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  1. #1
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    Heart rate based question

    I've been doing the TCTP program for Cross season. every once in a while, a day or two after a hard effort, my heart rate seems to lag way behind perceived effort, or won't come up to the level i'm expecting at all. Friday i did 2 hard races, easy recovery ride yesterday, then today tried to hit it hard again with what Carmichael calls Over-Under repeats, basically alternating Z4-Z5 for a ten minute interval. I could barely get my HR into my Z5, and my breathing was only mildly elevated, but my legs felt like i was giving it all i had.
    I'm guessing this is a sign i'm tired, maybe need an extra rest day, but don't have the experience to say this for sure. last time this happened, i was at the end of a 3-week block heading into a shortened rest week, and when i went hard again 4 days later, everything responded as expected. Now i'm in week 9, where Carmichael suggests less experienced athletes may need to pack it in for the season, but i have 3 more weeks in the 2 series i'm racing, and would like to find a way to finish.
    i'm thinking if this is a sign i'm tired, i could take an extra few days (no races this W/E) and get back at it late in the week/next w/e. Any advice is appreciated!

    Also, being new to racing, wondering if it is normal for HR to be more elevated for races due to nerves/adrenalin. i'm seeing 10-15 BPM higher in races than i can seem to get to in VO2 Max intervals...
    Cook

  2. #2
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    I have the same problem. I already have an abnormally low heart rate. When I'm tired (haven't rested for a few days), I find it hard to get my HR up to Z4/Z5 areas.

    I can usually tell in the first few minutes of the ride if I'm tired or not. If my HR jumps quickly up to Z3 on the first effort, it's a sign I've had enough rest, but if I really have to push to get that first spike, I know I'm tired.

  3. #3
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    I'd say you guessed right, you're tired and need a day off, not unusual. I can often tell when I'm due for a day off after going up a few flights of stairs. If you are following a training plan, I just stick an extra rest day in with a good night's sleep and then try to return to the plan again and see how it feels.
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  4. #4
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    HR not easy to elevate (in the context of training here) is a great way to tell when fatigued. I don't use HR anymore but, I have to admit I do think this is one area where it is a super useful tool.

    As to your last question regarding HR 10-15 BPM higher in races than VO2 intervals: this i probably the reason why HR is so tough to use for shorter intervals. The lag just makes accuracy tough. I'm guessing you are just not going as hard during your intervals...

  5. #5
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    Thanks for responses everyone.
    Woody, that's a good point about short intervals. you may be right i'm not going as hard. these are 2-3 minute intervals and i still think that's enough time for HR to respond, but maybe not always. it sure is easier to push a bit more when you are chasing someone (or being chased).
    Cook

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by mrcookie View Post
    Thanks for responses everyone.
    Woody, that's a good point about short intervals. you may be right i'm not going as hard. these are 2-3 minute intervals and i still think that's enough time for HR to respond, but maybe not always. it sure is easier to push a bit more when you are chasing someone (or being chased).
    What I noticed about intervals when I switched to power was I would start the interval waaaaaaay too hard. Then power would fade well below target and depending on fitness would slowly come back. So taking a slice of time as small as a couple minutes average HR may be low but the effort feels high. Anyways, it's ll how you start the effort is what I'm getting at. edit: this is why short intervals w/ HR can be challenging.

    But, yes I agree. Chasing someone is amazing motivation!

  7. #7
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    thanks for feedback. maybe some day i'll switch to power. been wanting to, but money always seems too tight. (plus keep wanting new bikes lol).

    I'll think more consciously about starting effort and see how it goes.
    Cook

  8. #8
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    When you do, don't make the mistake of "switching" to power. The use of both HR and power will give you far better insight into fitness and over training.
    Quote Originally Posted by mrcookie View Post
    thanks for feedback. maybe some day i'll switch to power. been wanting to, but money always seems too tight. (plus keep wanting new bikes lol).

    I'll think more consciously about starting effort and see how it goes.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by SwiftSolo View Post
    When you do, don't make the mistake of "switching" to power. The use of both HR and power will give you far better insight into fitness and over training.
    Good points about using both power and HR. Before I had any way to measure power, I used speed and HR and perceived exertion (RPE) to gauge workouts and progress. On a known route, if my perceived exertion and HR were paired well but my speed was slow, I knew my legs were tired. For any speed, if my RPE was high and my HR was low, my cardio system was tired and I needed a day off.

    Now on a smart trainer, I know that power is held steady as long as I keep pedaling, so it is the constant in my workouts. It is cool now to see how my HR and RPE play together with the power numbers. I can really feel, and tell by my workout graphs and numbers, if I am tired, overtraining, getting stronger, etc...

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