Making the most of your Polar M430

Our resident coach Nick Anderson puts the new Polar M430 through its paces to see how its wealth of new features can transform your training and fast track your recovery.

Making the most of your Polar M430

Data, used in the right way, can be vital for improving performance and recovery. The release of the Polar M430 builds on the success of the M400 model with a fantastic range of features to support athletes to become their own sport scientists - training, racing and recovering in an informed way.

The Polar M400 was one of Europe’s best selling running specific training watches. England Athletics coach Nick Anderson gives us his thoughts on the new features and how this represents a step change in how runners approach training and recovery.

Integrated wrist based HRM

Runners are increasingly becoming familiar with the benefits of training to heart rate rather than simply perceived effort or pace. Despite this we commonly see runners’ enthusiasm wane as they don’t want the hassle of using a chest strap or don’t trust the accuracy of wrist based monitoring.

Polar’s proprietary 6-LED wrist based optical heart rate monitoring (HRM) technology and updated HRM algorithm on the M430 makes it easier than ever to quickly and accurately work to a more intelligent training plan bespoke to your physiology. The new optical HRM consistently gives results within 1-2 beats of Polar’s industry leading H7 and H10 chest straps.

How to use the Polar M430

To get the best out of your Polar M430, start with a plan. Just knowing your HR doesn’t make you a fitter or faster runner, but structuring your training around it definitely will. Thankfully this is also easy with access to Polar’s ‘Running Programme’ via the integrated Polar Flow App.

Add your details into the app to get a bespoke plan around your goals and available training time. Your M430 can then guide you through each work out making sure you are working at the right intensity for each session.

Get in the zone

The M430 allows runners to define training ‘zones’ based upon their maximum heart rate (MHR). These can be automatically created from their personal details or runners can tailor their own training zones. We would suggest working to these efforts:

Zone 1 and 2 Up to about 70% of your MHR, cover very light, conversational effort training used for recovery sessions used to help ease legs into training after harder training days through to your easy sessions which will give you the bulk of your weekly training volume.

Training in these zones helps your body learn to burn stored fats a primary fuel source, while also building capillary density and mitochondrial activity. Keep your easy days EASY and train regularly in these zones.

Zone 3 Cover your steady sessions at around 80% of your maximum heart rate. While these sessions are common to see they often fail to achieve all the aerobic benefits of your zone 1 and 2 training, whilst leaving you tired for your higher quality harder sessions. If you regular find all your training falling in this zone, it’s time to mix it up!

 Zone 4 At around 80-85% of your maximum heart rate is the golden zone for many distance athletes training at or around your lactate threshold. This is an incredibly effective way to train - a great way to do it would be to include 5-6 blocks of 5 minutes in Zone 4 with a short 90 second Zone 1-2 recovery and gradually build up, to coming with longer blocks of 25-35 minutes continuously at Zone 4 effort.  

Zone 5 At 85%+ of your MHR helps to develop the body’s ability to work at the maximum oxygen intake (or Vo2 max) and will help get your fitter and used to running, cycling or swimming at higher speeds. Commonly these efforts would be completed in ‘interval’ sessions with efforts between 60 seconds up to 4-5 minutes with set periods of rest between each effort.

How to use the Polar M430 zones

Use the ‘Zones’ screen when training, as this provides a simple and visual guide so you can train at the correct intensity. By pressing and holding the ‘start’ button you can ‘lock’ your current zone and the M430 will give you a vibration warning if you work too hard or too easy; a really nice feature.

Sleep yourself fit

From a coach’s perspective one of the most useful and powerful features of the M430 is the integration of ‘Sleep Plus™’. With an updated accelerometer the M430 can offer this feature whereas the M400 couldn’t.

Sleep Plus™ offers one of the most powerful sleep tracking tools on the market, able to accurately tell you when you went to sleep, when you woke and the ‘real’ hours your slept. The M430 really comes into its own when judging the continuity of your sleep – it will tell you how many times during the night your sleep was interrupted and provide you with detailed patterns of your sleep cycle distilling this into a simple easy to understand figure.

How to use the Polar Sleep Plus™

Your body releases growth hormones when you sleep and undoubtedly consistent high-quality sleep will allow you to better recover from training. Aim to improve your sleep over time by observing good ‘sleep hygiene’ - banishing smart phones, tablets and TVs from the bedroom, aiming for a consistent pre-bedtime routine and getting to bed at a similar time as much as possible.

Limiting caffeine and alcohol late at night can also help. Use ‘Polar Flow’ to track patterns in your sleep and monitor the sleep feedback given by the app. If you have a number of poor nights’ sleep back-to-back consider stepping away from your plan for a few days and taking some extra rest or backing off the harder training sessions.

Running economy 

Running economy is a buzz word amongst coaches and athletes. Essentially it refers to how much effort it takes you to run at a given speed. The less effort and oxygen you use, the more economical you are.

The ‘Running Index’ feature of the Polar M430 will give you a score for your economy after every run by matching your pace against your heart rate. With the upgraded accelerometer this can even be done on indoor and treadmill runs, which makes the M430 the perfect training companion.

How to use the Polar M430 Running Index

Monitor your ‘Running Index’ continually and look for small measurable progressions over a 4-6-week period. In particular, aim to include ‘race pace’ running in your training plan and measure your Index score on those sessions to check that you are improving your economy when running at your goal race pace.

Test your fitness

How do you know you are getting fitter? You can measure your changes in pace using the M430’s superfast GPS, use your Running Index score, session in, session out or benchmark from your race performances. One of simplest but most accurate ways to do this is a ‘Fitness Test’.

The new 6-LED HRM combined with a built-in algorithm, takes in a range of key data: height, age and heart rate variability. Enter this data, lie down for 5 minutes and you will receive a fast and easy measurement of your Vo2 max Essentially it’s the world’s easiest fitness test!

How to use the Polar M430 Fitness Test

Look to complete a fitness test each month under the same conditions - in the morning, before breakfast and monitor your progressions with all your results synced to Polar Flow.

These are just a few ideas to get you going with your Polar M430 - a watch which isn’t just about recording training data but a powerful tool to help shape, plan and monitor training and recovery and which can support you to race more effectively and smash personal bests.

To try the Polar M430 out for yourself, click here

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