Heart rate monitors are invaluable tools for athletes training in any sport that requires intensive cardiovascular conditioning. That includes outdoor sports, such as trail-running or open water swimming. There are plenty of makes and models of heart rate monitors out there, but for serious athletes in need of useful, extra features, three brand names come out on top: Garmin, Polar and Suunto.
The F11 is a good example of a versatile heart rate monitor for general fitness. After providing your maximum heart rate, it will then read back your pulse as either a percentage of the maximum or in beats per minute. You can program in both target zones and set alarms to notify you when you are changing heart rate zones. It also will indicate average heart rate and maximum heart rate for each workout. The monitor can record data from up to 12 workouts for cross-comparison purposes. It also has a calorie counter and is waterproof, so you can take it into the pool.
Garmin Forerunner 301
This monitor from Garmin comes with sport modes. This allows you to switch between pre-configured workout monitoring schemes with the push of a button. The three modes available are running, biking and other, making this a good cross-training unit or suitable for triathletes. There are two features useful for making sure you keep a set pace. One is a pace alarm, which goes off if you slow down. The other is a pace timer, which stops the clock if you slow down. It is GPS-enabled, so it can monitor distance traveled and real speed using GPS-based data. Consequently, there also is a distance-traveled alarm. The unit even has a "virtual partner," or a digital profile, that you can train against. Among the more mundane features is a calorie counter.
The t3c is a good example of the flexible Suunto product line. It comes with a stop watch and interval timer. It shows the usual heart rate data in terms of zones and beats per minute, but it also shows average heart rate and calories burned, which are updated in real time. It can operate in a temperature range from -5 to 140 degrees Fahrenheit, making it good for training in snowy winter conditions or scorching deserts. Keep in mind that it will need to be pretty cold for a monitor to reach -5 when it is on your wrist and under your outer layer of clothing. It is also waterproof and can be taken into the pool.
Article Written By Edwin Thomas
Edwin Thomas has been writing since 1997. His work has appeared in various online publications, including The Black Table, Proboxing-Fans and others. A travel blogger, editor and writer, Thomas has traveled from Argentina to Vietnam in pursuit of stories. He holds a Master of Arts in international affairs from American University.