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Discussion: Let's talk heart rate!

in: Adventure Racing; Training & Technique

Feb 22, 2015 5:43 AM # 
So, I've always had a tough time getting hr monitors to work on me, so I gave it up...but now I know with the help of some goop, I can make it work. So I'm going to dig out my hr monitor again. Can anyone tell me some basics to get me started using this helpful tool in my training? right now, it's just a bunch of numbers that don't mean anything to me.
Feb 22, 2015 3:19 PM # 
Disclaimer - I am not an expert in this field but these are the traditional methods that I have learned, feel free to correct me.

First you need to determine your Max HR. The traditional formula is 220 less your age but there are newer formulas that you can use based on your age (some formulas are better for older athletes and some are better for younger). I currently use the the 220-Age. Google is your friend.

Then you need to establish your zones, which are based on percentages of your max, and input the values into your HRM, Google again is your friend to get the percentages (Zone 5 is 90%-100%, zone 4 80%-90%, zone 3 70%-80, etc). Once you have your zones you generally want to target training in zone 2 or 3 for base building and zone 3 to 4 for tempo quicker training.

One thing to note is that your perceived exertion while biking and running will be different. By this I mean that biking in zone 3 feels harder than running in zone 3. I have heard of people creating zones for running and different zones for biking to make adjustments but I have no experience with this.
Feb 22, 2015 4:29 PM # 
Super helpful start. Thx!
Feb 22, 2015 4:48 PM # 
I recommend getting an accurate determination of max HR if possible through a legit facility as the formulas are very generalized. It is important to have your zones defined accurately. There are a ton of interesting methods to use it as a tool. One common one for endurance and ultra athletes is Maffetone. But you can probably find a ton or HR and zone training methods online.
Feb 22, 2015 5:40 PM # 
BiT have you had yours tested locally? If so where might I ask/
Feb 22, 2015 9:48 PM # 
x2 for getting your zones established by a professional if you are going to be serious about lactic threshold, aerobic/anaerobic, recovery, etc. If you are adopting the Maffetone approach then testing isn't necessarily as BiT indicated. online formulas for zones "can" work but people are so individual that it really is a generalization. For example, BiT and I have trained together for years, are pretty close to each other in most physical challenges and are CONSISTENTLY 12 beats off on all training. Scary consistent.
Feb 22, 2015 10:46 PM # 
Compounding the data required, you can expect your zones to be different for each activity.
Feb 22, 2015 10:57 PM # 
Good stuff. Thx.
Feb 22, 2015 11:20 PM # 
Agreed with Jay...and I have the ever scientific puke factor. My RHR is generally 48, and I start to feel gross around 165, which I place as the top end of zone 4 and anything higher is 5. I try to vary through the week, and ditch the HR monitor sometimes and just go on feel. Thanks for starting this string, I like reading all the other opinions! Admittedly, the HR training keeps me more focused than I think I would be otherwise. :)
Feb 22, 2015 11:50 PM # 
Perhaps this discussion will prompt Ken to allow different HR's based on activities (wish list!)... ? ;)
Feb 23, 2015 12:36 AM # 
Cali Cowboy:
I base it all off of LT not Max. Use this test...
Feb 23, 2015 4:12 AM # 
inTIMidator, I got my lactate testing done at the Endurance Lab in Toronto. They can do it biking or running.
Feb 23, 2015 12:06 PM # 
Thanks BiT.
Feb 23, 2015 7:57 PM # 
I am glad you started this thread. I also used HR monitors over 6 years ago and decided to get rid of it since they seemed to be too much of a hassle, however felt the guilt because I know they are a smart and healthy thing to use while training. Well, fortunately, I just got a new garmin so will be incorporating the monitor back into training.

I started using it and the numbers can be confusing. There are a lot of books out there on how to use HR monitors for training. Personally, I just try to keep the heart rate as low as possible during endurance training (which is what I notoriously stick with) and then the sprint training or intervals, I let the numbers run wild and jump around like Mexican jumping beans.
Feb 23, 2015 9:47 PM # 
Mexican jumping beans...hehe.

Kyle, i looked up that guy on the web and it looks like he's one of the most published dudes for heart rate. I was thinking of getting his heart rate training book. Anybody know if it's a good book?
Feb 24, 2015 4:37 PM # 
I have been training with HRMs for over 25yrs, and have been tested in university phys labs, etc. many times. While that data is useful, it's not as useful as learning to identify AeT (Aerobic Threshold...*not* Anaerobic/Lactic threshold), or approx. FTP on the bike IMHO.

Let's assume you're not going to hit a lab for blood lactates testing.

Learn to identify your AeT. This is huge for running.

For cycling I would focus more on power (assuming you have a PM) and HR as a secondary marker.

Feb 24, 2015 11:01 PM # 
Shrek Feet:
Great thread Chelsea. I believe in HR training. Ive used it for over 15 years. I think the method that KP referred you to is good but you have to go into it completely rested....completely. Rest and days off before the test. A professional would be great too. Exercise science labs at University's will sometimes have this test avaliable for free through its Masters programs. Maybe you could find something like that. One last idea. If you want your base HR. Put your HR on before bed and take your HR as soon as you wake up, 3 RESTED mornings in a row.
One nice thing is, once you have it dialed in you'll see your HR go low when you're overtrained and high when you are about to get sick...and of course have zones to train in.
Feb 25, 2015 1:44 AM # 
Super helpful Shrek Feet
Feb 25, 2015 11:59 AM # 
Yeah this is helpful Shrek Feet! I have done some further reading on women and HR and we do have different considerations biologically speaking.
Feb 25, 2015 5:51 PM # 
i used HR training a ton when getting ready for IM. mostly the Maffetone approach, i used 153 as my MAF HR and did most of my training at or below that (bike and run). i would assume since we have similar builds/backgrounds that this would be similar for you chelsea. i still train that pace/effort a lot now but don't use a HR monitor hardly ever - that effort level is ingrained into my muscles so I can just go.

this approach takes a lot of humility because it is slow. i run slow. i ride slow. people pass me all. the. time. but that is in training, where there is no podium. racing is different and i've found by keeping things slow and steady in training, with small doses of anaerobic work, gives me plenty of hammer to put down in a race.

the main reason this approach works for me is i have the lifestyle for high volume...relatively low "other" life stresses besides training (work, home, etc) let me put up high weekly/annual volume. (well not exactly in recent weeks but overall.) i'm not sure lower/aerobic intensity would work for most people training under 15 hr/wk.

Friel, Gordo, Maffetone...all good people to stalk. learn as much as you can and then take the pieces that work for you.
Feb 27, 2015 1:46 PM # 
Not sure if this is on topic or not, but I have problems with HR straps. They tend to fall down to my waist unless cinched up tight. I got the upgraded soft Garmin strap, and still had to glue Velcro to it so it sticks to my shirt.
Also a PITA to deal with under winter layers or vest packs and pfds etc.

DCRainmaker is the ultimate geek authority on all things GPS/watch, and he gave this optical forearm HR strap good props

I'd like to try one.
The ultimate would be a Garmin or Ambit HR/GPS with optical sensor that worked perfectly on your wrist.
I'll wait for his full review of the Mio Alpha 2 and link. One limit is they only run 7 hrs or so on a charge.
Feb 28, 2015 1:04 AM # 
'Bent: try developing a bigger belly.
Actually, I've had problems with it wanting to slip if I don't make it almost uncomfortably tight.

I, too advocate a test of real max heart rate. The formulas can be off by quite a bit. More so if you've been staying in shape for quite a while. My actual max hasn't moved in the 15 or so years I've been using a monitor and none of the formulas would predict that.

I use the monitor for two things:
1 - to keep myself from exceeding a sustainable level in long sessions (3+ hours)
2 - to give me an alarm when I hit 90% of max. If I'm near the end of a climb or a sprint, I ignore it, but if I have a way to go yet, I back off the pace before my body forces me too. I have pulled a u turn on climbs where I alarmed half way up. No shame in calling it a day and trying again when you are stronger.
Feb 28, 2015 1:30 PM # 
Veinbuster, I am with you 100% on both counts.
I wear my HRM to keep a lid on things so I don't push too hard too early, where it feels easy. If someone passes me in a race I glance down, and if I'm already near the ceiling I let them go. Like you, the formulas say I should be dead with my high HR max at my age.

I'm hoping Garmin and others will have reliable optic sensors by next year. Also hope they can get a longer battery life with lower sampling rate option.

This discussion thread is closed.