You’ve been rocking your workouts – going hard, going strong – and tracking everything with a heart rate monitor. Of course, we hope you’ve been using a TICKR X heart rate monitor along with our RunFit app. (Insert winky face here) After all, when combined these awesome devices keep track of your personal records for you, including your heart rate, cadence, calorie burn, reps and more. Because that’s so much easier than writing it all down! Seriously.
Either way, nice work! You’re awesome!
But now what? What do you do with all the workout data you just collected?
Here are some ways to analyze that info and take your fitness to the next level.
What it is: The number of heartbeats per minute (BPM).
Why it matters and how to use it: Monitoring your heart rate is a great way to measure the effectiveness of your workout and get an accurate calorie burn. Your BPM helps you determine if you’re working out at your highest potential or if you should push it more. It also allows you to easily switch up cardio exercises. From an aerobic perspective, as long as your heart rate is in the same zone, the type of workout doesn’t matter. Running, cycling, hiking, dancing swimming, etc. – your heart gets the same benefits. In addition, by monitoring your heart rate you can prevent overtraining. If you notice your heart rate is higher at the beginning of your workout than normal, you should consider taking a rest day since this is usually an indication you’re on your way to burnout.
What it is: The number of calories burned.
Why it matters and how to use it: If you’re looking to lose weight, keeping track of calories is a critical component to your success. We all burn a certain amount of calories per day simply by being alive. This is known as our Base Metabolic Rate, which you can calculate here. From there, you can figure out your daily caloric needs by taking into consideration your activity level. That number is the number of calories you need to consume daily to maintain your current weight. In order to lose one pound, you need to have a calorie deficit of 500 calories/day (3,500 calories/week). And exercise can help get you to that deficit faster than dieting alone – and it is vital for weight maintenance. Having an accurate calorie burn number is important to losing weight since an extra 100 or 200 calories a week could be detrimental to your goal. Alternatively, if you’re trying to gain weight (or maintain), knowing you calorie burn can help ensure you’re refueling properly.
What it is: The number of miles or kilometers you ran in a given day, week.
Why it matters and how to use it: One of the top causes of injuries in runners is doing too much too soon. Keeping track of the total number of miles you ran in a week can help keep you injury-free. If you’re a relatively healthy runner, you should increase your weekly distance by no more than 10 percent each week and have a cutback week (a week where you don’t increase distance) every fourth week. For example, if in week one you ran 20 miles, then in week two you should top out at 22 miles. The following week, week three, you can hit 24 miles before taking a cutback week the fourth week. In week five, you can move up to 26 miles. Injury-prone runners should be even more conservative with their weekly increases, staying at around a five percent increase.
What it is: The length of your workout on a given day, week.
Why it matters and how to use it: The total amount of time you spend a week exercising matters and can have a high impact on your health. The CDC recommends aiming for at least 150 minutes (2.5 hours) a week of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes (1 hour 15 minutes) a week of vigorous activity for optimal health. These benefits increase even more if you ramp that cardio up to 300 minutes (5 hours) a week – especially if you’re trying to lose weight. For strength training, the recommendation is to complete a strength workout at least twice a week (there are no guidelines on time).
What it is: The speed at which you run a mile.
Why it matters and how to use it: If you’re trying to improve as a runner, you don’t want to be running all your runs at the same pace. This can cause injury and burnout, and it can prevent you from improving. Ideally, your running week should have easy days where you run at a conversational pace; tempo runs where you increase your pace to a comfortable-hard level; and speedwork days where you do intervals and really push the speed. Paces vary greatly by person, so beginners are encouraged to run by effort until they become familiar with their different speeds.
What it is: The number of steps you take per minute (SPM) on a run.
Why it matters and how to use it: We have an entire article dedicated to cadence, but in a nutshell, increasing your cadence will make you a faster, less-injury prone runner. While the ideal number varies from runner to runner, a cadence around 175-180 is a good estimate (though we recommend you find your exact number here).
What it is: A measure of running form – combining your body motion and impact shocks.
Why it matters and how to use it: On average, runners have a running smoothness index of 100. If your form is smoother, your running smoothness index will be higher. If your form is not quite as smooth, your running smoothness index will be lower. Better runners are smoother runners. They reduce the chance of injury by lowering their impact shock.
REPETITIONS (strength-training data)
What it is: This data is specific to your strength-training workouts and it shows your personal record for a given exercise.
Why it matters and how to use it: By knowing your previous number of repetitions for a workout, you’re better able to gauge how much your fitness level has improved. This also allows you to plan your next workout better and to set attainable goals, all critical for staying motivated.
Individuals who track their fitness are more likely to keep up with a workout routine, lose weight, stay healthy long term and prevent injuries. After all, it’s motivating to see everything you’ve accomplished!