We all want to train to the best of our ability. So how do you take your training to the next level & become the best you can be without getting injured or burning out? Having the right training aids plays a huge part.

A heart rate monitor can be a major factor in stepping up your training. They don’t just measure your heart rate, they can tell you your pace, track your run, allow you to follow runs in unfamiliar places and connect with the running community through apps like Strava & Training Peaks.

Polar have been at the forefront of heart rate monitoring since 1977, catering for all fitness levels through a comprehensive product range alongside essential support and advice. One of our major benefits for runners (and totally unique to Polar) is our Smart Coaching system, which is personalised and designed for maximum motivation.

Smart Coaching lets you assess your day-to-day fitness levels, create individual training plans, work out at the right intensity and receive that all important instant feedback.

Some of Smart Coaching’s main features are:

  • Energy Pointer: This is a simple-to-use feature that visually shows the main effect of your training so you can focus on what you want to achieve.

• Fitness Test: If you’re looking to improve and keep up to date with how well you’re doing, the smart Fitness Test will tell you everything you need to know in five minutes. By regularly comparing your test results you can see what progress you’re making and how you’re improving.

• Training Load: See how your training affects your body and compare the load of different workouts. Continuous monitoring of your training load will help you to recognise your limits and help you adjust your training intensity & duration according to your targets.

• Running Index: Perhaps the most obvious tool to take your runs to the next level, the running index helps you keep on top of your performance. Regular use allows you to see how efficient your running is. Your Running Index score is calculated automatically after every run based on your heart rate and the speed data from your GPS or stride sensor.

We asked Eilish McColgan, GB athlete, double Olympian and Polar Running Ambassador to answer a few questions on how using a Polar monitor has helped her train at a top level.

As a GB athlete and double Olympian how does Polar’s technology help you in your training?

For me, it’s really crucial to make sure I know exactly what pace and distance I’m running every day. I have a strict training programme that I follow and so knowing the exact pace per mile that I’m hitting allows me to monitor my progress and fitness levels. I also spend a lot of months training at altitude so it’s great to know at exactly what height I’m running at; allowing me to adjust my training accordingly depending on the altitude.

How can the ordinary runner benefit from a heart rate monitor?

Many people use sports watches, but their capability can go far beyond speed and distance data.

A heart rate monitor is a great way to make sure you’re not running too hard (or too easy!). It can also be a brilliant tool to show how recovered you are from the day before. I take note of my average HR for every single run – it can show me if I’m feeling a little under the weather, tired or if things are good to go! The best thing about having the HR monitor on the watch strap is that I can check my HR first thing in the morning without having to scramble around to find a chest strap. It’s easy, quick and allows me to adjust my training dependant on what number I see.

What advice would you give to people wanting to move on to the next level in their training – whatever their level?

A lot of runners avoid the track – it’s perhaps seen to be ‘elite’ only but that couldn’t be further from the truth. It may be a little scary as many feel exposed on the track as there’s nowhere to go but it’s one of the best places to increase fitness and speed. Even the top marathon runners in the world will be seen down at a track on a weekly basis. It can be a real indicator of progress – getting exact splits for every lap – giving you a like for like comparison every time you hit the track.

As a running coach yourself, what is the most common piece of advice that you give to people?

My top tip would be to make sure you have a balanced week. Many runners feel they need to run hard every single day but that’s a recipe for disaster. In every week there needs to be scheduled hard session days, easy run days and a day off to recover from all the hard work you’ve put in. The best way (and easiest way!) to monitor things is to have a watch and a training diary. Polar has the technology to do so and the online app to make the process simple.

To win the new Polar M430, keep an eye on the UKRunChat channels, the winner will be announced after the Polar UKRunChat Sponsored Hour on Sunday 23 July.