Coach Mike Mead


Running with Heart

Whether you are new to running or have been doing it for many years, you can take a lot of the guess work out of your training by taking to heart a little technology.  The most popular technology gadget that runners have adopted the past few years has been the GPS watch which measures distance more accurately.  But to accurately measure your effort, the wiser investment is a heart rate monitor.

Over the years, I have met runners who either trained without a coach or had a coach with extremely limited knowledge.  If you find yourself in a similar situation, or just want to be more effective in your training, then it is time to use a heart rate monitor.

Running by how one “feels” is not the most effective or productive method to make progress.  Why not take the guess work out of your training by using a heart rate monitor.

I must profess that I have never used one myself -- yet.  But it is not too late to teach an old dog a new trick or two!  During the past three years, we have been training several of our distance guys at Clayton State on heart rate monitors to positive results.

Last year as a team we experienced a significant reduction in injuries and no overtraining issues.  This meant our guys spent more time training than rehabbing or resting.  The majority of our guys hit personal-bests by the time track season concluded.  It works!

The big advantage using a heart rate monitor in a team setting is that it provides more individualized training.  Each workout is at a specific target range for each runner once their individual maximum heart rate (MHR) is determined.

The first coach I became aware of who trained athletes under his guidance with a heart rate monitor was Roy Benson.  He has coached countless runners of all ages and abilities in the Atlanta area.  I consider him the father of heart rate monitor coaching.

I will not use this space trying to explain how one goes about determining the various training ranges since I am still learning myself.  You will find plenty of information on-line via the internet about the type of monitor to purchase and how to get started.

The biggest adjustment my guys had to make was running within the range for the specific workout, especially the recovery runs.  “Coach, that was too easy!” By following the recommended training MHR ranges, it prevents runners from over-training.  Many times they felt like they were being held back and not making progress.

As I have stated in this space a few times before, a distance runner needs to be patient in their development.  One who faithfully sticks to the training plan will be rewarded when it comes time for competition.

What the heart rate monitor does not measure is the “heart” of the runner.  That is, the grit or competitiveness in a runner.  That measure of “heart” still requires life experiences (training), inherited instincts, and determination to shape each person in the competitive runner they can be, if they try.

And try you must!  Take heart in your running.  Train with a heart rate monitor and monitor your success.