Using a heart rate monitor

Last year I bought a heart rate monitor in order to improve my speed and fitness. I have found it very useful, especially when training for a race and for interval work.
Should anyone wish to borrow mine to see if it helps your training or to try it out before buying one of your own, then simply email me at and I’ll happily bring it along to a running club night or drop it off to you.
I have outlined below how I have used it to improve my times but there are many other uses.

Using a Heart Rate Monitor for Hill Work
There can be little doubt that hill work really does improve your fitness and hence your speed, endurance and race times.
I generally use Page Hill Avenue for my hill work, starting at the bottom opposite Buckingham Athletic FC. It is essential to warm up properly first, for about 10 minutes, as it puts much strain on your muscles and tendons – I run the mile or so there at a steady pace.
Check your heart rate when you reach the start point – once you have your breath back, use this measurement as a guide. Then run hard up the hill as far as you can, when you are really out of breath, stop, check your heart rate and walk slowly back down the hill. Don’t worry about how far you have reached, but aim to get to the same point each time you run up the hill.
By the time you have walked to the bottom, your heart rate should be around 100bpm and you should be breathing fairly normally – if not, wait until you feel comfortable before starting off again.
Repeat this about 5 or 6 times, but don’t overdo it. The whole session, including the 10 minute warm up should take about half an hour (unless you are super fit). And this is what I like about hill work – it hurts, it’s tough but it only lasts 20 minutes! And what’s more, it is generally recommended that you follow it up with a rest day!
What’s not to like?
Furthermore, due to the intense nature of hill training, it is best performed just once a week.

Other uses for the Heart Rate Monitor …
… check your Resting Heart Rate – generally the fitter you are the lower your RHR
… use it on a Steady Run – 65-75% of your maximum heart rate
… use it on a Tempo Run – 80-85% of your maximum heart rate
… the monitor can also be used on some gym treadmills – the chest strap transmits a signal to the running machine itself, so there’s no need for the wrist watch part.
As a rough guide your Maximum Heart Rate is [220 – your age], so a 40 year old should have a MHR of 180, though there are wide variations!

Chris Usher