I haven’t worn a heart rate monitor in over 10 years. Reason being, I haven’t been serious about my running performance for quite awhile. I still like to log my miles but I am no longer concerned about racing my best (or at all). After hearing about the new Garmin Forerunner 630 w/HRM-Run, I momentarily thought it was time start doing some serious training again. But then reality set in and I could not convince myself to get back to suffering through challenging workouts. However, if you are serious about race performance, the Forerunner 630 w/HRM-Run could be a game changer.
There are few things the Forerunner 630 w/HRM-Run does that greatly improves upon the “coaching” ability of a heart rate monitor/GPS watch.
- Improved biomechanical data. The Forerunner 630 w/HRM-Run includes a 2nd generation running dynamics heart rate monitor chest strap/sensor. The sensor is able to collect data about your stride length and stride frequency. This data can be communicated to the watch for real-time feedback or downloaded post-run. This allows you to get your cadence (steps per minute). Coach Jim Hunt has long espoused running with a cadence over 180. Stride length is the distance covered between each step, which isn’t all that interesting by itself, but Garmin does two great things with this information. Vertical oscillation is provided, which indicates how much your center of mass is moving up and down. A higher number is inefficient and suggests you are over-striding. The other cool thing is you can see how your stride length changes while running flat, uphill and downhill.
- Estimated Lactate Threshold. To get your VO2 MAX and Lactate Threshold, a runner used to have to go to a lab and go through a stress test or lactate threshold protocol. While this is still the most accurate way to get VO2 Max and Lactate Threshold values, the Forerunner 630 w/HRM-Run is greatly improved to estimate these values based on your varied training runs and a guided workout. This estimate is head and shoulders above previous estimates and if you have been using 220-age to estimate your max heart rate, you have been playing a guessing game.
- Performance condition. The Forerunner 630 w/HRM-Run can evaluate whether you are on target for a good day or a bad day. That is, it can let you if your perceived effort will be high or low. When your perceived effort is low, hitting your target times will be a breeze. When your perceived effort is high, you will need to really focus and push yourself mentally to meet your times.
- Stress score. This is probably the most exciting tool. The Forerunner 630 w/HRM-Run can estimate the stress your body is experiencing during a standing 3 minute test. If the stress score is high, it’s time to back off. Change your schedule. Put in a few more easy runs. Skip today’s interval workout. Having this information may help prevent over-training and associated injuries.
In the following four videos, Garmin Forerunner Product Manager Joe Heikes explains how the above features work.
Estimating Lactate Threshold:
Analyzing Performance Condition:
Determining Stress Score: