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The Effect Of Cardiac Drift On Heart-Rate Training

  • By Jeff Gaudette
  • Published Mar. 5, 2012
  • Updated Mar. 6, 2012 at 6:44 PM UTC
In this graph demonstrating cardiac drift, pace remains relatively constant (blue) while the heart rate (red) continually increases.

What can you do about cardiac drift?

Don’t be a slave to your heart-rate monitor numbers. Rather, use your heart rate as a tool to help you learn your efforts and paces and as a guide to help get you started on the right track.

One way to accomplish this is to learn to use breathing rhythm as a way to intuitively assess your intensity. You won’t be perfect with this method at first, so wear the heart-rate monitor and use it the first 10-15 minutes of your run to get on track. Then, cover it up and practice running by feel. Look at the data only after you’re done running and compare your breathing rhythm and the effort you felt to the heart-rate numbers.

RELATED: Should you ditch your GPS watch?

By understanding the underlying concepts behind heart-rate monitors and other training gadgets, you can learn to better listen to your body and apply these tools to help you train smarter in the long-term.

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Jeff Gaudette

Jeff Gaudette

Jeff has been running for 13 years, at all levels of the sport. He was a two time Division-I All-American in Cross Country while at Brown University and competed professionally for 4 years after college for the Hansons-Brooks Distance Project. Jeff's writing has been featured in Running Times magazine, Endurance Magazine, as well as numerous local magazine fitness columns.

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