Unless you’re lucky enough to be a study specimen in a sports science institute, heart rate training is not an exact science. First of all, the common way to calculate your maximum heart rate is 220 – age – not at all accurate. There are more ways to calculate the zones than I can count on one hand.
I like to use Digifit for the calculations, but the problem is calculating one’s maximum heart rate. You also need resting heart rate but that’s relatively easy – so many apps for smartphones etc out there. I downloaded Azumio’s Instant Heart Rate onto my Samsung and can now lie in bed in the morning and measure my resting heart rate without having to strap on a heart rate monitor – very handy. One shouldn’t drink coffee first – it apparently raises the heart rate but I refuse to do ANYTHING before coffee so if my heart rate is slightly inaccurate so be it!
Not so easy for maximum heart rate. There are various tests one can do and various ways of making an estimate and after mulling over the problem plus reading extensively I have now set my max at 180 and my resting heart rate at 60. My Zone 2 using the Digifit calculator according to the Karvonen formula is now 9 beats higher than I thought it was. Training at Zone 2 pace is now way more satisfying. Previously I had the zones set too low( I think). Even jogging very, very slowly it was hard to keep my heart rate in Zone 2 – so it was a matter of very brief run/walk intervals, and when I downloaded my Garmin stats, the heart rate graph was terribly jagged. Now my graph is way smoother and I feel like a real runner again! I’m still definitely working in the aerobic, endurance-building range – my breathing is relaxed and I am never really tired after a workout.
I’m led to believe that Joe Friel is the daddy of all heart rate training so I definitely need to go and read his blog. In fact I’ve just ordered one of his books “Total Heart Rate Training” and can’t wait for it to arrive. Next week I’m going to try a test of his to check my max heart rate using my treadmill – I’ll report back!
I’ve also been practicing my new race-walking skills, but more of that another day!