Heart Rate Training


During the past couple of races I have had trouble with my running pace. I don’t know if I am running too slow or if I am not saving enough energy for the end. After assessing the problem, I thought it may be from my intensity during training. My conclusion was to train harder and faster. However, this did not work. Another round of assessment led me to heart rate training. Heart rate training involves gauging your intensity based off your heart rate. In the past, I did not have a great grasp as to how intense I was working. The heart rate monitor changed my training game.


To monitor my heart rate I use the Polar RS100 model (here is a newer model). I’ve had it for a few years now and it has worked great. It consists of a strap, a monitor and a watch. The strap goes around your chest with the monitor attaching to the front. The watch is where you observe the data.

Being able to see my heart rate has completely changed my training routine. It led me to a website by Hal Higdon (Here is the website). Hal has numerous running training plans for all race distances. I have taken advantage of his knowledge and improved my own training plan. Hal has a specific intensity for the runs in his plans. They are run, tempo, pace and long run. I have summarized my take on them below.


During the run intensity, you want to be able to hold a conversation. My main goal is to recover from a harder workout the day before. With a light intensity I am increasing the blood flow to my sore muscles to assist with recovery. The distance is usually shorter at around 3-5 miles.


In a tempo run you are consistently increasing your intensity until you reach a peak. Maintain the peak and then engage in a cooldown. Hal recommends to reach your peak around two thirds into your run. Through the tempo run I am able to distinguish between my different intensities. From there I will be better at assessing my in race pace to see if I am running too fast or slow. Hal breaks down the tempo runs in time. They last between 30-45 minutes. You can break down by distance if that is easier for you.


The pace run mimics your actual race pace or a greater pace. When I get my heart rate to race level or greater, I am preparing my body to perform at this intensity more efficiently. As time goes on my race pace will increase because my body will acclimate to the higher intensity training.

Long Run

Similar to the run, the long run is a pace where you are able to maintain a conversation. But, the distance is much greater. Here, I want to run a distance closer to or greater than the race distance. The distance ranges for each of Hal’s training plans. However, you can just base them off of the type of Spartan race you are doing. My goal is to get my body to run that far and for that long. Overtime you will be able to increase the pace of the long run, but for sure take it easy at first.


Overall, the heart rate training has completely changed my performance. During training my pace has increased as well as my overall running strength. In the past I would go hard every run no matter what. Now I become more in touch with my body and allow it to rest when it is telling me to do so. I am ecstatic for my next race. I hope that all this pace work will improve my race performance.


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