Training by heart rate has been popular since the late 1990s but I have to stress that running with heart rate monitor is not a thing of the past. This article aims to:

  • Explain why you should run with heart rate monitor
  • Calculate your heart rate should be when running
  • Recommend best heart rate monitors for running

Why you should measure your heart rate when running

Running with heart rate monitor

Prevent you from running too fast

Many people when running try to run as fast as they can, but they don’t know that running too fast may put you at risk of injury and burnout. If you have a fast resting heart rate, when running too fast you may even feel dizzy, out of breath or lightheaded, or even puke. Measuring your heart rate helps prevent you from that risk. The heart rate monitor sends data continuously so you will know when you are about to exceed your maximum allowed heart rate to slow down your speed.

Keep you stay in your lactic threshold

Even when you don’t have any issues with running fast, a heart rate monitor helps you train yourself more efficiently. You already know what happen when you run, right? Your body breaks down sugars to fuel the muscles, which produces lactic acid. Lactic acid then will be recycled back into energy and expels the waste products. Some people might mistake that the faster you run, the more lactic acid is produced. It turns out that lactic acid production will slowly increase when you keep running faster. Knowing your lactic threshold by using a heart rate monitor helps you exercise much better.

Let you take deep breath when running

When running, it’s best if you breathe through your mouth and do “belly breathing”. Because you need to feed your muscles an amount of oxygen. An easy recovery run increases blood flow, helps deliver fresh oxygen and nutrients to your body. A 3:3 rhythm (three steps – one with your left, one with your right, one with your left – while breathing in) works best for warm-ups and most easy paced days. This allows plenty of oxygen to be inhaled through the lungs, processed, and then exhaled with relative ease. But if you run too fast, you can’t match your steps to this breathing tempo.

What your heart rate should be when running

calculate heart rate when running
According to the American Heart Association, your target heart rate zone is when your exercise heart rate is 50-85% of your maximum heart rate and you are advised to run at 60-70% of your maximum heart rate.
Calculate your heart rate when running:



Best heart rate monitor for running

Best heart rate monitor for running
There are plenty of heart rate monitors in the market for running activities. Here is the checklist you should consider for choosing one:

  • Continuous heart rate monitor: Built-in heart rate monitor or used with a chest strap
  • GPS: Track your steps and distance by GPS or accelerometer. When you run you may need GPS for finding route or let your family know where you are.
  • Other advanced functions for running: set up your lactic threshold, your maximum heart rate, etc…
  • On budget: the more functions, the higher the price. Knowing your budget will help you decide more easily

Cheap heart rate monitor for running

Polar H7

A chest strap that you wear under your chest. Simple but accurate.

Garmin Premium Chest strap

Similarly to Polar H7 but better waterproof.

Polar FT4

Chest strap included wristwatch receiver. Tracks your calories burned

Most accurate heart rate monitor, used with chest strap

Polar M400

This sports watch is often recommended as the best for its price.

  • Built-in GPS: Tracks steps, calories and your runs through GPS
  • Running cadence to improve your running efficiency and avoid injuries in all weather conditions
  • Can be used with Polar H7 chest strap

Suunto Ambit3 Run GPS with HR

  • Plan out your full route through navigation assistance
  • Check your recovery status

Garmin Forerunner 630

  • Get stats for cadence, vertical oscillation, stride length and ground contact time
  • Uses heart rate data to learn your lactate threshold


Running GPS heart rate monitor

Apple watch the series 2

Built in GPS & Waterproof

Tomtom Spark 3

It includes a compass which means you combine with the onboard GPS to enable route tracking. It works with GPX files, which you can upload to the watch and view routes to make sure you don’t get lost out on your running adventures

Polar M600

  • Personalized training guidance to reach your fitness goals
  • Built-in GPS Technology keeps track of your pace, distance and altitude
  • Smart coaching: running index, Sport profiles, hr zones, training benefit


Running watch heart rate monitor

Moto 360 Sport

Silicon case and band and features an AnyLight LCD touchscreen to swipe through and easily view your stats in the bright outdoors or at night. Motorola’s Moto Body app is also surprisingly well designed, making your data easy to digest on the move.

Garmin Forerunner 235

Built-in heart rate monitoring. GPS and GLONASS satellites for a quick location fix while a built-in accelerometer takes care of distance and pace when you’re running on an indoor track or treadmill.

Garmin Vivo active HR GPS smartwatch

Built-in heart rate monitor. Monitor your progress against aerobic activity goals. GPS smartwatch with a sunlight-readable, high-resolution color touchscreen

Fitbit Blaze

Enable connected GPS to map your routes and see run stats like pace and duration on display. Track steps, distance, calories burned, floors climbed and active minutes.


If running is your favorite training activity, make it more efficient by using high-tech heart rate monitor devices. Same time running but better results, why not try? And to choose a suitable heart rate monitor, first define your budget for it and look again the list I made above. If you are still considering, please comment so we can discuss further.