Skip to main content

Digital Trends may earn a commission when you buy through links on our site. Why trust us?

Workout data from Polar shows we should work smarter, not harder

Image used with permission by copyright holder

Fitness wearable manufacturer Polar has taken an exhaustive look at the workout data collected from active users of its devices and has discovered some very interesting findings. The study, which examines data collected from 45 million runs that took place between April 2017 and March 2018, indicates that even serious runners can see significant fitness gains by focusing on a heart rate-based training regimen. In fact, they can potentially lower their race times significantly without increasing their training time or intensity.

When defining the scope of this study, Polar created what it calls the Running Index, which tracks an athlete’s heart rate versus their speed in order determine just how effectively they are training. Those who can run at a faster pace, while maintaining a lower heart rate, will score better on the Running Index, indicating a higher level of fitness and VO2 max, which is often used as an indicator of cardiovascular efficiency.

Polar also broke down the athletes that were part of the study into three categories — ambitious, regular, and intensive. Those in the ambitious group were pro level runners who workout for nine or more hours in a given week. Meanwhile, those categorized as regular tended to run on average about four hours per week, while intensive runners also worked out about four hours a week, but did so at a faster pace. On average, the intense runners ran a minute faster per mile than those in the regular group. Each of the three types of runners spent different amounts of time in various cardio intensity zones, giving them each their own unique VO2 max profile.

When analyzing the data, researchers discovered that although the intensive runners were faster than their regular counterparts, they weren’t necessarily fitter. In fact, when using the Running Index as a basis for comparison, the regular runners achieved a score of 50, while the intensive group managed a score of 46. The takeaway here is that while both groups train the same number of hours, the regular runners spent more time in an efficient cardio zone — even at a slower pace — while the intensive group pushed themselves harder. That didn’t result in higher levels of cardio fitness, however, resulting in a lower Running Index score. For reference sake, the ambitious group of runners scored a 54 on the Running Index, unsurprisingly indicating that they are the most fit of all.

Polar Running Program | Get Started

Athletes who use Polar wearables are also able to take part in the Polar Running Program, which helps them create a personal training regimen that is built specifically to meet their individual needs. Those who used this system became significantly more efficient runners as a result. The research data indicates that those who used the Polar Running Program saw impressive gains when training for, and competing in, races. So much so that 5k and 10k runners shaved more than six minutes off their times, while half-marathon runners improved by 23 minutes and full marathoners cut 45 minutes from their pace.

Polar credits these gains to athletes understanding how to race and train in the proper heart rate zone, which the company’s device can help runners measure and understand better. Some of those devices can even provide real-time feedback during a run to alert users when they are pushing themselves too hard or not hard enough.

To find out more about this research study, check out a recent post on the company’s blog.

Testing deeplink without true affiliate network connection

Testing deeplink with true affiliate network connection

Testing CC Placement 

Editors' Recommendations

Kraig Becker
Kraig Becker is a freelance outdoor writer who loves to hike, camp, mountain bike, trail run, paddle, or just about any other…
I was wrong. E-bikes are so practical, they’re a transit cheat code
An Aventon Level 2 ebike sits outside a grocery store.

Confession: Despite loving both bikes and gadgets, e-bikes never excited me. Compared to my bicycle, e-bikes seemed unfair. Compared to my motorcycle, they seemed slow. Compared to my car, they seemed impractical.

But with $1,500 federal e-bike rebates potentially on the horizon at part of E-Bike Act, I decided it was past time to reconsider. Not just because 30% off would make them way more accessible, but because the entire idea that e-bikes could be worthy of a rebate changed the way I looked at them: less as toys, more as transit. Had I written off an entire way of getting around because I was looking at it the wrong way?

Read more
Upway launches one of the best marketplaces for certified e-bikes, new or not
Man holding ebike from Upway in a field, lifestyle image.

This content was produced in partnership with Upway.
It wasn't too long ago that e-bikes were a rare sight, but all of that has changed, and rightfully so. Electric bikes are all over the road these days, and there are many brands either venturing into the technology, to launch their own versions of the sustainable transportation option or reiterating existing and traditional designs. From Aventon to Schwinn, or RadPower to Momentum, with so many opportunities, the prevailing question is, where do you go to find the best deals and the best information about these brands and their e-bike models? The answer is Upway, the number one certified electric bike provider and an official partner to many of the aforementioned brands.

What is Upway, exactly? It's a marketplace, specializing in e-bikes, featuring an inventory that's sourced from some of the best brands in the world. There are American brands -- like Specialized, Cannondale, and RadPower -- and European brands -- like Riese, Muller, and VanMoof. The best part is the discounts, offering up to 60% off retail, for a plethora of brands. Upway is on a mission to make sustainable mobility affordable for everyone. It's also one of the best places to go for a new or pre-owned e-bike, and here's why:

Read more
EcoFlow launches Delta 2 Max solar generator for home emergencies and outdoor adventures
ecoflow's delta max portable power station on a table

EcoFlow, a manufacturer of portable energy solutions, has announced the launch of the Delta 2 Max -- an eco-friendly solar generator that could replace your current gas generator. The device clocks in at 2,048 watts and should deliver enough power to keep your home running for two days as an emergency backup (or many more if you’re using it as an off-grid power source).

The original Delta Max was a popular item for outdoor adventures, as it could connect to the existing lineup of portable EcoFlow solar panels to juice up gadgets while out in the backcountry. That legacy continues with the Delta 2 Max, which features an upgraded lithium iron phosphate (LFP) battery for a longer life cycle and faster charging.

Read more