Sunday, January 27, 2013

When training for the Etape du Tour, heart beats legs

I accidentally bought a heart rate monitor. Now, I understand that's a hard thing to do. Spilling a drink by accident? Easy. Tripping on the power cord from the Hoover by accident? Easy. Buying a heart rate monitor? Hard.

I blame Gerry. After a post on turbo training, he said a heart rate monitor was needed for some indoor training. So I took a look speculatively then put one on my Amazon wish list. Or rather, in my basket so I could think about it.

Then some months later, when buying something else, I hit "one click purchase". This then shipped both items to my default address.

So, I now have a heart rate monitor. Naturally, I had to use it.

It's all about heart

Heart rate is key successful riding, we are told. When your legs go, deep into a ride, it's not really your legs that are the problem. It's the entire aerobic system. Basically, you're not getting enough oxygen to your muscles.

To do better you need to increase your aerobic fitness, and that's about endurance training.

So, after finding out my resting (72bpm, utterly average) and my probable maximum (190, solid for my age, but provisional until I do a proper test) heart rates I could work out a good rate to hold for effective endurance training.

These training zones are recommended by Cycling Australia:
  • VO2 Max Boosting: 92%-100%, so 174-190bpm for me (Sprint training - or 20 min time trial training)
  • Anabolic Threshold endurance: 85%-91%, 161-173 (Really good for fitness improvement, great for hills)
  • General aerobic endurance: 75%-84%, 142.5-160 (increase muscle glycogen storage, doesn't improve fitness though)
  • Basic aerobic endurance: 65%-74%, 123.5-142 (for building up 'base' cycling fitness, warming up and cooling down)
  • Recovery: 50%-64%, 95-123 (recovery rides, for 'flushing out muscles' between more intense training)
  • Rest: Less than 50%, under 95 (active recovery, ie walking after a ride or stretching)
Of course, being me, I didn't know any that before I started my turbo ride.

Instead, all geed up by my new heart rate monitor, I guessed 140-160bpm would be about right and so trained to that.

I spent almost the entire training period in a heart rate zone that was "riding too fast to build your aerobic base but too slow to develop your V02MAX and lactate threshold.

"Cyclists that train in this zone a lot end up quickly reaching a plateau in their fitness." [source]

I did "burst" three times, to the VO2 Max boosting level, but that was because I was bored.

On the plus side, I now know better. Next time I get on the turbo, it's all about 161-173. There are mountains in France to conquer.

1 comment:

  1. I don't mind taking the blame for this one. You've made a great investment, even if you didn't mean to! One thing I'd suggest, though, is continue your research into training programs for big events, like the one you'll be doing soon enough. You need to work all those zones up there, and that's where a properly-designed program is golden.