Tips on using your HRM & GPS- Hill repeats

In the last few years more and more first time triathletes are using Heart Rate Monitors and GPS devices. These can be fantastic training tools, provide motivation and help track your progress. You can maximize your training time and get the best workout for you during your phase of training.  Additionally they can help reduce your chance of injury and over training.


Tips on using your HRM & GPS:

  • Use it! Yes put it on and press start. You will not get any benefits if it’s on the charger or still in the box because “you don’t know how to use it”. When I get a new watch I wear it all the time. Use it as a kitchen timer. Time your commute to work. Check your heart rate when you wake up.
  • Start with setting up the up the basics. Set time, date, personal info etc.
  • Pick one feature at a time to set up. The 100 page online instruction manual is overwhelming.  Keep it simple! Find out how to set up and view heart rate. Then how to use stop watch and lap timer. Next GPS for distance. Move on to setting up pace and speed options. Pace= minutes per mile running. Speed= miles per hour on the bike.


Hill Repeats with your HRM & GPS

Start the stop watch when you start to climb. Press lap timer at top. Press lap timer when you get to the bottom. Press lap timer when you begin next climb. This will show you climbing time, descending time and recovery time. All are important pieces of information.

Variations on hill repeats:

  • First climb easy, last climb fast. Push a little harder each climb and reduce how long it takes to get to the top each time.
  • Set time for climb- climbs can vary from 30 seconds to 30 minutes or more. Measure how far up the hill you go in a set time. Repeat and try to go a little farther up the hill.**Important- Do not go to failure. Repeatedly going to failure can increase your chance of injury. Always stop when you can complete 1-2 more full climbs. Over time gradually increase total climbs you complete.


The information I look for:

  • Lap time- How long did it take to get to the top? Using lap timer you can learn to pace yourself and tell when you are approaching failure. (your times will get slower)
  • Average heart rate- Compare this to how long it takes to complete each climb. This will help you determine the best effort for you to climb at. This will vary on grade and distance.
  • Peak heart rate- what did you top out at? **Note- You do not need to max out every time! Peak heart rate is the highest HR for that specific interval or activity. Max heart rate is your heart and body’s highest physical limit. True testing of Max heart rate should only be done with professional supervision. By learning controlling HR you can increase endurance.
  • RPE- Rate of perceived exertion. This is not available on your HRM but is a very valuable measurement. How hard or difficult did that climb feel? When in doubt, always fall back on RPE.


Ultimately you am looking for your optimum heart and effort is to best climb a set distance or time. Pay attention to changes over time. This will help you get stronger faster!   Train smart!


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