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Articles > Want speed? Slow down!


Page 1 2 3 Training slow has always been considered a sign of weakness or laziness. However, if you want to run, bike, or swim faster, a successful and intelligent approach is to slow down! Along the way, you'll get healthier, prevent injury and burn more body fat too.

Traditionally, it is thought that only anaerobic training - speed work - builds speed. However, developing the aerobic system first, before attempting hard work, is ideal: you get faster without the wear and tear - and injury - that often accompanies anaerobic training. Using a heart rate monitor, a basic biofeedback device, makes it even easier.

Heart Rate Monitoring

Despite the boom in heart monitor use by athletes, it is still a misunderstood training companion. While many athletes use these devices, they often don't get their money's worth from them. Today's monitors are simple to operate, and are a valuable tool for developing the most important aspect of training - aerobic speed.

Heart rate monitors are really just simple biofeedback units. But without interpretation of the data they provide - heart rate changes - their true benefits cannot be realized. Dorland's Medical Dictionary defines biofeedback as "the process of providing visual or auditory evidence to a person of the status of body function so that you may exert control over that function." In practical terms, using a heart monitor to control workout pace can help build aerobic speed, improve overall health and burn more body fat.

As a student in the 1970s, I was involved in a biofeedback research project that measured heart rate changes in humans subjected to various physiological inputs, including running. Once in clinical practice, it became evident that using the heart rate to objectively measure aerobic function was extremely useful. This began a long process of clinical research (which continues today), and the development of techniques that help improve human performance on all levels.

By the early 1980s, all the athletes I trained used heart monitors. These were cumbersome but accurate, and unlike today's monitors were large, bulky and not made for athletes but cardiac and other inactive patients. (While more user-friendly, modern monitors still use old technology.)

Working with beginner to professional athletes in all sports, I developed applications for heart monitor use in three key areas: 1) training, 2) self-assessment and 3) competition.

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