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Thread: Heart Monitor ?

  1. #1
    Moderator Peakbagr's Avatar
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    Heart Monitor ?

    I've been considering one for years but paralysis by analysis has kept me from going ahead.

    I know Polar has a good reputation but the profusion of models is confusing.
    An acquaintance who uses a monitor regularly like's Polar's reliability and the models with large displays. Said he doesn't care for the inability to replace the chest strap battery and that he replaces his every 3 years or so.

    I'd like one with a large dial, that can display heart rate and average heart rate during the workout. Not particularly interested in calories burned, but one that calculates my target rate and range would be very nice.
    Can I also get one with a turn-on, turn-off pace beeper?

    I'd like to use the monitor biking and hiking and since this is my first one, would rather keep the cost $125 or under.

    (some of the features of various models on the Polar site are shown, but once past the basic models, its hard to tell what the screens look like beyond whats shown on their website).

    Probably a lot of users here and would appreciate your advice.
    "The fact that going off the deep end appears
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  2. #2
    Banned Kevin Rooney's Avatar
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    Well ... I'll play devil's advocate and ask "Why complicate otherwise enjoyable activities with a gadget?"?

  3. #3
    Moderator Peakbagr's Avatar
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    With back and knee injuries, my career as a runner ended a few years ago.
    Transitioning to cycling has been a challenge.
    During a traiing run or race, I used to tell me how I was doing with exertion levels. Much less so with cycling or gym cycling.

    I find I get distracted on the bike, and I'm hoping a monitor might help keep me focused. Throwing it in for hiking was another idea. I find its easier for me to push the pace uphill, but it would be nice to keep the pulse elevated to a zone I set and stay there for a few hours instead of yo-yoing.
    ( no comment please about my resemblance to a yo-yo)
    "The fact that going off the deep end appears
    to be a requisite to doing anything of consequence
    in this life has not escaped me." Jim Harrison

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    Senior Member Tom Rankin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Peakbagr View Post
    With back and knee injuries, my career as a runner ended a few years ago.
    Transitioning to cycling has been a challenge.
    During a traiing run or race, I used to tell me how I was doing with exertion levels. Much less so with cycling or gym cycling.

    I find I get distracted on the bike, and I'm hoping a monitor might help keep me focused. Throwing it in for hiking was another idea. I find its easier for me to push the pace uphill, but it would be nice to keep the pulse elevated to a zone I set and stay there for a few hours instead of yo-yoing.
    ( no comment please about my resemblance to a yo-yo)
    Alan, I could let you borrow mine. Talk to me offline.
    Tom Rankin
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  5. #5
    Moderator bikehikeskifish's Avatar
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    I only have experience with Polar, and only older ones. What you get depends on what specific uses you have for it. When I was racing it was helpful for me and my coach to plan workouts and determine effort levels, and recovery times and all that. Most importantly, it was helpful on recovery and/or easy days to make sure I did not go too hard.

    If you aren't a competitive athlete, it is really only an amusement or a distraction which is why I stopped using mine when I was no longer racing.

    That said, I like Polar as a brand, but agree that the non-replaceable battery is a con.

    Tim
    Bike, Hike, Ski, Sleep. Eat, Fish, Repeat.

  6. #6
    Senior Member DougPaul's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Peakbagr View Post
    Said he doesn't care for the inability to replace the chest strap battery and that he replaces his every 3 years or so.
    Polar makes models that allow the user to replace the chest strap battery. (Unfortunately, I don't know which they are off hand--I picked mine up at an REI garage sale. It may be limited to the more expensive models...)

    I find just a simple current heart-rate display to be adequate for my needs.

    I use mine biking. Pretty boring--I've learned to estimate my heart rate fairly accurately from how I feel. Sometimes when I get back from a ride, I realize that I hadn't even looked at it. I took it hiking once and found it so much more boring that I've never felt tempted to take it hiking again--I already knew how to pace myself.

    There is an old thread on the topic which may be useful: http://www.vftt.org/forums/showthread.php?t=32867


    EDIT: looks like the Polar FT4 has a user-replaceable chest strap battery. http://www.rei.com/product/794741 (Info from a customer review of the FT1.) Look at the strap image for the FT1 http://www.rei.com/product/806916 and look at the strap image for the FT4--the FT1 is sealed, the FT4 is user replaceable.

    Doug
    Last edited by DougPaul; 09-16-2010 at 01:54 PM.

  7. #7
    Senior Member Tom Rankin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bikehikeskifish View Post
    If you aren't a competitive athlete, it is really only an amusement or a distraction which is why I stopped using mine when I was no longer racing.
    As someone who has Tachycardia, I have to be careful not to let my heart rate get too fast. My heart rate will go up exponentially if I push myself too hard. The monitor allows me to stay below the point where the exponential take off begins.
    Tom Rankin
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  8. #8
    Moderator bikehikeskifish's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Rankin View Post
    As someone who has Tachycardia, I have to be careful not to let my heart rate get too fast. My heart rate will go up exponentially if I push myself too hard. The monitor allows me to stay below the point where the exponential take off begins.
    Oh all right... that's a good reason too

    Let me amend my previous statement - you don't need to be a competitive athlete, per se, but without specific training goals, I found a HRM is of marginal use.

    I have also found the best way to keep motivated is to ride with a group.

    Tim
    Last edited by bikehikeskifish; 09-16-2010 at 06:11 PM.
    Bike, Hike, Ski, Sleep. Eat, Fish, Repeat.

  9. #9
    Senior Member J.Dub's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Peakbagr View Post
    I find I get distracted on the bike, and I'm hoping a monitor might help keep me focused.
    My Sunnto HRM crapped the bed about a month ago. Running without it in the weeks since, I've found that, even though I *think* I'm running at my usual pace, I'm in fact going slower. I really need the HR data to keep me honest.

    Now I'm debating on what to get as a replacement. Was leaning toward the Polars, but the lack of user-replaceable batteries is pretty weak sauce, IMO. Will probably end up getting something used and/or cheap on ePay or craigslist.
    "Do not taunt Happy Fun Ball."

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  10. #10
    Senior Member SAR-EMT40's Avatar
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    Peakbagr, I have some of the polars and liked them. Currently, I am using a Garmin 305. A little more expensive than what you might be wanting to spend but for me it was worth it. I would check it out because it has a lot of the things you are looking for. I really like this device. If you have any specific questions don't hesitate to ask.

    Keith
    "The real work of men was hunting meat. The invention of agriculture was a giant step in the wrong direction, leading to serfdom, cities, and empire. From a race of hunters, artists, warriors, and tamers of horses, we degraded ourselves to what we are now: clerks, functionaries, laborers, entertainers, processors of information."- Ed Abbey

  11. #11
    Senior Member JoeCedar's Avatar
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    Alan, here's an alternative to consider for climbing:

    For several years I have been using the Suunto altimeter ascent/descent rate function, in ft/min or m/min, as an indirect measure of cardiovascular output. They don't say exactly, but it seems to average climbing rate over two or three minutes.

    If the terrain is steeper I just look at the climbing rate and adjust output up or down as needed. This way, I don't unintentionally overexert and have to stop to catch my breath. When it is flatter, I adjust my pace or stride upward to keep the ft/min in my desired zone which I can maintain for long periods without stopping.

    Happily, *so far*, as I get older, my sustained climbing rate zone has increased (I won't say what it is, but it is greater than 30 ft/min).

  12. #12
    Moderator Peakbagr's Avatar
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    Joe,

    Good alternative and idea.

    Your resting pace would put me into cardiac arrest.
    "The fact that going off the deep end appears
    to be a requisite to doing anything of consequence
    in this life has not escaped me." Jim Harrison

  13. #13
    Moderator bikehikeskifish's Avatar
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    As another data point, most competitive cyclists are now using power instead of HR or in conjunction with it. Maybe it's just a ploy to sell more PowerTap wheel hubs.


    Tim
    Bike, Hike, Ski, Sleep. Eat, Fish, Repeat.

  14. #14
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    I would (strongly) recommend getting a polar with the "wearlink" chest strap over the plastic one. It will be much more comfortable. I don't think I would want to hike with the plastic kind personally. Once you are in the wearlink models, you are in the mid price range, which will be under $125 still, and they are likely to have the features you want + tons you don't need.

    I have only shopped/bought a polar HR a few times, but this is a market that is hyper competitive for price, so great deals can be had if you look around. Nashbar/performance bike are usually good, but other online dealers may be a quite a bit less. Don't pay anything near full price.

  15. #15
    Senior Member Snowflea's Avatar
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    Years ago I purchased a Polar HR monitor to aid in "training" but ended up using it only a handful of times. Mostly I got mad at the stupid gadget because I had a hard time getting my HR up. (Too many years of long, slow stuff and not enough speed work?) Finally gave it away and have been happily low tech ever since.

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