I’m finishing the HRM section in my new book and wanted to get your thoughts about the latest monitors. If a friend asked you for a recommendation -- a simple HRM for running and swimming, for example -- what would you suggest? The technology is probably still the same in all monitors, with the difference being the bells, whistles and cost. (I have a bunch of HRMs accumulated over the years; at the moment I use an old Acumin they gave me about 8 or 9 years ago.)
PS If you work for a HRM company, please include that in your response.
Hey Dr. Phil,
Honored to have you post here. Your book Training For Endurance has helped me out immeasurably.
I use two monitors. My main one is a Garmin 305 GPS/HRM unit. It does a fine job of keeping HR as well as distance, splits, and lots more. Lots of memory storage, and comes with training log software. The one I'll use to monitor in races and as a backup is a Polar RS 100. It's a basic watch that keeps the usual lap/splits and has memory for the previous run. This watch is very reliable. The HR readings are solid.
Log PRs Crusted Salt comics #192 (NSFW)
Polar RS100 Heart Rate Monitor
Pros: Simple, and it has a lap button.
Cons: I wish it had a bigger face, to show more numbers and show larger numbers. To conserve space, it uses the same display to show max hr and ave hr, by flashing back and forth every so many seconds.
Summary: If you want something simple, that has a lap button, I would recommend this. I think the lap feature is a must, and is usually not included with the simpler models. If you prefer a GPS feature, or computer down load feature, this is not the HRM for you.
Run until the trail runs out.
The pain that hurts the worse is the imagined pain. One of the most difficult arts of racing is learning to ignore the imagined pain and just live with the present pain (which is always bearable.) - Jeff
Dr. Phil -
Wow! Welcome to this board. Very happy and pleasantly surprised to see that you've learned of us. Thank you very much for all of your efforts to help us become healthier and fitter athletes.
I think I'm one of the few "low tech" holdouts here (don't worry, though, I don't check my HR manually ). I use a Polar FS1 for my standard HRM. It's simple, cheap (under $60), and gets the job done. However, it doesn't have a lot of extra features (not even a lap function). Also, because it's a Polar, I can't change the chest strap battery myself.
For a backup I use an Oregon Scientific model SE 200. It was even cheaper than my Polar (I paid about $30 for it), but it's every bit as accurate and the chest strap battery can be changed at home. The biggest drawback with the Oregon Scientific model is that the watch unit is a little small for a larger-framed person like me. That's the reason I don't wear it all the time.
Someone looking for an affordable, "no frills" HRM, would probably be happy with either of my HRMs. People who are "numbers-driven" and enjoy analyzing lots of data might well find them too basic.
Can't wait for the new Training and Eating For Endurance!
In the words of the late Harry Carey - holy cow! Great to have you here Dr. Phil.
Garmin Forunner 305 here. GPS + HRM in a simple to use system that can alos allow for LHR specific workouts and triggers is great. I have seen many comments here on RA that it is not so good for swimming. I can't verify as I no longer train for tri's. Prior model was a Polar RS200 which was a great HRM which worked well for me on the road and in the pool but did not have the GPS (which is sometihng I wanted so I could run without worrying about mapping routes).
It would be great to have some of your thoughts on our conversations if time permits.
Looking forward to reading your next book.
MTA - I also used a Timex Ironman HRM. This was a very good entry model. Had lots of the functions of the full Ironman line with a nice HRM. It allowed for good zones and it looked great as an everyday watch. The HR strap was a bit bulky but that was four years past and I'm sure the've improved it. There was a GPS option as an armband but that seemed to bulky for me. It was also a low cost around $70 if I recall correctly.
"He conquers who endures" - Persius "Every workout should have a purpose. Every purpose should link back to achieving a training objective." - Spaniel
Beginner all over again
I had a Polar FS1, with the high/low zone alarms.
Now I use a Garmin Forerunner 305 (not for swimming though).
I think the Garmin Forerunner 310X is the model for swimming, but I don't own one.
Both HM seemed to work fine for me. I'm not sure how I would know if they didn't. I don't check my pulse manually ever to see whether it matches my manual reading.
I have been using a Garmin Forerunner 301 with HR monitor in the recent past; for the last few months I have used the Garmin Forerunner 305. I am a runner so my experience does not include swimming or biking with the device.
I love the big display and numbers on the Garmins - being 49 my eyes sometimes have a hard time focusing on small numbers especially while in running motion. The GPS is important to me as I want to know how far I go. The Forerunner 301 did not have a GPS that worked nearly as well as the newer 305. However, I find that the HR monitor works equally well in both.
While performing a MAF test I am always slightly annoyed with the lag time - it takes a little while before the monitor registers the actual HR. This is of course a very spoiled attitude to have - all in all the Garmin Forerunner 305 is a wonderful item. I also enjoy that I can download the data to Running Ahead training log and view MAPs and Graphs of various things that occured throughout the run. The HR graph is a very good visual - it gives a "picture" of how you fared during a run - ups and downs, HR range, peaks, HR drift during long runs etc.
The price of the Garmin Forerunner 305 is not low but on the internet refurbished items are available at lower than suggested retail price.
Previously I have used a Timex Triathlon watch w/HR monitor (women's). The HR monitor worked very well and the strap fit well. I missed the GPS and some of the other features - but it does have lap splits etc.
The HR monitor straps have fit me well (5.3', 110lbs) but in the winter it has occasionally been difficult to get a contact that lasted throughout the run. It is necessary to lubricate the sensor pads before the run when it is cold and one is not sweating much.
Thank you for asking us to help you - you have helped all of us.
Hello Dr Phil,
I discovered you on this forum about 4-5 months ago and I am reading my third book that you have written. All I can say is a big "Thank You".
I have used 3-4 basic Polars over the years and recently bought a Garmin 305. I love it mainly for the gps. I still use an old cateye on my bike. The only issues I've ever had with a Polar are crosstalk in a spinning class and not being able to change out the batteries. If it weren't for the gps function, I'd still be using the basic Polar.
Max McMaffelow Esq.
I'm almost too shy to post in the Dr. Phil HRM Poll.
My weapon of choice would likely be the Garmin 305..fully loaded.
Always nice when royalty pays a visit, King of Aerobics!!
Like many of the others, I use the Garmin 305 heart rate monitor. Only had it a couple of months but have had little problems with it.
Used to use a basic Timex heart rate monitor which worked well--when it worked. A little under a year of receiving it, the heart rate measurement went bad--started showing my heart rate as much higher than reality and would often stick at 240bpm (which I assume is the max bpm display). Sent it in for repair as it was still under warranty. Lasted for about 18 months before it started malfunctioning the same way.
The first was a very inexpensive Polar, I think called "The Beat". On sale it was $35, and it had no bells and whistles - just big digits to read when you looked at it. No buttons, fine for swimming (but no memory...)
The second is a Polar 625X, and its big plus is the IR downloadability to the PC and good software to process all the data. Plenty of memory, but the SW is only for a PC, not a Mac. Comfortable soft chest strap. "Inertial" foot pod for distance works ok for different paces. Mine is a couple years old, they probably have more features now...
Holy Cow! Go away for a while and Dr. Phil is posting. Wow. I have used the Maffetone method to go from a 4 hr, marathoner to a 3 hr. marathoner. Thanks so much! I use the Garmin 305 with a little ultrasound gel on the strap to start out. Rarely have had any problems.
Maybe this will draw Jesse back?