About 35 years ago, I started using heart rate data as a guide and the heart rate monitor as my companion for all my workouts. I used it to train and qualify for the 1984 USA Olympic Marathon Women’s Trials. Along with 200 of the fastest marathoners in America, I ran the qualifying time of 2 hours and 52 minutes (a 6 minute and 28 second mile average) to be invited to the Olympic Marathon Trials. I didn’t make the top 3 spots for the USA Olympic team but I realized a dream and a goal – the opportunity to run 26.2 miles and to celebrate the first time women were allowed to run the marathon-distance in the Olympic Games.
Before and after the Trials, I used my companion, the heart rate monitor, as I swam, biked and ran my way through numerous Sprint, Olympic, Half-Ironman and Ironman distance triathlons, ultra marathons and adventure races. Heart rate data became my constant companion – you see – I got hooked on training smart for a life fully charged.
This first wearable device, the heart rate monitor, kept me motivated to go harder when I had to do speed work and interval training, and kept me honest when I had to do an easy or recovery workout. Heart rate kept me motivated and accountable. I never did a workout without listening to the beat of my heart, the language of cardiovascular training in BPM, beats per minute. I rose to the top of my game winning races and setting PR (personal records) only when I donned my heart rate monitor. We were inseparable. And to this day, I never ditched the data or the device because I know that data drives decisions, workout decisions.
Fast Forward to Today
Heart rate is key to a life fully charged. After four decades of training to the data of heart rate numbers, I am now using my heart rate “sensor” more than ever before. Heart rate data, for me, has never lost value. I love seeing the technology evolve with this valuable wearable getting better, more comfortable to wear, and with improved data that has deeper meaning for me. Gone are the chest straps that often would stop broadcasting especially in water and were uncomfortable to wear. Today, I am using my digital Blink Armbands securely affixed to my upper arm beaming a signal to my iPhone. The Heart Zones Training app (for individuals) as well as our group training app Heart Zones PE, utilize the training method that I developed and patented, the Threshold Training System™ to combine user friendly hardware with software to create a personalized experience for each of you.
Swimming with the Heart Rate Sensor
Often I am asked how I use the heart rate sensor and the data. Here’s an example of how I now use my heart rate wearable for working out – in this case – swimming:
- I put my receiving devices, both my iPad and iPhone in a plastic bag at the end of the lane which keeps it safe and dry.
- I use the water-friendly Blink Armband affixed to my upper arm to broadcast my heart rate data via Ant+ technology for our group application on the iPad app and to my iPhone via BLE app.
- I use the Heart Zones Bridge, to receive the signal convert it to a WiFi signal and broadcast it to My iPad and my iPhone positioned at the end of my swim lane on a tripod so I can quickly see my colored zones and the numerical value.
- The iPad uses the Heart Zones PE App to get realtime data throughout my swim. It’s large numbers are easy to see and can display swimming heart rate to a large group of swimmers during their workout.
- After the workout, I send a copy of the workout via my email to friends or via Facebook to my followers.
So, even though almost 40 years have passed since I purchased my first chest-strap PolarⓇ heart rate monitor for the price of $450, I am today able to see real time data live on a big display in a way that makes sense: zone color, training load points, time in zones, profile-graph, zone number and more – I am happier than I have ever been before. That’s what I want for you – happiness in health that comes from using data to drive your work out as you listen to your companion share with you your exercise intensity in beats per minute.