I'm running my first marathon in April, though I ran track competitively in college a few years ago. I was wondering if a heart rate monitor would be a good tool for marathon running, and if anyone has any views on whether they help/are just a hassle running.
I went and checked some out at Citysports today, and the salesgirl insisted on a $360 Polar model. Admittedly, I don't know anything about HRMs so I'm not sure if she was trying to make a pricey sale or its really top-of-the-line.
Regardless, I'm ok with shelling out a little money if it's something that will be useful and functional, though obviously the less the better I do have a HRM now, but you have to hold down buttons for a read-out, and it doesn't come with a chest strap (also - is this essential?)
A heart rate monitor (HRM) can be a useful training tool. I have used one from time to time, but usually don't. I can't imagine what would make one worth $360, considering you can get the Garmin 405 GPS, with HRM for about the same price, and the Garmin 305 (GPS + HRM) for $100 less. HRMs using a chest strap allow you to record your heart rate over time and keep track of averages, maximums and minimums, time spent in each "zone", and they give you a constant readout without having to touch any buttons. Here are a couple articles that talk about using a HRM which may help you decide. Note that a couple of them have a bit of a slant.