After spending a pretty penny on getting the best in class running watch, are you really using it to its full potential, asks Nandini Reddy
GPS enabled running or fitness watches are a rage now. Runners have said that they have become better runners after they have started using the latest wearable technology. But after paying the big bucks, do we really use them to their full potential? The truth is that most of us don’t. If you use it right, you have a digital running coach right on your wrist and a quick reference to all the statistics you need to reach your goals.
So here are a few ways in which you can maximize the potential of your running watch.
Know your beats per minute
When you first get your watch. Wear it and lie down and relax. You need to record your resting heart rate. Repeat this process for a week, every alternate day so that you have a good average rate as reference. If you are recording 10 beats higher than your resting average beats per minutes on any given day, after your workout then you are over training and its time to slow down. You need to check you resting heart rate every three months to check if there are any changes in your average. Erratic resting heart rate could indicate deeper problems that might need your physicians advice before continuing on a course of exercise.
Mark your MHR
Most training apps will recommend a specific heart rate zone in which you need to train. But before you get there find your maximum heart rate (MHR). Clock in your maximum heart rate and your watch will automatically find your zones for you. It will mark you up for endurance training, recovery training, aerobic training, etc based on your MHR. For example, your endurance training will be about 65-75% of your MHR and your aerobic training will be 90 – 95% of your MHR. Remember that before you find your MHR, you need to warm up and run up an incline for at least 2 mins. Then you need to run at your maximum speed on a decline. This gives your watch enough information to plan your zones.
Find your zone
You need to use the watch for the purpose you want to achieve with your running. Once you decide whether you want to burn fat, build endurance or work on your anaerobic threshold; you can find the right heart rate training zone. This will help you match up your training sessions accordingly. Once you have picked your zone, set a beeping alert to indicate to you if you are over training.
Record your training
Most of the running apps data can be further used in other apps to get a better idea of how your training in panning out. Find one which can maintain a diary of your activities and important statistics such as resting heart rate, the days workout, MHR, calories burnt and time spent, among others. This will help you change and improve your training plans as you progress. These records will prove useful when you need to share them with a coach or coordinate with a running partner.
Use the Interval Training feature
Use your watch’s interval training feature to build pace and endurance. This will help if you are training alone. Combine high pace with elevated heart rate training and mix up time duration as you go along. You can also check if your watch allows you to create a bespoke interval training plan.
Watch your steps
Did you know that your watch measures the frequency in which your feet strike the ground? It does that because its a way to measure how efficiently you are running. This is measured as metric known as Strike per Minute (SPM). So if you were Mo Farah you would have an SPM upwards of 180 but if you are like everyone else you would be lower than 150. A good runner will always find a good SPM and will stick to it if he hopes to get maximum performance out of his runs.
Benchmark your performance
Run your route, mark your time and catalogue it. A month later run the same route and compare. Benchmark against yourself and you will see how you are performing. Over a period of time you pace will get better and your SPM will improve as well.
BPM is not the only thing you need to watch on your running watch. Use it the right way and it will become your best buddy.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
An irregular runner who has run in dry, wet, high altitude and humid conditions. Loves to write a little more than run so now is the managing editor of Finisher Magazine.