Friday, March 28, 2008

Why I "heart" my heart rate monitor

I promised Shauna weeks ago that I’d write this post, and then I was busy and then …still busy, and now….. WILL YOU LOOK AT THAT ….Easter’s been and gone, and I STILL didn’t do it. *hangs head* The poor lassie’s been waiting patiently, and finally in desperation, has asked her readers for input.

So-o-o-o DG, this is for you, Babe! Here’s what I love about my HRM:

- It tells me when I’m totally kicking arse in my workout. It also tells me when I’m being a complete wuss. You know how sometimes you can lie to yourself that hey, I AM working hard, when really you’re looking around wondering where did that girl on the elliptical get that gorgeous halter top, and what IS that show on the TV up there with no sound where Japanese people are throwing custard at each other, and hmm, what am I going to have for lunch? If you’re doing intervals wearing your HRM, the only thing you’ll be wondering is whether it’s actually possible to die when your heart rate hits 209.

- It gives me neat little stats at the end of my workout. Like my average HR and maximum HR. If you’re the sort of psycho who gets competitive with yourself (unlike me *ahem*), you can record that stuff in your training diary and try to beat it next time you do the same workout.

- I can track my maximum HR and also my resting HR over time. Those are great (especially the RHR), as evidence of improved fitness over time. Very useful when you’re not focusing on weight-loss related goals….. Get fitter and your RHR drops. Yay!

- Same goes for tracking training performance. Let’s say you’ve been at it for a while and you’re getting pretty fit. You run for a set time on a treadmill and over 3 months or so you find that you can go further in the same amount of time. If you’re checking your HRM data every few months, you’ll also find that your max HR is dropping. More speed, less effort for your heart. Cool. Again with the non-weight loss related goals.

- IF you actually remember to wear it, at the end of each week, you’ll get a complete record of your workouts – how many, how long and your HR stats. Of course, you could do that with a pen and paper, but where’s the shiny in that?

- Some HRMs allow you to upload data onto your computer and….um…do stuff with it. If you like that kind of thing, it might decide which brand and model you buy.

Mine’s a Polar F11, bye the bye – it has all the features I need, plus some I haven’t a clue about how to use, and it was under $200.

A few bonus extras:

The Polar HRMs are compatible with a wide range of brands of cardio equipment. So as long as you have your chest strap transmitter on, you’ll get a readout on the screen of the treadmill/elliptical/bike. No need to try to read the wristwatch display while moving fast. Or while not wearing your glasses. Gah! Can't they make those things BIGGER?

Some el-cheapo HRMs come with a rigid plastic chest strap – the back section is elastic, but the front part gets mighty uncomfortable, especially when you work up a sweat. Polar make a nice soft strap – check that the model you’re buying comes with the ‘good’ kind of strap, or forever suffer chafing and rashes.

Most brands of HRMs come with a choice of pretty coloured wrist watches. Me, I wanted one NOW, so I took the plain grey (men’s) one that the shop had in stock. But if that stuff matters to you, you can shop around for something that matches your outfit. :o)

Whatever you buy, don't get one of those "no chest strap required" jobbies. They're crap.

One more thing.... if you're a bit of a beginner to exercise, you probably don't need one. It's just another detail to obsess over, and God knows, you already have a heap of new stuff whirling around in your head. Why add more? Of course, if you're a serious gadget-nerd, then nothing is going to stop you buying one - and it's probably going to be a handy addition to your collection of shiny stuff.


Shauna said...

AHH that was bloody brilliant Kek! And I'd tooootally forgotten that you said you were going to do a post, I know you're a busy lass so I hope you didn't think I was publically nagging you! I just saw these buff vixens at the gym and I've been thinking about it ever since! You are very persuasive! :)

Kek said...

Ha! Of course I didn't think're far too nice to do such a thing. You'd have emailed me and nagged PRIVATELY. :o)

But I did get the guilts, cos you know how it is - you say you'll do something, but you keep not getting around to it, and even if it's something compeltely trivial, it plays on your mind until your head explodes. Which is bad, because: messy.

Anonymous said...

Great post. I luvvv my HRM and would be lost without it.

sparklingmerlot said...

I was given a fancy Polar HRM with a shoe thingy for Christmas ... to celebrate the fact that I was now a runner (long story short - very fat and very unfit started to exercise lost weight but need to lose more). I used the actual HRM a couple of times and then got really bad plantar fasciitis and my wheels fell off. Regained a kilo or three and a half and have just about got back to being able to move again.

I love the idea of the whole gadget but feel like a real fraud.

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