Monitoring your resting heart rate over time can give an indication of your recovery after training. As you become more fit your heart rate in rest will most often get lower.
During my years of marathon training I found out that this rest pulse can vary a lot. All dependent on how well I was trained, whether I trained too much (over-trained state) or was suffering from a flu.
My resting pulse nowadays varies between 45 and 55 beats per minute.
In the past, before I started training for marathons, I clocked around 60 beats per minute. With both your resting heart rate as well as your maximum heart rate you can determine your optimal heart rate zones.
When And How To Measure
In my opinion you should measure your resting heart rate
in the morning, directly after waking up and still in bed.
Make sure to avoid any psychological or emotional stress that would influence your heart rate.
Use your heart rate monitor (if you have one) every day and check your average pulse over a time frame of at least two minutes, preferably a bit longer. Make notes of your results so that you can always look back. After one or two weeks you will establish your baseline.
In about 6 to 12 months you will learn a lot about your resting heart rate: the level when you are rested, over-trained, not completely feeling well or just being excited for something.
Resting Pulse And Over-Training
If your heart rate when you wake up in the morning, is more than 5 to 10 beats per minute higher than usual, this may be a sign of inadequate recovery or (upcoming) illness. Take an easy day if your pulse is around three to five beats higher than normal. My advice is to take the day off from running if your pulse is 10 or more beats higher than normal.
Healthy Heart Rate In Rest
It is quite difficult to say what’s an healthy heart rate in rest. If you doubt about you heart rate, whether it is in rest or while doing your exercise, always consult with your doctor.
To give some guidance, untrained people vary mostly between 60 and 100. Women tend to have an higher pulse than men.
On the other hand, trained people can vary a lot as well. Some marathon runners will have a resting pulse of 75 and others as low as 35, partly because of genetics. If you are very trained
and your pulse is below 40 I would also recommend to consult with your doctor. A very low pulse can cause some health problems as well.
Heart Rate Monitor Books
Are you really into heart rate monitor training and want to get in-depth advice on training with such a device? I would suggest to read Heart Rate Training written by Roy Benson and Heart Monitor Training for the Compleat Idiot written by John Parker. The last book is oriented at runners and the first one is useful for anyone serious about sports.