Why Train With Heart Rate?

Why Train With Heart Rate?

Fall and Spring are my favourite times of the year as they usually bring about different running events which take me back to my grass roots as an athlete.  Prior to becoming a triathlete I focused on long distance running.  Being one of those who experiences a runner’s high, I “revved on high” most of the time because it felt so good to always run fast!  However come race day, I experienced less than optimal performance for someone of my fitness level showing up at the start line tired and dreading the event.  

This became a frustrating and vicious circle where I trained harder and simply became more fatigued.   I beganlooking  for a more effective way to train and  I started to work with a coach who recommended I train by heart rate zones.  Science is wonderful and I have to say it has painted a different landscape in my training and performance.   My performance has soared to where I am now competing at an elite level, qualifying for World Championship events at different distances in the sport of Triathlon.  My hope is to help prevent some of you from making these same mistakes and reaching your potential in a safe way.

Training by heart rate is been beneficial for several reasons:

1.      It optimizes your training time - Instead of just training to put in the miles (some of you may relate), your training has a purpose and objective behind each workout.

2.     It’s specific – Instead of using guesswork, your training is broken down into specific heart rate zones which result in different physiological benefits. 

3.     It’s customized – Obtaining a heart rate test is specific to your body and to you as an athlete.  There are generalized formula’s that can give you an idea of what your heart rate should be at a certain age and gender, however these do not factor in your current fitness level.

4.     Injury prevention – By monitoring which heart rate zones you train in you can control the intensity level of your training.  A higher level of intensity typically introduces a higher risk for injuries.  If you don’t know where your intensity levels are, it is uncertain how much time you are really spending there.

5.     Improves efficiency – Your body adapts to the demands you are placing on it.  If you continuously run with a high heart rate, your body will not have the opportunity to become efficient at a lower heart rate.  Every time you run, your heart rate will jump to a high level and you will become fatigued faster and burn more carbohydrates.  To get faster, you have to spend time in your lower heart rate zone.

After reading this article hopefully you are asking yourself “Why am I NOT training with heart rate?”  Knowing your heart rate zones will not only improve your fitness level, but will also help keep you injury free.