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How to Utilize Polar Running Index in Your Training

Click here for an updated article on the Polar Running Index

Running Index offers an easy way to monitor performance changes. Performance (how fast/easily you run at a given pace) is directly influenced by aerobic fitness (VO 2max) and exercise economy (how efficient your body is at running), and Running Index is a measurement of this influence. By recording your Running Index over time, you can monitor progress. Improvement means that running at a given pace requires less of an effort, or that your pace is faster at a given level of exertion. The Running Index feature calculates such improvements. Running Index also gives you daily information on your running performance level which may vary from day to day.

Benefits of Running Index:

  • emphasizes the positive effects of good training sessions and resting days.
  • monitors fitness and performance development at different heart rate levels - not only during maximal performance.
  • you can determine your optimal running speed by comparing running indexes from different kinds of trainings.
  • stresses progress through better running technique and fitness level.

Running Index is calculated during every exercise when heart rate and the stride sensor/foot pod signal is recorded, and when the following requirements apply:

  • speed should be 6km/h / 3,75 mi/h or faster and duration 12 minutes minimum.
  • heart rate should be above 40% HRmax.

Make sure that the stride sensor/foot pod is calibrated. Calculation begins when you start recording the session. During the session, you may stop once at traffic lights, for example, without interrupting the calculation.

In the end, your running computer displays a Running Index value and stores the result in the File section. Compare your result to the table below. Using the software, you can monitor and analyze your progress in Running Index values against time and different running speeds. Or compare values from different exercise sessions and analyze them in the short and long term.

Short-term and Long-term Analysis of Running Analysis

Polar Running Index

There may be some daily variation in the Running Indexes due to running circumstances e.g. surface, hills, wind, temperature.

The single Running Index values form a trend that predicts your success in running certain distances.

The following chart estimates the duration that a runner can achieve in certain distances when performing maximally. Use your long-term Running Index average in the interpretation of the chart. The prediction is best for those Running Index values that have been received at speed and running circumstances similar to the target performance.


Running Index
Cooper test (m)
5 km (h:mm:ss)
10 km(h:mm:ss)
21.098 km (h:mm:ss)
42.195 km (h:mm:ss)
36 1900 0:37:30 1:16:00 2:45:00 5:45:00
38 2000 0:35:00 1:11:30 2:34:00 5:20:00
40 2100 0:32:30 1:06:30 2:24:00 5:00:00
42 2200 0:30:45 1:03:00 2:16:00 4:45:00
44 2300 0:29:00 0:59:30 2:09:00 4:30:00
46 2400 0:28:00 0:57:30 2:04:00 4:20:00
48 2500 0:26:45 0:55:00 1:59:00 4:10:00
50 2600 0:25:30 0:52:30 1:54:00 4:00:00
52 2700 0:24:15 0:50:00 1:49:00 3:50:00
54 2850 0:23:15 0:48:00 1:44:00 3:40:00
56 2950 0:22:15 0:46:00 1:40:00 3:32:00
58 3100 0:21:15 0:44:00 1:36:00 3:25:00
60 3200 0:20:30 0:42:30 1:33:00 3:18:00
62 3300 0:19:30 0:40:30 1:29:00 3:10:00
64 3400 0:19:00 0:39:30 1:26:00 3:05:00
66 3500 0:18:30 0:38:30 1:24:00 3:00:00
68 3650 0:17:45 0:37:00 1:21:00 2:55:00
70 3750 0:17:15 0:36:00 1:19:00 2:50:00
72 3900 0:16:30 0:34:30 1:16:00 2:45:00
74 4000 0:16:00 0:33:30 1:14:00 2:40:00
76 4100 0:15:30 0:32:30 1:12:00 2:35:00
78 4200 0:15:15 0:32:00 1:10:00 2:30:00

It is worth remembering that in addition to good Running Index, maximal running performance demands good preparation, optimal running conditions, speed endurance and guts. Training quantity and quality have an affect as well as natural talent.

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Hi, I'm Rich Dafter - full time dad, life-long runner, Team Beachbody Coach and Polar Global Ambassador. By the Grace of God, I have been able to raise my kids working from home by helping people get healthier, fitter and have better quality of life as a full-time Team Beachbody Coach since 2007. more...

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