Using a Heart Rate Monitor to Train

Posted by Craig Trinkley


Training with a heart rate monitor will help you train at the proper intensity. Knowing your heart rate will also help you better choose the mix of speed or the interval of your workouts. As well as the correct tempo you should be running at. First, you will need to find out what your maximum heart rate is.

There are three different ways to calculate maximum heart rate (MHR):

  • To calculate your MHR, the most basic formula is: subtract your age from 220. Your answer will be the beats per a minute. For example 220 -26 (years old)= 194 beats per a minute.
  • Or you can use a more accurate formula developed by Runners’s World : For runners <40 MHR= 208-.7x your age and for runners >40 MHR= 205- .5x your age).
    • An example- If your age is 25 you will multiply 25 x.7 which is 17.5. Minus 17.5 from 208 to get 190.5 beats per a minute.

However, the most accurate indication of your MHR is a field test. You will want to wear a heart monitor for the field test.

  • First, make sure you are properly hydrated.
  • Do a proper warm up run.
  • Then choose a reasonably steep hill and run hard for 2-3 minutes.
  • Repeat this two more times pushing yourself harder each time.

On the last rep, push yourself as hard as possible and check your heart rate. The number you see will be a good indicator of what your maximum heart rate should be.

Once you know what your MHR is you will be able to track your improvement throughout your training by figuring out your target heart rate. Acquainted workouts and their target rate zones are:

  • Recovery, long or easy runs- 65%-75%
  • Tempo runs- 87%-92%
  • Interval repeats- 95%-100%
  • These are percentages of your Maximum Heart Rate (MHR)

And as you improve, your heart rate will lower when running which will eventually lead to a faster training pace. Using a heart rate monitor is beneficial to your training and can help make improvements. The trick is to find the monitor that’s right for you.

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