Broke out a new gadget today: The heart rate monitor. Back when I first spoke with AtlantiCare exercise physiologist and fitness supervisor Rich Owens, he started preaching the benefits of training by heart rate versus pace.

Last month, I took a test to determine my target heart rates. I'll use the monitor to make sure I'm hitting them in my training.

It was just one day - a 6.5-mile tempo run through Galloway - but it's going to take some getting used to. For one thing, I'm used to running faster than I did with this. Every time I exceeded my target this morning, which was up to 156 beats per minute, a watch on my wrist started beeping. So, I'd slow down and bring the heart rate down. Then, before I knew it, I'd settled into a groove, legs felt good, pace picked up and ... BEEP-BEEP-BEEP.

The theory behind it is that by improving my maximum heart rate I'll improve the time I can run in that zone. So slowing down now, hopefully, will result in a fitter, faster me down the line. And that would be pretty cool. ...