The only time I remember checking my heart rate during training was when a coach of mine in the late 1960's had the cross country team check their pulses between intervals on the track. As I continued to run through the 70's and 80's, I would check and record my morning pulse before getting out of bed each morning (I still have the log books!). But training for me back then was, and has continued to be, by feel.
Oh, I read about heart rate monitors and training zones but never took the expense nor initiative to determine or use this equipment. A couple years ago, a basic Polar Beat was given to me. I used it briefly to see how it worked but then put it in a drawer. Since last year, I've been reading Lucho's blog and his discussions in comments with other readers and recently listening to his podcasts on Endurance Planet. I have become most curious about what's going on with my heart rate and how accurate my perceived exertion has been.
While taking care of errands this morning, I had the battery replaced in my Polar and took to the trails as soon as I got home. What an interesting run....I walked, then ran, then slowed down, then forced the pace, then slowed down, then walked...all the while paying close attention to what happened to my pulse rate and how I felt. I hadn't had this much fun while running for quite some time and nearly forgot about any pain in my knees.
I'm surprised how fast the pulse drops back below 100 when I switch from run to hike. I was also encouraged by how relaxed it felt when holding the rate between 135 - 140. I guess I should get out and use the monitor in a test situation to help determine my specific zones. A good project for this weekend!