considered that to be may be a minute to 90 seconds slower than my normal pace rather than two minutes. It may be that I need to re-adjust my views on what an easy pace is as maybe it’s me that’s out of sync on this one. Particularly as ultra running is so different to road running.

I’m conscious that when my heart rate started to rise I started walking and it felt really disruptive.

By trying to run to my heart rate my cadence is also much slower, in addition to walking. My cadence normally sits in the mid 160 steps per minute. Lower than the average and below the 180 steps per minutes, which Garmin says is the off-cited target for steps per minute. Today my cadence sat at 157 much lower than my average. It felt a bit awkward. I need to keep an eye on this if I continue to run to my heart rate as it could mean I’m changing my running style. Interestingly my cadence increased to closer to my normal range towards the end of the run.

The more I got frustrated the more I found it hard to keep my heart rate low

This is kind of obvious but the more I was getting wound up that my heart rate wasn’t as low as I thought it should be the harder it was to keep it low.

At one point I decided I’d stop looking at my watch and my heart rate and just concentrate on running. The first time I did this my heart rate went up to the ‘red zone’. After I’d walked to bring it down it didn’t raise again. It might be that my body isn’t warmed up enough which is why for the first couple of miles my heart rate kept raising until I walked. I did do a bit of a warm up but may be not enough. Also where it did settle it was either flat or downhill which must have helped.

I’m not sure that my watch is particularly accurate.

This isn’t me just having a huff because I’m finding heart rate running frustrating but more based on reading lots of articles recently which have indicated the same thing.

It’s also coupled with the fact that when I started walking my heart rate would drop really quickly. What looked like too quickly to be natural and I certainly didn’t notice it physically. When I started looking I realised that when I walk my arm goes from being bent at the elbow to straight down by my side and I think that change in position may have something to do with the sudden drop.

So the big question…

Do I stick with actively using my heart rate as a marker for my runs or do I just try to go at an easy pace but not focus on where my heart rate is sitting?

I’m not sure. I have an easy 5 miles tomorrow and I’m actively going to try to run at a slower pace. I might keep half an eye on my heart rate and see what happens then I’ll be making a slightly more informed decision about whether I feel it’s the right thing to do. Of course I might run easy tomorrow and my heart rate sits lower naturally as I’ve slowed down my pace.

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