Running with a heart rate monitor - Chi Running

Running with a heart rate monitor

Posted by Danny Dreyer on Thu Jul 9th, 2009, 19 comments

Well, I finally did it. After 38 years of running I finally bought myself a heart rate monitor. Why now? After that many years of running you’d think by now I would be able to Body Sense everything I needed to know to run injury-free and run long distances without burning myself out. The truth is, I can do that.  But what I’m currently in the midst of is developing specific training programs for beginner, intermediate and advanced runners for everything from a 5k to a marathon…and beyond.

The key to training and conditioning oneself properly for long distance running and walking (and the most sane way), is aerobic training which was used quite effectively by Arthur Lydiard, one of the best running coaches ever. Training in your “aerobic zone” means that you do the vast majority of your workouts at a pace where you’re not gasping for breath or feeling like your heart is trying to jump out of your chest. So, if I’m going to be giving advice I need to make sure it’s good, accurate advice and not just theory.

There have been volumes of books written about how to train for all of the distances I mentioned, but what is needed today more than ever is a system that helps runners and walkers to realize their fitness goals in the safest and most energy-efficient way. To me that means not just putting out another training manual that tells you how many minutes or miles to run during each workout. That’s easy. But if you’re training for a 10k race, you’ll get a lot more bang for your training buck if you add great running technique onto all of that great conditioning. My goal is to offer training programs for running and walking that not only help you too increase your conditioning level by training within your aerobic zone, but actually help you to master your technique at the same time. As long as you’re going to be out there, why not kill two birds with one stone?

So, to make a long story (what could be an entire book, in fact) short, I bought a heart rate monitor so I can measure the effect that any of the ChiRunning form focuses might have on my performance and efficiency…measured in heartbeats per minute. For me it’s a biofeedback tool for measuring whether or not my efficiency is effected by making slight adjustments in how I run or walk. I’ll let you know how it goes.

My first use of the heart rate monitor was to measure my resting heart rate as soon as I opened my eyes… it was 41. I’m going out for a hilly trail run this morning, so we’ll see if I can get this thing to help me run hills more easily.

See ya later,



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  • 10k race training,
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  • resting heart rate

19 CommentsLeave a comment below

Aleks Totic Jul 9th, 2009 07:05am

41, that is a good heart rate. What monitor did you get?

I got the cheapest Polar I could find. It was a basic model (the F-6) with hardly any bells and whistles. $109 I chose Polar because they’ve been making great heart rate monitors longer than any company out there.

Yeah.. I have trained with a HR monitor for years.  Now I can use maybe use Danny’s new info to train with instead always converting minutes per mile to heartrate zones.  Thats exciting!

Have fun with the new toy! I’ve used HRMs since they were invented, and I find them as useful for racing than for training. I know from many training runs that I can do a marathon at a HR no greater than 142, or I bonk. I start out keeping the HR in the high 130s, which keeps me from going out too fast, and I allow for a rising HR in the later stages of the race when blood thickens with dehydration and muscles stiffen up. If you’re advising beginning marathoners, they can benefit a lot from using their training records to plan race strategies.

Mary Lindahl Jul 20th, 2009 06:02am

Hi Danny.  OK - I’m going to get one too.  I’ve been thinking about it since reading your article on optimal heart rate being 180 - age.  I checked mine while running that day and realized I’ve been running at way too high of a heart rate.  For the last week, I’ve been checking my pulse and aiming for a heart rate of 127 (180-age + 5.)  I find I’m still usually quite high and I’m wondering if there is an altitude adjustment for the formula?  Can I add a few more points because I just moved to Denver and am now running at 5000+ feet?

Hi Mary,
Yes, since there is much less O2 in Denver, I suggest you adjust the numbers up a bit. every body is different in their aerobic capacity and conditioning level, so I can’t give you an exact formula. I would say to go by Body Sensing and perceived level of exertion.

An additional note in terms of staying within a given aerobic heart rate during your longer training runs, is that it is important to see your heart rate as showing you two different things…your level of fatigue and your level of inefficiency relative to your biomechanics. What I always urge runners to do is to use their heart rate monitor as a biofeedback tool to tell them when they’re running efficiently and when they’re not. Use the measured increase in your heart rate to clue you into the fact that you might be able to lower the reading if you change something about how you’re running. It could be anything from purely a technique issue to holding tension somewhere in your body that is making some other part of your body have to work harder to overcome the tension, tightness, lack of range of motion, etc. When I make adjustments in my form, I find many times that my elevated heart rate was being artificially created by how I was running and not because of fatigue.

All the best,

Danny, I’ve been running almost as long as you have (30 years for me), and I’ve used a HRM for a long time.  I don’t use it every day, but I usually put it on for faster runs.  I’ve also used it to measure effot levels with some of the Chi Running focuses, particularly cadence.  It’s useful for providing objective feedback as to effort at different cadences.

I just purchased a heart rate monitor. I’m going to combine my awesome results from Chi running with the 180 formula from Phil Maffetone. At 45 I’m running better than ever - Thanks!!!


I have recently been training using a heart rate monitor.  Based on Phil Maffetone’s method, my aerobic heart rate is 131.  I try to stay within a range of 121-131.  I am training for the Columbus Marathon on October 18 so I am trying to build up my aerobic base.  I have felt great after long runs of over 20 miles trying to stay at or below a heart rate of 131.  But I must admit this has also been frustrating for me because I am barely above a walk in first gear and my heart rate is already near 131.  I often have to walk to get my rate down.  My Perceived Rate of Exertion (PRE) doesn’t change (nice and easy) and yet my heart rate seems to jump very quickly.  It has been a real struggle for me to run so slow to keep my rate at 131.  I like your comment that sometimes our heart rate can be artificially created by factors other than fatigue.  So, I don’t think fatigue is my issue.  I am still experimenting to discover what I might be doing to cause my heart rate to move up when I am going really slow.  Plus, I am learning to forget my pride in the process and not worry about my speed right now.  Any advice is appreciated.



Hi Danny, I am a 50 year old male in relatively good condition. I had compartment syndrome in my left leg for years not really knowing that a simple surgery could correct it, henceforth keeping me from walking long distances or running at all. I have done most of my cardio on the elliptcal cross trainer. I have started walking and running but what i have noticed is when i start running my heart rate jumps up to my maximum pretty quickly. This is pretty frustrating. Do i throw my heart rate monitor away and just go for it or just stay with walking to get my body acclimated to this type of training.

Don’t throw away your heartrate monitor, but instead, use it as a bio-feedback tool to tell you when you’re running inefficiently. Whenever you go out for a run, always start off very slowly and gradually build up to your eventual ambient pace. Then, turn on your HR monitor and see if you can lower your heart rate by using one or more of the ChiRunning Focuses found in the ChiRunning Book… without changing your speed! It’s great technique training practice.

banque et credit Sep 18th, 2009 04:09am

Interesting and informative post, thanks for share!

Bill Saunders Sep 29th, 2009 07:47am

I was wondering if you have an update on how using a heart rate monitor is going.  Also, what method are you using to calculate your target heart rate zone?

I’ve been using the heart rate monitor mainly as a biofeedback tool to help me get more efficient with my technique. I’ll go out for a run and once I’m warmed up, I take a reading on my HR monitor and see if there’s anything I can do to lower my heartrate without slowing down my speed. I also use it when I’m running uphill to see if I can run up without increasing my heart rate. It forces me to shorten my stride and relax my legs in order to keep my heart rate constant.

kathyrivera Oct 5th, 2009 12:17am

How is Danny’s heart rate training going ?

Trackback - Free Internation Call >> How to Nov 19th, 2009 12:59pm

,..] is another relavant source of information on this topic,..]

I particularly like hybrid or combo heart rate monitors that you can use with or without a chest strap

Jackson Hill May 1st, 2010 07:57am

i’ve been doing Cardio workouts for about 3 years and it really helps in making me fit and healthy.~-:

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