From the ageing but still great Polar V800 to the more affordable M400 or the Wear-packing M600, Polar’s current crop of GPS sport watches and fitness trackers are smarter than ever, but the watches are just the
start. Behind the devices is Polar Flow, a hugely powerful app that holds the
key to better running.


Master the
web tools that support these devices and you can unlock another level of
insights to help you fine-tune your training and improve your running.

Essential reading: How to use your running watch to be a better runner


Polar Flow is
compatible with the latest Polar fitness and sports devices.
Sadly, if you’re the owner of older Polar devices like the RC3 GPS, the new service won’t work for you. Sorry folks.


Just like Garmin Connect, the Flow web platform offers a vast range of
planning, analysis and social tools to help make training easier to manage. You
can build a training plan, monitor your progress, see what friends have been up
to and even relive recent runs.


Here are thirteen simple things you can do harness the power of Polar Flow to become a better
runner.

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Build a running program



Polar has finally added a dedicated running program that’s designed to build plans for 5k, 10k, half marathon and full marathon races.


To set one up, you’ll need to head to the Programs tab in the web app and pick out a plan along with the date of the race. It’ll then devise a plan including a variety of different types of running sessions including intervals and tempo runs. It also adds a series of timed circuit workouts and adapts the running program when you’ve missed a session.

Top tip: Run with a heart rate monitor and you’ll get a better insight into the heart rate zones you commonly train with and get valuable information regarding run recovery. Basically, when you need to give your legs a day off.

Check your vitals


Just as we
recommend with Garmin Connect, customising your age, height, gender and heart
rate zones will help get you the most accurate training data next time you hit
the road. From overall calorie burn, to what type of calories (fat or carbs)
you’re using to fuel you sessions, if you have tested your actual thresholds, such
as anaerobic and aerobic thresholds, or upper and lower lactate thresholds, it’s better to use those stats.

Heart rate guide: Check out our guide to heart rate zones


That way you
can be sure you’re training with zones based on your individual thresholds
rather than defaults or estimates. It also improves the accuracy of the
Training Benefit notifications you get after each session as this is also then
based on these zones.


Polar
recommends that you set your anaerobic threshold as the minimum heart rate of
zone 5. If you also use aerobic threshold, set that as the minimum of zone 3.
The minimum of zone 4 is halfway between zones 3 and 5.

Set your
sport profiles


A lot of
Polar’s fitness gear has multi-sport smarts and the web
tools are built to back that up. You can create multiple sport profiles,
tailoring everything from heart rate zones to whether you view your heart
activity as BPM, percentage of maximum heart rate and percentage of heart rate
reserve.

Polar picks: What is the best Polar running watch?


You can also
change which stats display on your watch depending on whether you’re running the road track, trail or treadmill. Just click your username
in the top right of the screen and select Sport Profiles from the dropdown menu
to add, edit or delete.

Find some friends


A little bit of competition can provide some motivation to go out running when you’re tempted to give it a miss and go for a drink instead. Polar Flow lets you follow or check in on friends to view their progress.


To do this, click on the feed tab where you’ll find all of your most recent logged activities. On the right hand side you can search for users that have their privacy set to public. Here you’ll be able to view training sessions, see a break down of tracked sports and a host of other metrics.

Relive your
session

Relive is a brilliant feature on Polar Flow that lets you
retrace the steps and stats of any of your recent sessions. Click on the Relive
button from any workout page and you get a Google map and Street View mash-up
of your run, complete with all of the vital info like pace, heart rate, time
and distance. While you don’t get to see
every twist and turn in Street View it is a brilliant way to visualise how your
run went in a way that brings your data to life.


You can spot
where your heart rate soared or your pace slowed. Use this tool to review your
monthly benchmark run and you’ll be able to
build a picture of how your performance is improving for example when that hill
at mile eight you’ve struggled with for the past three months is no
longer a problem.

Follow
someone else
s footsteps


It’s not just your own training you
can Relive either, Polar Flow lets you delve into the training
runs of anyone who has their settings on share mode. Why is this useful? Not
only can you use it to find new routes to run almost anywhere on the planet but
you can also see how other athletes have performed on that route.


Find someone
who’s done the distance you’re attempting, in a time you’re aiming
for, and you can see how they ran it. With access to heart rate and pacing, you
get insights like where they slowed down or sped up and how they approach the
beginning middle and end of their run. If you’ve got the time to do a bit of digging, there are lots of lessons to
learn from other runners already out there putting in the miles. If you want to
take it one step further you follow our next tip too.

Get support
from Polar Flow community


Just like
apps like Endomondo and Strava, Polar Flow has a social side.
You can follow other runners and see how people in your network are getting on with
their training. From here you can also show support with a Like button or leave
comments. Seen someone run a 10km in the time you’re chasing and want to find out how they paced it? Drop them a comment
next to their activity and ask for advice.


As an added
bonus, sharing your workouts has been proven to keep people committed to
training plans for longer and having moral support from people going through
the same pain and getting the same rewards is really powerful.

Get yourself
hooked on benefits


Combined with
the Training Benefit feature on many Polar devices, Flow makes it really easy
to understand the training effect of each of your training sessions and the
cumulative benefit of a week or a month.


On your
session screen – and on your watch – Polar gives you post-workout feedback on
what kind of session you’ve just had,
whether it’s Steady State, Maximum Training Benefit or Tempo, based on how much
time you spent and how many calories you burnt in each heart rate zone.


Keeping a
close eye on these will help you get an idea of the types of runs and routes
you can string together to build a fully-rounded training plan.

Check in on your Running Index

Polar Flow: How to use your Polar app to become a better runner


Tucked away in the Progress tab is section called the Running Index report. This essentially gives you an insight into your maximal running performance, every time you track a session with heart rate and speed both recorded.


By tracking this information this over a long period of time, you’ll then be able to see how you rank against other runners in your gender. What’s actually more useful is that it can also create predictions for certain running distances, which can provide a guide as to whether you will nail that sub 1 hour 10k or you’ll complete that marathon race in a respectable time.

No need to
HIIT the track


Whether your
starting out with run-walk or you’re a seasoned
runner knocking out Yasso 800s, building interval sessions into your training
is a great way to improve speed and endurance. Polar Flow makes constructing
high intensity interval sessions easy. You can choose the time, distance and
pace of each segment and duplicate segments to put together quick sets of
exertion and recovery.


Once created,
your interval sessions can be synced to your Polar watch with audio and
vibrating alerts telling you when to speed up or rest. The good news here is
that you no longer have to be on the track to do 400m or 800m intervals. You’re free to recreate those wherever you can find the best view.

Keep an eye
on your training load


In the Diary
section, Polar Flow gives you an at-a-glance, indicator of the
physical cost of every run, along with recommendations on how long it’ll take to recover from that training load. While it’s by no means the absolute truth about whether or when you should next
train, because it’s based on your heart rate profile that you’ve built over time, it’s a
reasonable barometer of how hard you’re pushing
yourself. It’s a great tool to use for constructing a balanced
training plan that should help you get the most out of each session.

Make friends with other apps

Polar Flow is feature-packed but it doesn’t cover everything that’s vital to keep you fit and healthy. Thankfully, Flow is compatible with a handful of third party apps. Head to the mobile app and go to General Settings and you’ll be able to switch on Apple Health, Strava, Training Peaks and MyFitnessPal to share data and provide a more comprehensive picture of your fitness levels.

Get in touch
with your feelings


Most
successful athletes keep training diaries and while it might sound a bit old
school to add notes to each of your run in the Polar Flow web tool, it’s a brilliant way to keep track of what workouts suit you best.
Sometimes the data only reveals half the story and adding some emotional
context will help you spot how certain types of training session impact one
another.


Perhaps you
need three rather than two days after a long run to hit the hill training or
you feel that niggle return each time you hit a certain number of miles in a
week. Heart rate and pacing stats don’t necessarily give this insight when you return to them after a month.


Hot sports watch deals

Garmin Forerunner 35 - save $30

Garmin Forerunner 35 – save $30


$169.99

Garmin Forerunner 235 - save $80

Garmin Forerunner 235 – save $80


$249.99

Wareable may get a commission

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