Why I quit the Polar training programme

Me at the finish line of my first half marathon (Hella Halbmarathon Hamburg, 01.07.2018)

So, as you might remember, I started off training for my half marathon with the training app by my Polar watch – simply because I had no clue how to start and how to get all of this going.

They already stated at the start it´s nothing for total newbies, but I happily ignored that “warning” and started using it. And at the beginning I thought it was all my fault – I was running in a too high heart rate, and keeping myself in the heart rate zones advised made me walk. And even then I still spent too much time in higher heart rate zones than intended. So yes, I walked a lot. Basically I did more walking than I did running, or anything related.

And I saw…no progress. The programme kept telling me that I got too little stars (they give you stars for how well your training goes also heartrate wise) and had to repeat the week´s exercises. So basically I kept turning in circles and kept repeating and repeating the same things always.

I started wondering: why? This is not bringing me anywhere. I didn´t get to run much, my heartrate didn´t improve, my speed and my distance didn´t improve. Just one thing changed: I was upset and frustrated with myself and everything.

So after 2,5 months in, I started to get a bit of distance between me and this programme and simply added a few more heart rate points on top of theirs as something to work with for myself. And there I was, I was actually running. Not walking anymore. And I saw more and more progress.

And then, the cut – it was made not even noticing it. With my injury and my 2.5 months without running, I dropped the training programme. Instead I started to be reading even more about training and preparing for the half marathon, and decided one thing: to trust my gut feeling. To simply trust the signals my body is sending me and not panicly clinging to something that someone else tells me where I have to feel good.

And making this decision was the best thing I did. I started trusting my body, because we had together more than ever before. It had to tell me where its limits were, and I had to listen. And yes, we had communication problems. Many. Some resulted in me nearly passing out after running. But I learned. I started understanding the slightest hints of my body, and knew how to deal with days where due to stress, tiredness or whatever reasons my body was not in top notch shape. I felt it, and I knew what to do to still be able to train like I had planned to do.

At the start I had a higher heart rate than maybe you should, but my body adapted. Because I was running and kept on running – and didn´t start walking just because a simple number ordered me to. I was running as long as I felt good, and if it didn´t, I ran slower. And I saw the progress. My heartrate dropped, I was able to run further in one go, and was able to run faster.

And that´s the essential thing that this programme from Polar was not able to teach me – listen to your body. Learn what feels good. Learn what your body needs – rest, different nutrition, hydration, and what not. No app will ever be able to tell you all of that as good as the app called “your brain”. You know what is right. You just need to give it a try, and want to work with it. And you will not only improve physically, but it will make you so much stronger in your mind, too. And that´s also essential when running a halfmarathon.