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  • Writer's pictureTim Bradley, Sr. Director of Training/Interim Executive Dir.

Ask Coach Bradley: Using Watch Stats To Track Training

Whether you are part of our CARA training programs, working towards your next 5k PR, or a beginning runner CARA Training Director Tim Bradley is here to answer your training questions!

Q: I’ve recently upgraded to a new running watch that provides a variety of training statistics. What are some of the key numbers, besides miles per week, that I should focus on when tracking my training?

A: Running watch technology has certainly come a long way in the last few years and now there are more devices tracking more data than ever before. However, understanding that data and knowing which key numbers to focus on to effectively track your training can still be a challenge. Generally, you want to try to get it down to a few key numbers that really reflect how your fitness is progressing.

Average Training Heart Rate: This number is a good indication of how hard you are working on each training run. You generally want this number to be steady and consistent. If it drops below 60% of your max heart rate, you will want to consider running at a faster pace or going for longer runs. If you find yourself constantly maxing out and your heart rate peaking quickly into a run, you will want to slow down your training pace or go for shorter runs.

Resting Heart Rate: This number you actually want to see trend downward, meaning your heart’s stroke volume is improving and it takes fewer beats per minute to pump blood throughout your body when at rest. Typically for trained athletes, this number can be in the low 50s to mid-40s. For elites, it can even get into the 30s. Lower is better for this stat.

VO2 Max: While the accuracy of this stat can vary depending on the device and formula used, this key stat represents the maximum amount of oxygen your body can use while running. You will want to see this number trend upward over time. Average runners tend to be in the 50s and low 60s, Elites are generally in the upper 60s to 70+ range.

Average Pace Per Mile: If you are looking to improve your time over any distance you will want to see this number trend down slightly over time, meaning you are getting faster and taking less time to cover each mile. However, faster does not always mean better and at some point, you will want to keep this number relatively steady depending on your training goals and where you are at in your schedule.

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