The success of a heart rate monitor in training depends on what you seek from the tool. All the gadget itself can do is display and record how fast your heart beats. It does not choose what to do with the information, and cannot decide how you feel in certain circumstances. The key to re-purposing this truly invaluable tool is focus.
Heart rate charts are a basic reference guide. The numbers and zones represent an average of a series of statistics compiled by a committee and approved by another committee. None of whom have ever met YOU. Keep in mind that the point of wearing a monitor is to understand your unique body, in motion and at rest, on any given day; and to then use that information to make decisions.
For example, once I let go of the narrow idea that the heart rate monitor was just for making sure my heart was beating at the “correct” rate for the “proper” amount of time, I was able to use it to help me identify and find answers for a variety of common training issues such as:
• What constituted over training? How was it happening, and to what extent?
• What foods over tax digestion and hence, recovery?
• The role thoughts and emotions play in creating fatigue or recovering from it. Fear based (negative) thoughts and emotions (anger, excitement, frustration etc.) can speed up the heart and deplete the body. Love based (positive) emotions such as calmness, joy, enthusiasm, confidence, laughter, etc. settle the body and rejuvenate it.
• How do certain levels of exertion feel & how quickly can the body regroup from a given level of work?
• The accuracy of “perceived” exertion compared to the actual reality on any given day.
In other words, when the mind is focused on the process of learning about the body, and backed up with a clear purpose that underlies that choice, knowing your heart rate becomes a tool to build the bridge between your mind and your body, rather than a check on chart. The results of this personal curiosity and creativity will speak for themselves.
The monitor has been an invaluable reference. I’ve worn out a lot of batteries and saved myself a lot of problems down the road. What do I mean by choose your own target? It’s not really about your heart rate. It’s about your heart. Choose what has meaning for you.