Before I focused on running again, I used to do boot camp at my gym with a personal trainer. My personal trainer made it a point to teach us about heart rate and focusing on being in certain zones during different parts of the workout. Not gonna lie – I was pretty skeptical and brushed it off as a sales pitch. After a few months, I decided to try it out after all and picked up a simple heart rate monitor and went through zone testing. After a while of using my heart rate monitor during boot camp I noticed a difference in my training – originally I was training either way too intensely (highest zone) and burning out, or I wasn’t working out hard enough (low zone) and wasn’t getting the full workout.
When I transitioned from boot camp to focusing more on distance running I wasn’t too sure how I could add in (or if I even should) heart rate monitoring. I’ve struggled with pacing myself since high school cross country and heart rate monitoring would help with intensity and figuring out where I should be so I don’t burn out – but how do you properly mix in heart rate training with running (and not have a million things to carry)?!
Pear is an app for iPhone 4s and 5 that uses heart rates to coach you through the workout. Included inside the Pear kit is a Bluetooth heart rate monitor (chest strap), headphones and instructions on how to sync the heart rate monitor and install the app.
The strap is completely adjustable – it took me a few tries to get it to the right fit, but once I did it stayed. I’ve had the issue with other heart rate monitor straps that they would loosen up as I worked out but this wasn’t the case at all. Syncing the heart rate monitor my phone was simple – just download the app, turn on Bluetooth on your phone, and go back into the app and sync through the settings. After syncing, the app has you calibrate the heart rate monitor to set your zones for training. This was a 20 minute workout that started out with zone 1 for a few minutes (walking) and went all the way up to zone 5 (high intensity) – this took me a few tries to do because when I started out I was used to running, but had to force myself to slow down to get my zones correct.
Once calibrated, I was ready to workout. The app has it’s own store inside with different training plans and workouts (a variety of free and paid plans)- ranging from marathon training plans to core and strength workouts. I decided to try out the Fast Finish workout.
This workout was hard. The workout started out with a brief warmup in zone 1 – of which I quickly overdid and had the audible coach remind me numerous times to return to zone 1. After the warm up, there was 20 minutes of running in zone 2. I liked during this stage not only would the coach alert me if I was out of my zone, but the coach would also throw in a few one minute “form challenges”. During these challenges the coach has you focus on your form while running and notice if one side of your body moves differently than the other. I’ve been struggling with my form (as I’ve learned in my race photos) and this was really helpful to make me aware.
After the 20 minute zone 2 run it was time for the main event – the 5 minute zone 3 speed workout. During this time the coach speaks up a bit more and reads out your heart rate every few seconds, as well as gives you minute updates on your progress. This was challenging for me as I started out too fast and quickly found myself in zone 4. The coach reminded me and I was able to drop down to the correct zone. After completing the workout, Pear provides a recap of the workout and feedback on what to focus on next.
Not surprisingly my feedback was to stay in my zones when training.
Overall, I really like this app and believe it will change the way I train. I really liked that with this app I was able to stream music while I run and the coach was still able to hear the coach – usually the apps I’ve used haven’t been able to override the music unless it’s downloaded music. When I get back into half marathon training I will definitely be using one of Pear’s 16 week training program to keep me on track. Want to try out Pear? Use the code FITFLUENTIAL for 30% off!
QOTD: Do you use a heart rate monitor when you workout?
Disclosure: I was provided a Pear Mobile Training kit however all opinions are my own