Get More from Trail Running: Use a Heart Rate Monitor with GPS

Using a heart rate monitor with timing features enhances your training experience by giving you the ability to easily record your progress and adjust each training session. It will also beep at you when you are inside or outside of your targets. This is my video game that keeps me motivated while I’m outside trail running.
After only one week of using the Garmin Forerunner 305 with the heart rate monitor, I am figuring out how to analyze each trail run and training session. I use my knowledge of my current physiological conditioning to set-up training runs with specific goals, and then analyze my progress. I finish by planning the next training session. Today I achieved a seasonal best of 41:46 min on the Grouse Grind, 28 days earlier than the same time in 2009.
Garmin Connect and Garmin Training software enable me to compare and analyze different training days or training events. The best thing is that with a little thought, I can easily adjust my training to prevent over doing it.
Detecting Over-training: One method of detecting over-training is by recording your resting heart rate (RHR). Your RHR is taken with a minimum of 5 minutes of inactivity in a quiet place, preferably lying down. After 5 minutes of recording my RHR, I used the built-in software to scroll to the lowest heart rate. Today it is 49 bpm, previously it was 53 bpm. If you find your RHR going up, take a couple of rest days or very light activity days to recover.
Trail Run 1 – July 30th, 2010 Goal: Keep HR 170-175 bpm; laps at specific trail locations.
Note: I started at Cleveland Park which is about 12.5 min at 140 bpm. I also stopped for a total of 3 minutes to input the 1/4, 1/2, and 3/4 marks on my GPS.
Trail Run 2 – August 1st, 2010 Goal: Quick 1st lap to Baden Powell Turn-Off, 6 intervals of 4 minutes, 160-165 x 1 min at run speed for lactate tolerance; 170-175 bpm to Grind Timer.
Note: Most laps were time-based not marker-based.

July 30 Aug 1
Grouse Grind Timer 45:27 41:46
Adjusted for GPS Inputs 42:27 N/A
Average Heart Rates 162 bpm 172 bpm
1st Timer to Baden Powell Turn-Off 2:10 1:54
2nd Timer to Back of Chalet 1:57 1:45

Note: We are comparing two different training strategies, hence different workouts, but on the same course.

Am I getting faster at a lower heart rate? Yes at the start and at the end, but when I analyzed my pace in between, it was very similar. It feels great that the section from the second timer around to the back of the chalet is faster. I struggled with this during the 2009 BMO Grouse Mountain Run.
I need to complete both workouts again at least twice more to be able to view trends. Of course, the analysis is only as good as the data collected and the person doing the analysis.
You can see both runs in detail including my heart rates, elevation and speed by clicking on July 30 (The end part after Grind is a run from Highway 1 to Capilano and Marine Drive) and Aug 1. Either way, I hit the sub 42 minute mark 28 days earlier on in the season than last year.
5-10% Rule of Thumb: Achieving 5-10% improvement in performance and fitness level is a good rule of thumb to prevent over-training and injury. Nutrition, recovery, technique and strategy also play a role in seeing times decrease.
So, from a best of 39:56 minutes, I am setting my 10% goal at 36 minutes and 37:56 as my 5% goal for 2010. Anything faster than 36 minutes, I will be ecstatic; the top 3 in my age category are sub 34 minutes. I do this to challenge myself and to see how fit I can be. Currently I am on pace to achieve these targets.
Philosophy: “The only influence you have is on yourself, not others. Run your own race and smile as you pass others while continuing to encourage them.”
The Grind offers a challenge that is easily measurable, that I can access easily from home or work, and that so many other people do so we can share our mutual experiences.
Please leave your comments below to let me know why you do the Grind or if you are not in Vancouver, why and where do you trail run.
Click here for Grouse Grind information.

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