I’m going to be honest – I love numbers and data and totally geek out over them, especially when it comes to running and fitness – but for some reason for the longest time whenever anyone mentioned heart rate training to me I wanted nothing to do with it. I was happy working based on perceived effort and felt intimidated by the science of heart rate zones – my brain got all muddled up whenever I tried to figure out if I was in the right place or not. Wasn’t it just as effective and also easier for me to just listen to my body? I was improving as a runner without looking at my heart rate, so why bother with it?
Maybe … but probably not.
Something about my attitude bugged me. I was shying away from it because I was intimidated by it, and when I’m scared of something usually my method is to step up to it and give it a try. Maybe I would figure it out and maybe it could in fact become a useful tool for me, another data point to look at as part of my training and as part of my efforts to become a better and stronger runner and coach.
The Armour39 strap is really comfortable, light and easy to put on. I threw it in my gym bag and used it for the first time in a spinning class at my new gym. I just have the strap, not the watch that you can get to go with it, and I admit that at first I was worried about this feature because I thought I would want to have a watch to wear. It turns out I wasn’t bugged by this at all – Under Armour has a great (free) app that I downloaded to my iPhone and it connected right away with my strap.
The app is extremely easy to use, and keeps all the data from every workout right in my profile – telling me how hard I worked, what my heart rate was and how many calroies I burned. I just place my phone in one of the bottle holders on my bike and it stays there safely for the whole class. In spin class I find that I like to keep the app open so I can watch as the numbers change during my workout because we try to hit certain zones at different parts of the class and it’s a good way for me to make sure I’m in the effort level. I actually like not having to wear or remember to bring my watch along with me to the gym. I keep the strap in my bag and pretty much always have my phone with me so it works really well.
With running, I found that I am taking a different approach. I have used the Armour39 for a few different types of treadmill runs (a 16 mile long run, a tempo run, an easy run and an interval workout), and I realized that I don’t actually like seeing the numbers right in front of me during the entire workout for the most part. I love that I can easily I turn my phone’s screen off but the monitor is still working and still reading my heart rate if I ever want to peak and see where it’s at. I also love that no matter how much I have sweat with the strap on, I have not experienced any chafing at all.
|16 miles on the treadmill, watching my heart rate at mile 16!|
|treadmill running with the Armour39 heart rate strap & app|
Last week I had my VO2 max tested and this opened my mind up to a whole new way to use my heart rate as a training tool. This experience is honestly a post in and of itself, and I will make the time to do that because I have a ton of thoughts on it, but what I came out of it with is that I will be wearing my heart rate monitor a lot more this training cycle and paying attention to it. I learned that I can push myself quite a bit more than I actually have been, and looking at my heart rate is in fact a useful way to tell how hard I am working!
The Armour39 is a really nice heart rate monitor and I think especially great for the first-timer like me. It is perfect for taking to the gym and using on the bike or treadmill because you can easily have your phone with you. If you are someone who runs outside with your phone it would also be great for that. There is a watch that you can purchase with the strap also, and I might just be going that route some time soon just to have the option of not having to have my phone with me (I carry my phone for longer runs, but don’t want to be holding my phone for repeats around the track, for example).
Have you ever used a heart rate monitor for your running or workouts? Had your VO2 Max tested? Have you tried the Armour39 yet?