Kill Your Heart Rate Monitor

06.2.2014 | 9:46 am

One last anecdote from the Timp Trail Half Marathon: one I left out of part 3 of the story (which is where this anecdote — the one I’ll eventually get to, honest — happens, chronologically) on purpose.

We were on a climb — a hard climb, but not the hardest — and I was passing people, most of whom were walking. As I went by one guy (a guy who had passed me on a descent), he asked me, “How are you running here? I’m walking and my heart rate is pegged at 170!”

I didn’t have to think about my response: “Don’t wear a heart rate monitor.”

At the moment, I meant that statement in the very simplest possible way. I.e., I don’t wear a heart rate monitor, so I don’t know what my heart rate is. 

But I also think it’s a good idea for athletes in general: stop wearing a heart rate monitor, and find out what you can really do.

More Anecdotal Evidence

I get the sense that a lot of racers — cyclists and runners in particular — have become slaves to their heart rate monitors, along with the coaches that prescribe certain heart rate zones. 

And by letting their monitors tell them what they can and cannot do, they sacrifice their opportunity for greatness. Their chance to say, with their legs and lungs, “I can push myself. I am more than a mathematical equation. I can go ’til I hurt, and then go harder. I can go ’til I want to throw up, and go harder. I can go ’til I do throw up and feel like I might black out… and then I’ll back off. But only just a tiny bit.”

For example, take my friend Kenny. I think of him as more than a friend, I think of him as a mentor. As the Platonic Ideal of cycling. He was they guy who told me to race as hard as I could and don’t worry about split times

But a few years ago, he hired a coach and followed her advice and wore a heart rate monitor as he raced the Leadville 100. And he finished with his slowest time in about ten years. One of the only times, in fact, that he’s finished in more than nine hours.

Or how about this. Adam Schwarz and I have been egging each other on about weight loss and racing for more than a year now. We were going to race each other in the St. George Half Ironman this year, but I bailed out, conceded, and rode the White Rim instead.

In the end, though, Adam’s time was just ten minutes shy of being two hours slower than my 2013 time

Of course, I asked him what happened. He said:

Heat was a big deal. Watched a lot of people have issue with it. Had to walk the 13.1 (most of it) because I couldn’t control my heart rate as a result of the heat. St George by leisurely stroll isn’t half bad.

And he also figured he didn’t eat enough — only 600 calories during the race. But the thing is, it’s always hot in St. George. And I took in maybe 800 calories during the whole race.

My assessment of what KO’d Adam that didn’t get me? I had no idea what my heart rate was. And I didn’t care. I was racing, and I was going to go until / unless I literally couldn’t. 

My heart would just have to deal with it.

Here, Try This

First of all, a caveat: I’m just a blogger, and a dorky one at that. I don’t know anything about your physical state or constraints. Don’t do anything your doctor would say is dumb for you to do, OK?

With that out of the way, I know: A lot of people train with heart rate monitors. Swear by them. But unless you’re a professional athlete — and if you’re reading this, you’re almost certainly not — I suggest that knowing your heart rate is too much information. And it’s the kind of information that gives you a reason to go easier. To slow down — or give up — before you really have to. 

You want to find out what your body — your whole body, including your lungs, legs, and heart  — are capable of? Take off your heart rate monitor and then GO ALL OUT. 

And not for a certain amount of time, either. 

Instead, go at your absolute maximum effort. Cycling up a steep hill. Running at a sprint. Seeing if you can get your rowing machine to catch on fire. Whatever. And do it until you can’t. Not until it hurts. Not until you feel like you are going to throw up. 

Do it until your body shuts you down. ’Til your mind and soul have nothing to say in the matter.

Then make a note of how you felt. How you felt as you were at your honest maximum effort, and how you felt right before you literally had to stop. 

Then, another day, do the same thing, but this time as you’re bumping up against that feeling where you have to stop, back off. Just a tiny bit. And see how that feels. Can you hold that level of effort for longer? How much longer? 

And then try other levels of effort. Listen to your lungs and your legs and your stomach and the rest of your body. If you listen to them, they will tell you, accurately and honestly, of what you are capable of at that moment. What’s too hard. What’s too easy. What you can cope with for ten seconds. Or ten minutes. Or ten hours.

Sometimes your lungs will slow you down a bit. Sometimes your legs. Sometimes — sure — your heart. But if you listen to your body, and get to know it, you’ll learn that you are the judge. You are the arbiter of your ability to keep going, or not. If you are weaker today, you get to own that…instead of blaming it on a device.

And If you are stronger today, you are awesome. 

Kill your heart rate monitor. And find out how strong you really are.


  1. Comment by Daddystyle | 06.2.2014 | 9:54 am

    Ahmen Brotha.

  2. Comment by Jenni | 06.2.2014 | 10:04 am

    I love it. So true.

  3. Comment by Grizzly Adam | 06.2.2014 | 10:11 am

    If you want to find out how strong you really are, get a power meter.

  4. Comment by daddyo | 06.2.2014 | 10:14 am

    wore a HRM yesterday in the elephant rock century on a hilly windy course (in colorado springs so base altitude is 6400 feet or so). I did not find knowing my heart rate helped. it was the three of us: my conscious self (cheering on the body), the body (complaining of pain) and the inner self (asking to be left alone). Best two out of three wins.

  5. Comment by Evan in CA | 06.2.2014 | 10:15 am

    Well put. (And that’s not just because my heart rate monitor stopped working a few weeks ago and I need to justify being too lazy to fix it.) I may leave it at home for Rockwell now.

  6. Comment by Tom in Albany | 06.2.2014 | 10:17 am

    Fatty, Dead, spot on! I used a HRM until the battery in the wristwatch died. I used it in a 3.5 mile race that I typically ran in about 24:30. Under the watchful eye of my HRM, I ran over 25:00 and still had something left in the tank at the end. Boy was I ticked! When the battery died, I never replaced it and I don’t intend to. Perceived exertion is the way to fly, for me anyway.

    I would suggest, though, that probably the best way to use a HRM is for training. Pushing the limits and going easy under a coach’s tutelage is a fine thing. However, when it comes time to race, it’s time to race. What the heck were you training for anyway? another training session?

    I rode my Tour de Cure this weekend. Unbeknownst to my work colleagues/riding buddies, I decided after about 50 miles that I was staying in the big ring even if it meant standing on all of the rest of the climbs. It’s not an especially hilly 100 miles but, I rode all of it in the big ring.

    Respectfully submitted, Tom in Albany

  7. Comment by Dan Johnson | 06.2.2014 | 10:17 am

    Dropped all visible electronics on the bike (aside from a normal digital watch…have to make sure I’m home close to on time!) years ago when the budget was exhausted after buying a new ride and there was literally nothing left to spend on a computer…and found out I was riding faster! Haven’t added a computer or HRM to this day, though I do let my cell phone silently record the workout from my jersey pocket…

  8. Comment by fat cathy | 06.2.2014 | 10:19 am

    I quit wearing my HR monitor in races years ago after I got dropped in a race when I looked at my HR and thought my heart was about to explode. I backed off, got dropped and rode the rest of the 40 miles of that race alone, kicking myself the whole way for being stupid.

  9. Comment by Jodi | 06.2.2014 | 10:25 am


  10. Comment by Cyclodoc | 06.2.2014 | 10:27 am

    I agree. I wear a hr strap but I don’t have my hrs displayed on my Garmin. I only look at it when I’m back home again. If I were to look at it during racing I would probably think “I cannot sustain this effort for long and then back off”. In racing you just have to cover the moves as best you can, and if you attack you go all in. No dilly dallying with hr-zones

  11. Comment by Tom in Albany | 06.2.2014 | 10:29 am

    @Dan Johnson, My bike computer bounced off of my bike and run over by a rather large truck. I took it as an omen. I haven’t had one since. Sometimes I’d like to know how fast I’m going, just to know. But, like you, I record on my phone (Endomondo) and look it up later. I won’t say I’m any faster but, at least I’m watching where I’m going.

  12. Comment by Fellowfattychris | 06.2.2014 | 10:30 am

    I agree with everything you said, and I actually wear a heart rate monitor while training and racing. However, I train and race based on how I feel, not what my heart rate says. I only review my heart rate after the fact. I never have used it within a race and limited my performance based on a current heart rate level. The fact about heart rates is often there is a lag time with your heart rate and your actual performance.

    PS, I beat your 2013 Ironman 70.3 St George by 3 minutes this year :) It looks like we will be racing a couple of the same triathlons later this year in September. Look forward to seeing you out there.

  13. Comment by Dave T | 06.2.2014 | 10:30 am

    I train with a HR monitor I though the goal was to max it out? Ride until you pass out yes a very worthy goal.

  14. Comment by Doug (Way Upstate NY) | 06.2.2014 | 10:41 am

    I train with a heart rate monitor. It helps to set effort levels when doing targeted training.

    I race RPE (rider perceived exertion). I still wear the heart rate monitor, but mostly cause I am curious.

  15. Comment by Nic Grillo | 06.2.2014 | 10:53 am

    I use one, but really only to impress myself. I take a look at it right before I’m about to pass out and say “Wow, that’s higher than the 220 minus my age chart says I should be able to go!”

  16. Comment by Papa Bear | 06.2.2014 | 11:01 am

    I cannot give a big enough Amen to that one! I used a heartrate monitor for a while, but I found it more of an annoyance than anything. In fact, the only thing I use my computer for is just the fun of seeing how fast my fat posterior can propel my bike down the big hills near my work. (top speed recorded: 47.9mph)

  17. Comment by Joe | 06.2.2014 | 11:10 am

    Never used one. Any kind of fitness tech devices I have that had a heart rate monitor option it was always an add-on purchase or only available on an otherwise identical but more expensive version so I was always happy to pass on it.

  18. Comment by gingyh | 06.2.2014 | 11:11 am

    Fatty, I do believe that this might be the single best post you’ve ever written. I deleted all of my tracking apps ages ago and refuse to give into HR monitors/Garmins/etc. If I go down that road, then I’ll obsess over it. Then I’ll lose the fun of it. Then what’s the use in riding or running? Screw that. I’m gonna have fun. :)

  19. Comment by Chris | 06.2.2014 | 11:18 am

    I use my HRM a little on really long rides (that aren’t races) where I don’t want to bonk 50km from home. I don’t want to make that phone call to my wife.

    I wear it too during races, but am always too busy thrashing myself to bits to look at the screen and, everytime, my HR is higher that I would have considered A) prudent, or B) possible.

  20. Comment by bob | 06.2.2014 | 11:19 am

    NotSoFatty: That’s great advice unless you have asthma because redlining for too long blows up your asthma, clogs your lungs making you pretty much done for the day if it gets bad enough. I had 2 big rides go really bad last year because my asthma blew up while hauling my fat ass up some big mountains.

    That made me mad for good this time so I lost 40lbs of post-surgery weight and then some over the winter and now I can actually accelerate uphill yay!

    I was on the course with daddyo yesterday at the ERock and totally forgot to turn on my hrm but didn’t miss it one bit and didn’t have to worry about my asthma this time. Double yay!!

    It’s because of things like asthma that I included the caveat in the post. – FC

  21. Comment by Drew | 06.2.2014 | 11:56 am

    This is the second piece like this I’ve seen in as many days. I wear an HRM religiously, but it’s just for data after the fact, not during.

  22. Comment by Joe | 06.2.2014 | 12:18 pm

    I know this won’t be a popular opinion, but we’re all grown ups and make our own choices, right?

    A HRM can protect you from your macho self.

    Ducking for cover……

    For what it’s worth, I thought I’d need to duck for cover when I wrote this piece. And I’m glad to have alternate points of view. – FC

  23. Comment by centurion | 06.2.2014 | 12:28 pm

    So when I’m going up the biggest hill in town(it’s nj so give me a break), as hard as I can, and invoke Jens, then my heart blows out of my chest, and is a bloody lump on the ground, I’ll be smiling. Yup, a big ole I went as hard and as long as I could and I’m happy about it smile.

  24. Comment by Sam | 06.2.2014 | 12:46 pm

    I ride with someone who uses their HR monitor religiously, and nearly “lives” by it. We will go on hard, sustained group rides, where I often will lead, uphill, against the wind. He always asks me, “what the heck is your HR right now? (behind me, and dropping). My answer is, I don’t know! I really don’t care, my body will tell me when to back off, the monitor gives a false sense of “something”. Whatever you are doing, just leave it all out there. I’m with Fatty, ditch the monitor.

  25. Comment by Jeff Bike | 06.2.2014 | 12:47 pm

    I use a HRM because I don’t have self control! If I see a rabbit I’m on it like a Jack Russell terrier! On longer rides it helps me not blowup and bonk. I use it in training and keep edging up the limits.

    I used it once in a race and I didn’t go hard enough.

  26. Comment by Ratadog | 06.2.2014 | 1:09 pm

    I think your most important point was your caveat. I spent the first couple of months this year off the bike while my colleagues in the medical profession tried to discover the state of my personal caveat. In the end they said go out and ride but take aspirin.

    What is relevant to the rest of your thesis is that in my case using an HRM to avoid red lining has been associated with me going further and faster than before so I am not sure that the HRM is the issue but how you use it.

  27. Comment by Heidi | 06.2.2014 | 1:19 pm

    “I can go ’til I do throw up and feel like I might black out… and then I’ll back off. But only just a tiny bit.”

    Please, oh please, be gentle with me in Zion…

    Ha! How about we all wear heart rate monitors in Zion and make a pact to never leave Zone 2 (whatever that is)? – FC

  28. Comment by Flat tired | 06.2.2014 | 1:33 pm

    That might be the smartest thing you ever said and that said, maybe it’s time to unplug the cycling computer completely… I have a Garmin and have become it’s slave. I’m done with that.

  29. Comment by Laura | 06.2.2014 | 1:36 pm

    I’m relatively new to cycling. As in, bought a hybrid three years ago and bought a road bike this past fall. A friend suggested I get a heart rate monitor when I complained that I started to black out when I hit the really big hills. Well, they were really big to me! Anywho, I spent the whole ride waiting for the bells and whistles to tell me that I was in the danger zone. Between watching my cadence and waiting for my heart to burst I darn near fell off the bike a few times. Now that I’m an old pro, (I am, right?) I hardly look at my cadence and the heart rate monitor is gathering dust. You know what? I have a heck of a lot more fun when I ride. I listen to my body and ride accordingly.

  30. Comment by Mark in Bremerton | 06.2.2014 | 1:49 pm

    I have one of those rowing machines (ergometer) and with the HRM and the machine’s monitor reading watts, I have figured out those HR zones where I can go for 10 seconds, 10 minutes, or 10 hours. So I used my HRM in cycling time trials to make sure I went hard enough, and not let my heart rate drop below what I knew I could hold, despite my brain telling me to back off. More of a lower limit than upper limit. In road races, it’s too variable with the group racing – useless device.

  31. Comment by Trey Jackson | 06.2.2014 | 2:09 pm

    Great post. I find it odd/curious when people are slaves to their technology. Do you find yourself checking your smartphone because it’s beeping at you? ha – slave!

    I agree with the other posters that HR can be used appropriately for training (in my case, making sure my light days are in fact light) – but there’s really no reason to use it at all in a race, nor cadence, or speed, or …

    When you race – just race.

    FWIW: I use a garmin and a HR strap, and a cadence sensor, but only look at the numbers after the fact (other than current time – to make sure I’m home on time(ish)). I was blown away by two of my races where my average heart rate for 2+ hours (each) was over 170 (just 8 beats below the 220-age maximum) – further evidence that racing by zones would lead to slower results.

  32. Comment by Cat_Rancher | 06.2.2014 | 2:41 pm

    I wore a HRM during my very short running adventure. I “ran” on a trail/track with my iPod (yes, it has been a while). One day I was in the zone, “trotting” along, when I thought, “What is that annoying noise?” It was my HRM, trying to inform me that apparently I had died about a mile back and just hadn’t noticed yet. I could not get it to stop beeping at me, so I yelled “Shut UP!” and ripped the chest thingy off.
    Unfortunately, I hadn’t noticed the poor little old lady walking her dog in the other direction…. I should have given it to her after that- she may have needed it.

  33. Comment by randy | 06.2.2014 | 3:03 pm

    A related note, not exactly the same issue, but related.

  34. Comment by Anonymous | 06.2.2014 | 3:09 pm

    I wear a HRM so I know whether it would be futile to try and get out of bed.

  35. Comment by ScottyCycles62 | 06.2.2014 | 3:29 pm

    Just don’t look at it until you are done.

  36. Comment by Jim B | 06.2.2014 | 4:13 pm

    I’m on the other side of this. It seems most people are agreeing with Fatty on this one, but it isn’t true in my case. I think the difference is that Fatty is competitive, while I’m simply riding to keep my body healthy. So why do I have a garmin with HRM at all? Because it gives me something to look at during the ride and after the ride.

  37. Comment by Pari | 06.2.2014 | 4:23 pm

    Great post. I agree. But I must say that HRM was usefull couple of years ago, to help me to know my body and now I just go by listening to it as you suggested.

  38. Comment by KevinM_Indiana(soon to be Virginia) | 06.2.2014 | 6:54 pm

    Well said Fatty …. Listen to your body … You may have to argue with it on occasion … But listen to it and you will be fine!

  39. Comment by Rolins | 06.2.2014 | 9:52 pm

    I had a Polar for a bit and I always found that a) I would be looking at it ALL the time and b) it would scare the @#$% out of me if my rate went “too high”.
    So I stopped using it, I guess in my opinion the same goes for power meters and the like (unless someone is paying you to run/ride, that is).

  40. Comment by Team CoffeNook | 06.2.2014 | 11:14 pm

    Yea verify…drop the computer also…

  41. Comment by J | 06.3.2014 | 5:30 am

    So I guess a nerd approach would be to hack your HR monitor. Perhaps lower the readings by several points. If you have a lower beat, you could have the confidence to keep going harder! It could be like that jogging scene I’m GATTACA where he had a recording of a slower heart beat but was pushing his limits on the inside.

  42. Comment by Chris | 06.3.2014 | 6:55 am

    Warning – strong opinion ahead. :)

    Training with a heart rate monitor is not about monitoring your heart rate per se; it’s about knowing how your body is responding to the effort. You’re precisely right – you have to know your limits (all of them) long before you use a heart rate monitor as an aid.

    Once you know your limits, you should also know roughly how your heart will respond under those conditions. If your heart rate jumps over the expected target range, or never reaches the target range, you have data as to your overall condition: over-trained, under-trained, well rested, poorly rested, dehydrated, under-fueled, etc.

    That said, heart rate is simply a datapoint (in my oh-so-professional opinion). You need to track it, but you need to use it as just that: data.

    Training with power is a completely different story. For cyclists, that’s where it’s at.

    There you go, being smart and stuff. Didn’t I tell you that’s not allowed on my blog? – FC

  43. Comment by Steve Z | 06.3.2014 | 8:39 am

    Right on. More riding and less gadgets.

    Steve Z

  44. Comment by KM | 06.3.2014 | 9:43 am

    Holy crap. This may be the first time I will actually listen to your advice. I just raced this past weekend and had the worst finish of my life b/c I was convinced my heart rate was too high. The race two weeks prior I barely looked at it and made the podium.

    While I don’t have the bank roll right now to get a power meter, I may start squirrling away cash now for Christmas. Also I remember that Leadville story and was always curious how Kenny finished when you wrote saying you saw Kenny and he said he was in some zone. Thanks for cleaning up that detail. Well put Fatty I think the death of a HRM is in my future.

  45. Comment by Rick | 06.3.2014 | 10:10 am

    I wear a HRM whenever I train or race but I don’t look at it until I get home. I like looking at the uploaded results and wonder how I didn’t die from my HR being 20 beats over my “max”. ;)

  46. Comment by Thad | 06.3.2014 | 10:15 am

    I ditched the HR monitor, but kept the powermeter. Is that bad?

    I’d get a power meter if I could afford one. – FC

  47. Comment by Jacqueline Willis | 06.3.2014 | 10:32 am

    I wear a heart rate monitor, but having done several tests to find my maximum heart rate (211 bpm) my zones have a more upward range than prescribed by the accepted method (what is it? 220 minus your age or something random, so at 35 years old mine would be 185). I barely break a sweat at 150 which is supposed to be my conventional lactate threashold. It’s actually the range in which I begin to get cold when exercising.

    I would love to know that if those folk who stopped at 170bpm had actually found out their own maximum heart rates or if they’d been lazy and just taken it as told.


  48. Comment by Jerry Pringle | 06.3.2014 | 11:08 am

    Well said, although I do wear my HRM when training and racing – the engineer in me likes to look at the graphs when I’m done! Sometimes though I get into the old “hard days too easy, easy days too hard” rut and have to set limits to hit.

  49. Comment by Lance (not THE Lance) | 06.3.2014 | 12:30 pm

    I agree, but also disagree. The bottom line is that if you use your HRM in races the same way you use it for training, you are using it wrong. A coach gives you zones and workouts in those zones for a reason. One of which is to pace your training so you don’t kill yourself off – consistency is one of the big keys to fitness progress. If you race like you train (pacing yourself over days or weeks) you’ll never break any PR’s. Racing is the time where you run/ride/whatever like there is no tomorrow.

    I would suggest still racing with your HRM, but putting it in a place where you can’t look at it. Compare that heart rate data with “hard” workouts and analyze the difference. I was very surprised when the first criterium race I raced my HR was pegged at 95% MHR right from the start, and it only went up from there. You can’t train like that. If you did, you wouldn’t be doing it for long. I managed a 5th place and I would have never done that had I looked at my HR and slowed down because I “was exceeding my HR zone.”

  50. Comment by Lance (not THE Lance) | 06.3.2014 | 12:40 pm

    Sorry for the double post, but a HRM only gives you half of the picture: it only tells you what your body is putting into a workout. If you are a cyclist, a power meter can give you the other half of the story: what the result of that effort is. Power meters and HRM’s are very similar in that to effectively use them, you gotta do your homework. More often than not I run into other cyclists with power meters and I ask them what their threshold power is and they don’t even know what I’m talking about. My point is that both devices are useless unless you know how to apply them to your training.

  51. Comment by GregC | 06.3.2014 | 2:33 pm

    I’m with you mostly on this. On short races, you can afford to go all out and test yourself- but on really long events pacing is necessary.
    Enough said- lets hear about your Rockwell Relay strategy- who is doing which leg? Unforutantly I wont be there to join you this year- I’m crewing for a friend doing the RAAM (Race Accross America)- the ultimate endurance event for the really twisted.

  52. Comment by The Cyclist | 06.3.2014 | 3:11 pm

    In a few months we’ll have middle age cyclists dying all over the planet from geart attacks and they’ll all have one thing in common. Having read this post of your blog ;)

  53. Comment by The Cyclist | 06.3.2014 | 3:14 pm

    Heart attacks. Not geart attacks. Sorry about being unfocused. My HRM just stopped beeping while I was typing…

  54. Comment by Mark White | 06.3.2014 | 5:42 pm

    You all know that “max heart = 220 – age” is a myth right? There is no scientific basis for it or any other such formula. All such formulas are based on population studies of sedentary people.

    The cardiac Dr that came up with the “max heart = 220 – age” formula has regretted putting it in his presentation. It was a back of the envelope calculation on a plane ride to the conference…. using data from his cardiac patients.

    Your major muscles (legs) drive your heart, not the other way around. The only way to determine your max heart rate for a specific sport is using a lab or doing a fitness test on your own.

  55. Comment by Scotts | 06.3.2014 | 6:42 pm

    I think riding a singlespeed with an hr monitor would be pretty much impossible. Maybe that’s where you started to develop this opinion. I was never so in tune with my body or understood how far I could push it until I started riding one. You really learn how to manage (not control) your hr and breathing.
    I really hope to see you on the start line at park city p2p this year. That course is made for climbers who love to push themselves beyond their limit.

  56. Comment by Gecko ago | 06.3.2014 | 11:23 pm

    Holy balls! Where is the like button on this deal? Whole “heartedly” agree with your observation. If you are racing, you are racing. Let your body guide you not the machine.

  57. Comment by The Cyclist | 06.4.2014 | 4:08 am

    Holy balls!!!? I’d like to see some. What do they look like?

  58. Comment by Peter | 06.4.2014 | 9:32 am

    Heart rate monitors are data collection devices, not controllers. I always wear an HRM. When do I look at it? After collecting the hill primes. I am excited to know I am three beats under HRmax at this point. It is also a hoot, to download this data into Training Peaks along with Power meter data. I get these great emails from Friel at Training peaks telling me I just increased my Threshold power by 5 watts. They also have a feature that monitors training load. Which if used properly by me, might have told me to back off before this cough took over my thorax.

  59. Comment by Mark | 06.4.2014 | 11:18 am

    I use my HRM ONLY to track data and never look while riding. It is nice to watch my average and maximum HRs decrease as I get into better shape after sluggish winters in Ohio.

  60. Comment by George | 06.4.2014 | 2:06 pm

    Fatty- Happy National Running Day.
    Enjoy it without a heart rate monitor!

  61. Comment by geraldatwork | 06.4.2014 | 2:28 pm

    I am a 66 year old road biker. I wear a HR monitor all of the time. At my age I am not supposed to go higher than about 150-160. However I ignore those numbers and on a 60 mile 3-4 hour ride I average about 150 with my peak sometimes going into the low 180’s. I can maintain 160-170 for about 20 minutes. So I use it in reverse of most people. If I am feeling tired on a hill and feel I can’t go any harder if my HR is 170 I know I can kick it in and push harder.

  62. Pingback by Chainlinks: Best of the Bike Web, June 6, 2014 - Trail & Tarmac | 06.6.2014 | 8:21 am

    [...] Man, with Strava and power meters and heart rate monitors, everything can be tracked. But should everything be tracked that could be tracked? Fat Cyclist makes the case against heart rate monitors. [...]

  63. Comment by Will deRosset | 06.7.2014 | 2:03 pm


    I use a heart rate monitor from time to time.

    I find it helpful in one way–I’m apparently the laziest athlete I know, and one that is easily distracted. Consequently, my pace pushing a wind or climbing can ordinarily be described as “conversational”, while I maunder on world hunger or whether the 17T cog out back is getting shark-toothed–it is making a bit of noise–Hey, was that an Eastern Kingbird? Are they native here??

    My HRM (or, for that matter, a speedometer) gives me something to bring my focus back to my effort in training. I don’t use either in races (I’m plenty focused then), or on recreational rides (where the goal is a conversational pace, and, hopefully, conversation, even if it is with myself.)


    William M. deRosset
    Fort Collins, CO

  64. Comment by Aaron | 06.9.2014 | 8:54 pm

    Loved this post!

    I usually wear a heart rate monitor to re-iterate to my body that I’m not actually pushing myself as hard as I could be… But over the weekend, I refrained from using the HRM and beat my time up a local hill climb by a whole minute. Worked wonders!

  65. Comment by Kev | 06.11.2014 | 9:26 am

    After I retired from high-level road competitions at age 36, my monitor broke down and I didn’t replace it. I got back into high-speed downhill skiing and found that the wind noise was dominating my senses, so I used earplugs, which allow me to feel the snow & ice through the skis/boots/bones.

    I then started using the plugs when cycling (slightly wetted to seat them, and it dampens sound even more). For safety, I can still hear engine & tire noise from vehicles coming from behind, but I can hear (and concentrate) on nuances in my heartbeat and breathing. With enhanced hearing, I can better associate different effects of road surfaces through the bike, and this creates a ‘feel’ for the terrain.

    Try it a few times; you won’t go back to wind shriek.

  66. Comment by Carrie Cheadle | 06.12.2014 | 10:44 am

    Yes! I recommend this all the time. When that feedback ends up holding you back instead of informing your training decisions – it’s no longer serving you. When you look down and see that number and have an expectation of what you can (or can’t) do based on the number you see – that’s going to affect your thoughts, which influences how you feel physically, influences what you believe you’re capable of, and inevitably impact your performance. That was good advice you gave! :)

  67. Pingback by Heart Rate Monitors and Training | A Year of Living...humm...dangerous? | 06.13.2014 | 5:33 am

    [...] week the Fat Cyclist did a post on Killing Your Heart Rate Monitor. It was a good post which basically pointed out the difference between training/racing philosophies [...]

  68. Pingback by Fat Cyclist » Blog Archive » The Joys of Quantification, Part 2: Garmin Edge 510 Long-Term Usage Thoughts | 07.28.2014 | 1:30 pm

    [...] And while I use the GPS itself all the time, I don’t use any of the things it can wirelessly connect to. I don’t connect to any ANT+ devices like a power meter or speed/cadence sensor. I also don’t use a heart rate monitor. [...]


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