As a triathlete and runner who utilizes heart rate based periodization training, I was very interested in reviewing the LifeBEAM Smart Hat. As workouts are prescribed based on training zones, athletes need a reliable source of gathering heart rate data during the session. For years I used a Garmin chest strap, which is generally considered to be the best measure of heart rate data. However, the downside of a chest strap is that it can chafe the skin, causing redness, soreness, pain, and broken skin. Fortunately for those of us who battle with chafing, products with optical sensors are becoming increasingly popular and there is a fair variety to choose from. The downside of optical sensors has always been their tendency to be inaccurate at times, when compared to a chest strap. Dips, surges in heart rate, and high or low readings tend to happen occasionally, which can be frustrating when the numbers don’t match your rate of perceived exertion.
For the past 6 months I have been dabbling in the new world of heart rate training thanks to the input from my good friend Eric here at Hampton Runner. At first I was using a standard Garmin chest strap with my 910xt and Fenix 2. It performed great except for the fact that I would chafe on my upper stomach where the sensors would rest on my skin. It became so bad I began to not wear my chest strap anymore to allow the scabs to heal, in turn making me run harder than I should have resulting in overuse injuries. I was in search of a remedy and Eric offered the new Mio Alpha 2. If you are in the market for a new heart rate monitor hopefully my thoughts below will point you in the right direction towards your new investment.
What is it? The Mio Fuse is an activity tracker and heart rate monitor. It is a pretty nifty little device. As an activity tracker, you can set goals, monitor your heart rate, and keep track of steps, calories and distance. It will show you, via the app, how many steps you have taken, and how many you need to reach your goal. The heart rate monitor is an optical sensor. Meaning it shines a little light on your skin and the sensor pick up heart rate.
Heart rate is an important part of training for many athletes. It is an invaluable governor using biofeedback to keep them from trying to do too much at a time. Until recently, this training was accomplished using a strap worn around the chest. For many however, this strap was both inconvenient and aggravating. Worse, it causes chafing for some. As an alternative, optical heart rate monitors that can be worn around the wrist were created. Sadly, these are notoriously inaccurate. That is until Mio came onto the market first with the LINK, and now the VELO.
I received a Mio VELO and have really tried to put it though its paces. Surprisingly, it has met the challenge with aplomb.
Whenever thinking about heart rate training or training by pace, it is important to consider training by perceived exertion and running naked. “Running Naked” — with no equipment — and “streaking” — running at least one mile a day every day for extended periods of time — are terms being used lately as headlines for getting snickers, but there is an actual point.
Heart Rate training. What is it? This is one of the ultimate decisions a runner may make when starting a training plan or training cycle.
There are two basic methods of training for runners who track their data, training by heart rate and training by pace. The heart rate training method uses biofeedback to determine effort and the runner trains accordingly.
As a result, runners using this method completely ignore pace. By ignoring pace and going by heart rate, they will be running by a set effort. This offers the ability to train at a set effort level consistently, but the results will fluctuate based on how a runner feels that day. It helps take in consideration factors like lack of sleep, diet, weather conditions, stress and more. So a runner who gets a full night sleep and is feeling well may run a pace of 8 minutes per mile on a run. The next day, they may be short on sleep, and it is warm out. They may run an average of 8:20 minutes per mile at the exact same heart rate.