1. Calories Burned.
Being able to see how many calories you burn during a workout is amazing. I’m obsessed with the iPhone app “May My Run.” It also has a calorie counter but it only bases ‘calories burned’ off of your height, weight & age. While Map My Run is great for calculating distances, I love that my Polar is more accurate and also uses my heart rate to calculate the calories I burn in each workout. I’ve tested this out many times, using both my polar watch and Map My Run during a workout. Map My Run overestimates the calories burned 90% of the time. Which kind of stinks considering that the last 2 years I thought I was burning a lot more calories than I actually was! Oh well. At least now I know better.
Being able to see how many calories I’ve burned often encourages me to take the long way home if I’m trying to hit a certain amount of calories during a workout. Perfect example: the other morning I wanted to burn 600 calories during my run. At the end of my run I ran up to the house and I was only at 580 something. Did I take another loop around the block? Yes. Would I have done that if it weren’t for my watch? Never! I really like running for calories versus distance. Some days it’s nice to switch things up.
3. Not just for runners.
I love that I can use this watch during my spinning and cross fit classes at the gym. Before I got this watch, I never really knew how many calories I was burning during group fitness classes. Knowing exactly how many calories I’ve burned after a spinning class is awesome – especially when I’ve worked so hard! Spinning classes can be brutal.
4. It Pushes You.
Now that I’ve been using my watch for a few months, I know where my target heart rate should be when I’m jogging vs. running hard. I can glance down in the middle of a run and know (just based off of my heart rate) if I’m not pushing myself hard enough. Then I’ll run harder. Same goes for spinning class. It’s a nice dynamic and almost acts as a digital running coach.
5. Prevents Over-Training.
When training for a race (in particular, a marathon), it’s so important to give yourself ‘easy days.’ Sometimes I find it hard to hold back during the easy runs and I tend to go too fast when I’m supposed to be giving my body a break. It’s really important not to over-train. Using a heart-rate monitor allows you to stay below a specific heart rate and prevents you from going too hard when you’re supposed to be taking it easy. That way, you’re less likely to feel exhausted the next day when you’re scheduled to do a longer, harder run.
P.S. I have the Polar FT4 shown above and I love it. It’s really basic and I’m okay with that. If you’re looking for something more high-tech there are a ton of great heart rate monitor watches out there. This one is perfect for me though. And it’s pink so can you really blame me for being so obsessed? ; )