Many runners keep a close eye on their heart rate during exercise. So many, in fact, that we carry a wide selection of heart rate monitors. But like any piece of data, the number is useless unless you know what it means.
Jack Daniels, Ph.D, has a great blog post over at blog.saucony.com on the subject of Understanding Heart Rates. And he should know, having coached 30 NCAA National Champions, 130 All-Americans, and 5 Olympians over his storied 30 year career.
In his post, Dr. Daniels discusses the limited value of comparing your resting or max heart rate with other runners. He also cautions on the value of determining your appropriate maximum heart-rate value only by using a formula that is related to your age. His best advice? Keep a log book of your heart-rate values associated with rest and with each of your weekly runs, including pace, weather conditions, and other pertinent data. As he writes, “When later in the year you see lower heart rates for rest or for the same intensity of exercise, you know your heart is getting stronger and you are getting fitter.” Amen to that.