Training to heart rate zones can play an important role in race training of any distance. Focusing not just on time splits but on becoming more in tune with our bodies to increase fitness levels and gain a deeper understanding of when to push ourselves harder and when we need to rest and recover.
So it piqued our interest when last week, LDN Brunch Club were invited by JBL and Under Armour to trial their jointly developed sports headphones with heart rate measurement. Familiar with the usual methods of heart rate monitoring – cumbersome chest straps or fitness watches – we were intrigued to test out this latest tech from JBL to see how it would compare.
The technology uses the blood flow to the ear to measure your heart rate and claims to be as accurate as a wrist watch. Although notably both methods are still believed to be around 30% less accurate than chest straps, arguably it’s one less piece of equipment to be worrying about during a training run or race – and a damn sight more comfortable.
To trial the JBL and Under Armour sports headphones, we were put through our paces swinging kettle bells, busting out burpees and smashing through sprints in a HIIT class, hosted at the great new Ministry does Fitness gym. The class consisted of two rounds, to work us in different heart rate zones – firstly in zone 1 (around 70% effort) and then up to zone 3 (90%) for second round.
The Bluetooth tech meant that phones could be left to one side, whilst Under Armour’s versatile fitness dashboard tracked our progress throughout – time, calories burned and the all-important heart rate. The results were a reminder why heart rate training is such a useful tool for understanding your fitness levels, as our 70%-90% ratio would’ve been somewhat out if not for a little voice in our ear keeping us regularly informed of our heart rate. The headphones have a touch control on the earpiece so you can just tap for on demand heart rate.
Back on the road, we’ve still got a lot of miles to rack up between now and London Marathon day. So outside of our social runs, we’ll be making the most of the headphones great audio as we bust out a summer playlist (if the weather holds out!) to see us through some long solo runs.