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Choosing the right balance between the frequency, duration and intensity of your running training will determine the level of improvement in your performance.
While frequency and duration are easy to monitor, measuring the intensity of your runs is more difficult. The most accurate way to measure your intensity while running is by measuring your heart rate, or preferably, using a heart rate monitor (taking your pulse manually is much more difficult). You need to determine your maximum heart rate to measure exercise intensity, which is calculated by subtracting your age from 220. The table below can help to calculate the ideal heart rate training zone based on your age.
Maximum heart rate
Training zone - 65% - 85%
130 – 170
127 – 166
124 – 162
120 – 157
117 – 153
114 – 149
111 – 145
107 – 140
104 – 136
101 – 132
Heart rate monitors allow you to continuously check exercise intensity (heart rate), and ensure you are reaching the goal of a particular workout. They can add a little science and precision to your running routine, and fortunately, this great training tool is now relatively cheap to buy.
There are many different types of heart rate monitors on the market, yet most have an audible alarm to indicate if you have strayed outside the appropriate training zone. Some even have a downloadable record of your workout so you can monitor changes over time.
You can also vary your workouts by training at different levels or percentages of your maximum heart rate. If you are a beginner, run at the lower end (65%) of your maximum heart rate. This level is also ideal for longer, steady paced runs. Working between 65-85 percent of your maximum heart rate is where endurance and aerobic power are developed. As your fitness improves, or on days when you want to increase the intensity of your training, run at the higher end (85%) of the training zone. Days when you perform interval training may also involve short bursts above the 85% level, however, this should only be performed by advanced runners.
Do you have a heart rate monitor? Do you use heart rate training to improve your running performance?
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