I used a Polar SD200 HRM with a speed pod to record the distance. There are many other basic HRMs that you could choose from. You could go to Running Times or Runners World web sites and search for articles on HR training.
They're all made in China, so I imagine they're all comparable quality. I have the Ironman BodyLink System, which has always been up to the task.
If you go to amazon.com and search on "heart rate training" you'll get some good hits. I have Edmund Burke's "Precision Heart Rate Training", which has mixed reviews.
I've been using a heart rate monitor for almost 13 years now and am so obsessive about it I've upgraded almost every two years and currently use two different depending on the location. For 95% of my running I now use the Garmin 305 with GPS, very expensive but if you want accurate distance with Heart rate I think that's the best. I also have a couple of Polar products and was extremely loyal to them for 11 years. Right now I'm using the Polar S800 very expensive too (the others I've handed down to my wife and daughter). I only use it for indoor training. It has a foot pod or GPS, down side is you have to calibrate it every time you change shoes and I've found that it also depends on terrain (i.e. trails or track) Positive for Polar it usually links with most gym equipment unlike the Garmin. You don't have to charge the Polar all of the time and is less bulky. For beginners who don't care about all of the "gee-wiz" stuff I would recommend a base model Polar for under a 100 dollars it's easy to use and you can still set heart rate limits. Sally Edwards has a great book for heart rate training and I still incorporate much of what she wrote into my training.
The Polar F6 is what I've been recommending to friends who are in the market for their first HRM. It's about $100 and it gives you all the basics (heart rate, percentage of maximum heart rate, percent of fat calories burned, daily and weekly totals) and it's pretty easy to use. I'm sort of a Polar fanatic though, and to be fair, there are plenty of other good basic HRMs out there made by Acumen, Nike, Timex, etc. and many of these are cheaper than Polar. Amazon sells a lot of HRMs (in addition to selling books about heart-rate monitor training) although you probably would want to at least have a look at an HRM in the store.
One thing to consider when buying your first HRM -- in addition to price, of course -- is where you will be using it? Outdoors? In the gym? If you're inside near other people with HRMs (like a spinning class), you will need to get a coded model that doesn't "read" other peoples' transmitters. All high-end HRMs are coded (from what I've seen, at least), as are many of the cheaper models, but you should at least check if you're planning to use yours in a gym.
Somewhere in the world someone is training when you are not. When you race him, he will win.