Training? Heart Rate Monitor? Or What??
“Or what” is the answer! How many of you guys out there wear a Heart Rate Monitor (HRM)? What do you REALLY get out of it? Don’t get me wrong in a professional environment HR is an important indicator of work and in data collection a lot of important trends can be determined during a training program. For the average, non-professional athlete (of which even though fitness is my business, I am one), there is a far better training aid into which to invest your hard-earned cash.
I am talking of the “speed box” or “foot pod”, the small thumb-sized bit of kit that attaches to your shoe laces and communicates with your watch (more usually a HRM!) So yeah I believe most of the time you will probably be investing in a HRM as well as the speed box/foot-pod but it’s the latter that will make it’s biggest contribution to your training program!
Why? Quite simply the “pod” will allow you to calibrate it for optimal efficiency (usually on a 400 metre track) and from that moment onwards you will have a pretty reliable measure of speed and distance on your training runs. I say pretty reliable because the pod counts how many strides you take over the given distance you calibrate it to and from this number averages out your stride length. Once you activate the pod when training, it immediately starts churning out your running speed in real time whilst squirrelling away time and distance for you to record once you have completed the run.
Clearly the output can be compromised by a few factors. These are predominantly incline/decline and running speed. Running uphill your stride length will decrease and I’m guessing the pod will overestimate your distance and the opposite for running downhill when your stride length increases and the pod underestimates your distance. As the watch is also recording elapsed time, speed in both instances will be off.
Likewise for running speed. If you calibrate over 5 km’s and then do a 2 km timetrial when you will likely be running more quickly and have a longer stride length as a consequence, problems again may occur. Some amateur athletes may not face this problem (professional athletes would not) because their stride length is a constant. That’s why they’re good!
So there are reasons why the pod will not always be that accurate but as a general rule most of us just want to run faster over a given distance. Mucking around with markers and elapsed time is not always easy to track when out there alone but with a speedo attached to your wrist, the game just became a whole lot easier!
I bought a Beurer HRM and Speed Box at the fitness show at Expo late last year for $350, a steal (well actually a show special!!) They usually cost $540!! I have owned Polar and Timex HRM’s in the past and the Beurer smashes them, easily. This is due to the Beurer having a brighter, clearer watch face, being easier to use during a run and being made of sterner stuff than either the other 2. I am quite frankly loving the kit! The most unfortunate thing is the distributor here in Singapore are complete chumps and carry a small range and seem to have over-priced them as well.
When Perks, JR, Knotty and I were training for the Urbanathlon, the Beurer kit came in very handy indeed. JR bought a Polar with footpod and found it just too hard to use and the watch face was ridiculously dark and small. Enter my Beurer! We were doing 2-3 km time trials at 14-15 km/h and it was vital we knew where we were at at all times. We got it from the Beurer!!
If anyone is keen I can enquire to Germany about getting them straight from there, let me know. In the meantime, ramp up your training with a speed-box or foot-pod and really improve your running times!