Learning to Use My Garmin HRM Dual Better

So it’s been about a month since I got my Garmin HRM Dual.

I got the Garmin heart rate strap because I was having problems with cadence lock on my Garmin Forerunner 245. I hadn’t really had an issue in the summer or fall, but the cold weather seemed to screw it up.

Although I did like the HRM Dual from the get go, I had two issues that I noticed early on. First, the heart rate strap didn’t always seem to connect right away. Second, the heart rate strap seemed to report abnormally high heart rates for the first ten minutes or so of a run.

It took a little trial and error, but I think I’m finally getting the hang of things. Here’s what I learned.

Help! My Garmin HRM Dual Won’t Connect Right Away

So the first issue was that the heart rate monitor wouldn’t connect right away.

I put the strap on, went to sensors on my watch, and it would just say “searching.” The first time I tried to connect the watch, I ended up doing some warm up exercises to get my heart rate up a bit. That seemed to help, and eventually it connected.

I had thought the issue was heart rate, but it was more than likely the lack of moisture for connectivity. You see, you need some moisture for your heart rate strap to accurately read your heart rate, and this typically comes from sweat.

So one option is to warm up, sweat a bit, and then connect the watch. But who wants to wait?

One of the tips in the instructions said to moisten the area where the strap sits on your chest. So I usually lick my fingers lightly and rub under my pecs, where the heart rate strap sits. Once I started doing that, the HRM Dual would connect right away – every time.

Help! My Garmin HRM Dual Shows a High Heart Rate at the Beginning of my Run

Problem solved, right?


This led to the discovery of a second issue. If the heart rate monitor connected right away and I wasn’t warmed up, it would report an abnormally high heart rate for the first ten minutes or so.

A graph from Garmin Connect, showing heart rate measured by a Garmin HRM Dual

For example, take a look at the graph above. This was taking during an easy 8 mile run. My heart rate fluctuated a bit because it’s a hilly course, but overall it was an easy run.

If you take a look at the first few minutes, though, it appears that my heart rate immediately shot up to about 175 bpm. That’s close to my max heart rate, and even in a 5k time trial my heart rate only reached 167.

So what happened?

My heart rate wasn’t really that high, and after about ten minutes it magically read about 135 – which was probably accurate. This was a phenomenon similar to cadence lock.

I searched around on the internet, and I found some people who had a similar issue. They claimed it had something to do with the transition from a resting heart rate to a “working heart rate.” The suggested solution – warm up before you connect the heart rate monitor.

I was frustrated at first, because I really didn’t want to have to run two miles, stop tracking my activity, and start tracking a new run just to get my heart rate monitor to work. But then I figured out you can actually turn on the heart rate monitor while you’re tracking an activity.

Simply hold down the “Up” button on you Garmin watch until the menu appears, scroll down to “Sensors,” and select the HRM Dual. You can then switch the status from “Off” to “Searching,” and it should almost immediately connect.

So my new routine is to make sure the heart rate monitor is switched off, start my run like usual, and after about ten minutes switch it on. Since incorporating this into my routine, I haven’t had an issues.

Note: A year later, this no longer seems to be a problem. I’m not sure if it’s because I do a better job of wetting the strap before putting it on, or if the monitor itself has improved in some way. Either way, I’m very happy with it.

Two Tips to Help Your HRM Dual Work Perfectly

So, to recap, here are two tips that I’ve picked up that help make sure your Garmin HRM Dual is working right.

First, moisten the area where the strap touches your body. You need some moisture to make sure there’s a good connection and that it can read your heart rate.

Second, don’t connect the heart rate monitor right away. Start your run, and once you’ve been running for ten minutes you can switch it on.

By combining both of these tips, I’ve had no issues and I’ve had accurate heart rate measurements taken during my runs. This eliminated the problem I was having with the optical heart rate monitor on my Garmin Forerunner 245 – cadence lock.

What about you. Have you had any issues with your HRM Dual? I’d be interested in other tips and tricks to make sure it’s working right.

And if you don’t have a heart rate monitor, check out the Garmin HRM Dual on Amazon. It’s a great heart rate strap, and it will definitely get the job done.

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