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A new way to run. What do I mean by that? For those of you that have followed my fitness journey for a while, you know that just a few years ago I FINALLY figured out how to run. I always wanted to be a runner but felt that I just couldn’t. It took having a good friend of mine— who also had never run before— start to run and excel at it and really enjoy it. That showed me that hey, maybe I can do this too. For me, my problem in the past with not being able to run had been BREATHING.
I sure know how to talk a lot but wow, try to teach me to BREATHE correctly— out of the belly vs. out of the chest— and let’s just say that was a humbling experience. All things considered though, when I finally figured out how to be able to RUN, I was IN LOVE. I absolutely love running, and yet, I didn’t turn in to a marathon-a-holic after I started running. For those of you reading this post that are just starting to run, I personally think there are two types of runners. There are those that get very excited and into running… and once they start, they go crazy for doing every single 5k, 10k, 1/2 marathon and marathon on the planet. Then, there are folks like me that probably like that idea… but either don’t have the patience for the training that goes into the marathon life, or they like to run alone. That’s me. I love love love to run; especially outside, but I like to run alone. And I have found myself NOT drawn to the marathon life. If you are new to running, I encourage you to RUN YOUR OWN PATH….don’t do what everyone else tells you that you SHOULD do…do what you ENJOY. Running is an awesome thing and once you catch the fever, you’ll never lose it (in my opinion) but it’s sometimes easy to get swayed by what you think you should be doing or trying to keep up with others.
RUN YOUR OWN RACE. If that’s a marathon: so be it. If it’s just you competing with you and enjoying the thrill of each new run, then that’s awesome.
Now. This post is for you runners that, whether you are training for a marathon or whether you are like me and just enjoy running: you want to take things up a notch. Enter the heart rate monitor, and specifically this one by TOMTOM USA: the TomTom Runner Cardio. Take a look at this beauty.
Watch this video, provided by TOMTOM USA, and you’ll start to SEE what I’m talking about.
When I first learned about heart rate monitors it was from my trainer at Life Time Fitness. He convinced me to do a Metabolic Assessment Profile test on the treadmill, and they funneled all that data unique to me and my body into the heart rate monitor I was using at the time. I learned that my maximum heart rate is around 180. I learned that my ideal “fat burning zone” is around 150, and my resting heart rate was around 80 if I remember correctly. You might be thinking, YAWN…..what does this all mean Kelly? It means a lot. In my opinion, many of us tend to train sometimes at far LESS intensity than we think we are. With a heart rate monitor, you KNOW that you should be (in my case) aiming to move and get that heart rate around 150. If I was doing something like crazy HIIT or Tabata, my goal might be to spike my heart rate up to 170 for a minute, then rest. This is another area where you can use a heart rate monitor to measure your HEALTH improvements. When you jack your heart rate way up to 170 or 180, the key thing is to track HOW FAST once resting you can get your heart rate back down to a normal range like 125. So as you train, you’ll know that your heart is stronger when you can RECOVER faster.
See how cool this is? In my opinion, the more you can make fitness FUN, and challenging— the more you will stick with it. For me, using a heart rate monitor really changed the experience. I’ve been known to say that “I’m not working out unless I have my HRM on.” I really ENJOY the numbers and seeing how much I am improving. It also takes the focus away from what can be negative, which is focusing solely on your weight on the scale or measuring yourself for fat loss. When you use a heart rate monitor to track your speed, your heart rate, your caloric burn, your overall time and pace, your heart rate recovery time improvements: suddenly you become your own science project and fitness becomes more fun. This is my opinion of course but I cannot recommend using a heart rate monitor enough. It will change everything for you.
5 THINGS TO TRACK USING A HEART RATE MONITOR
- Caloric Burn. Because, yea, it’s cool to know that you burned 350 calories in 1/2 hour.
- Resting Heart Rate. As you become healthier, your resting heart rate will change. Using a heart rate monitor makes this more tangible vs. conceptual.
- Recovery Rate. Track how fast your heart rate calms down from a high rate to a lower rate. Again— this is key, this is overall heart health. That’s a GOOD THING.
- Pace. Even if you aren’t a marathon-a-holic, you want to improve your time, it’s fun to see how much you can improve your speed at running. Tracking pace is another way to keep your mind occupied and suddenly, you won’t even notice and you’ll be running for an hour at a time.
- Distance. As your pace improves, so will the distance you cover. Another way to make yourself and your training your own little science experiment that never ends.
As I said, I’ve used heart rate monitors for a WHILE. I’ve tested out a LOT and the TomTom watch has really impressed me. First and foremost, it has NO CHEST STRAP. I’ll admit I was skeptical that it could pick up my heart rate— but it did, quite naturally. For those of you new to HRM, a lot of other models require you to wear a chest strap to pick up the heart rate. Watch this video below to see the magic:
The readout is VERY COOL. I love how it shows not just what my pace was, but it shows a map of exactly where I ran (no cheating!!). This is the screen shot I took after doing a test lap right around my neighborhood— please forgive the blurry view.
Like I said, I’ve used a lot of HRM products in my past. Some are great, some not so great. I really like this readout and the ease of use for me is key. It didn’t take hours of reading a “How To” manual to get this thing going. Some HRMs on the market are very complex in design and set-up, especially for a newbie, can be frustrating and time consuming. This was very intuitive and I’m sold. I have to admit, I am ridiculously into the fact that there is no chest strap. It’s NICE to not have to put that on. I never really complained about the chest straps I’ve used with other models in the past, but when you only have to put on a watch, it’s nice. I think the more simple you keep your process, the more you will stick with it.
5 THINGS TO INCORPORATE INTO YOUR RUNS TO TAKE THINGS UP A NOTCH.
- Sprints. Find an area where you can just blast out some killer sprints; see how high your heart rate jumps when you sprint all out for x number of blocks.
- Hills. Hills are no joke. Look up “hill repeats” and find lots of awesome drills you can do with hills; it will definitely challenge you and vary your heart rate. And you will feel very fly, trust me.
- Plyometrics. Take a pause and incorporate some plyometric moves. Not sure what I mean? Head over to YouTube and you’ll find a zillion plyo moves, they can be as simple as tuck jumps or even jumping jacks (try air jacks!!). Stopping your run, letting your heart rate come down and then adding in some plyo— just watch what that does for your sweat factor. Plus it’s so fun!!
- Mix it up. Go outside or take it inside. Whatever it is that you normally do: do the opposite for a few days a week. Always keep your body guessing.
- Incorporate some power WALKING in the middle of your runs. Great to use your legs and glutes and core… and surprise yourself with how much you can keep yourself working hard, while WALKING.
Here’s my take. This TOM TOM USA heart rate monitor is really a great catch— and I think it’s great for runners that are just starting out— and also for seasoned runners. I think it’s good for people that have used a HRM in the past and for those that have never used it. You’ll figure this one out in no time. The timing for me (no pun intended…get it, a watch…the timing? get it?) is ideal in that I can just now start running again, after having the flu but also some major back pain issues that required me to stop running this summer. Seeing this readout and what this HRM will track has fired me up to get RUNNING and GET BETTER every day. I highly recommend this for a great gift idea or just to reward yourself for a job well done and to take things up a notch!!
Please note: I am not a certified personal trainer or a coach; I am merely sharing my personal experience here with what trainers have taught ME. Please consult with your doctor and/or trainer before starting any intense physical process. Keep it safe people! 😉
Last little gift from me to you.
5 of my FAVORITE RUNNING SONGS GUARANTEED TO MAKE YOU NOT STOP.
- “Now” by STAIND
- “Indestructible” by DISTURBED
- “She Wolf” by David Guetta, SIA
- “Burn it to the Ground” by NICKELBACK
- “Battleflag” by Lo Fidelity Allstars
What do you think? Want a TOM TOM USA RUNNER CARDIO?? Well, oh snap, we have a giveaway, along with some extra goodies: a water bottle, fitness gear and coupons for healthy meals!!! BONUS!!!
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