I read a lot of different books about training to run further, faster, and if possible easier. One of the types of training you can do is called heart rate training. If you run on a treadmill at the gym ever, you have probably seen that heart rate thing on the screen. Basically the idea is you train at a percentage of what your maximum heart rate should be. I’m guessing anything above that means you will die if you keep going that hard. I usually feel like I am going to die anyways…

Another main type of measuring how hard you are working is perceived effort. This is that thing where people suggest an easy run is about where you can speak with a running partner. Ha! So if you can run and talk and that is easy, I guess you are a runner that is not running fast enough. There is a scale that goes up to feel like you are going to die.

There are pluses and minuses for both of these methods. First, if you are going off of perception, it is inherently flawed. I always feel like I am running hard. I am definitely breathing hard, and I am sweating, a lot. I run alone mostly so the conversational part makes me feel like a crazy person trying to see if I can carry on a conversation with my imaginary running buddy. Also, running is harder when you are fat. I get out of breath climbing a couple flights of stairs even after I have completed a marathon… Pluses are easy, you just guess and try to adjust based on how you feel. In some ways this is ideal, listen to your body and do what it says. Realistically, my body just says slow down or go eat something already.

The heart rate monitor option is easier if you ask me. I use the Timex that I got from costco. You figure out what heart rate you are supposed to run at, then you compare that to what your display says.  No worrying about are you really breathing too hard to chat, or are you not able to speak at all. It takes the emotion out of measuring your effort.  Had a bad day, I bet the run feels much harder than if you are having a great day.  Problems come up when a battery dies.  I’ve had days where I couldn’t get the heart rate strap to pair with the watch display. I think the biggest con for me has been the chaffing. I am fat, I sweat a lot. The strap seems to pinch a little fat between the bottom of my sports bra and proceed to try to scratch that part of my stomach/chest off.  Get in the shower after a run and scream as the road rash feeling burns like hell.

There is a second option that uses optical heart rate monitoring without a strap.  I’m debating on getting the Garmin 235 running heart rate monitor.

My back up has always been the mapmyrun app that tells me my speed/time/distance based on GPS.  This at least tells me how I’m doing compared to the usual training program that I am following.

I typically don’t invest in expensive equipment because I am broke, ha ha.  I took a leap and signed up for this new kickstarter that promises to combine a few of the things that I have with the things that I want.  KUAI multisport headphones that combine all of the fancy training gadgets into a pair of wireless headphones. I found them on kickstarter and decided since I did a triathlon this year, I would invest in training to get better.  I like that you don’t need a chest strap (goodbye chaffing) and that it tracks everything you could possibly want to know V02 max(no idea), cadence, distance, pace and speed.  So basically, as technical as you want to measure your run/bike/swim it should work. Also, its waterproof! You can swim with these.  8gb of memory so you can have music and there will even be the option to add coaches or training plans.  Yes this is an affiliate link, but I already bought one and think it will be the biggest thing to hit heart rate training ever. So check it out.