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Category: health

Heart Rate Testing Confuses Me

I’m following the LW Coaching 100 Mile Mountain Bike Race – Finisher Plan again this year, again in hopes that it’ll get me ready to complete the Lumberjack 100 race in June. Part of this involves testing my Lactate Threshold Heart Rate, or basically, my average heart rate over 20 minutes of riding my bike as hard as I can. This average is then run through a formula (one of many — I’m using this one from LW Coaching) to determine heart rate zones. When working out (really, just riding my bike) I then try to stay in the prescribed zone for the listed amount of time, with the idea that this helps build endurance at that zone.

For example, the zones that were calculated for me off of today’s test with an average heart rate (HR) of 170 BPM during the test are as follows:

Zone 1 – Recovery: 111 – 137 BPM
Zone 2 – Aerobic: 138 – 152 BPM
Zone 3 – Tempo: 153 – 159 BPM
Zone 4 – Sub Threshold: 160 – 169 BPM
Zone 5 – Super Threshold: 170 – 180 BPM

Much of the planned riding in preparation for finishing a 100 mile race involves hours of riding in zones 2 or 3, which seems easy at first, but gets difficult as the hours progress. It does seem to work, though, as it helped me get up to riding 8+ hours comfortably, as long as I was capable of pacing myself. Hopefully this’ll continue to help this year, and I won’t quit early like I did last year. I’d really like to finish this race at least once.

Last year I first performed this test on the trainer on the second day of the plan, but ended up with a low-seeming heart rate of 153 BPM. I tried again on April 4th, 2012 and got a result of 166 BPM†, which is what I’ve used for my HR zones for training last year. This current result of 170 BPM has pushed the zones up a bit from last year, and I hope this helps push me a bit more.

Despite using the same route as last year for the test and following a similar warmup I can’t help but question the variances in numbers. Today was much colder than last year (42.3°F vs. 59.7°F), the bike used had slightly knobbier tires and a suspension fork, and there was a lot more wind today. Maybe the harder conditions and higher average HR mean I’ve become a capable of a little bit more over the last year? I’m not really sure.

The more I read about HR zones and LTHR calculation the more confused I become. I was pushing myself as hard as I felt I could go without failing, so with Joe Friel‘s (a pretty well regarded coach) simple adage…

Do not be concerned with anything other than are you going as hard as you can go right now. If the answer is “yes” then you are doing the test right.

…maybe I am doing it right.

† This was then recalculated on May 8th, 2012, but likely due to a loose HRM strap I ended up with a maximum of 225 BPM and an average of 187 BPM, clearly erroneous numbers. As a result I just stuck with the previous number of 166 BPM from April.

Update on May 8, 2013: Yesterday, as prescribed, I performed another LTHR test. Riding the same route (but with a different warmup) in 35°F warmer weather (79°F vs 34°F) my average HR was 2 BPM faster and average speed was 1.5 MPH faster. I think it may have been a bit less windy, which likely explains the higher average speed.

This pushes each of the zones up slightly to the following, which is what I’ll likely use for the remainder of the training plan:

Zone 1 – Recovery: 112 – 138 BPM
Zone 2 – Aerobic: 139 – 154 BPM
Zone 3 – Tempo: 155 – 161 BPM
Zone 4 – Sub Threshold: 162 – 171 BPM
Zone 5 – Super Threshold: 172 – 182 BPM

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2012 Outdoor Riding Statistics

Shown above (full size image here) are my outdoor cycling statistics for 2012, as compiled using a Garmin Edge 500 and Ascent. Due to aliasing issues on rides that were done without a wheel sensor and a small handful of rides where I didn’t have my GPS there’s likely a small bit of under recording here, but it’s probably pretty close. By wearing a heart rate monitor while riding the tools are also able to estimate the number of calories burned.

The big, most notable stats are as follows:

Total Distance: 4217.31 miles
Total Ride Duration (Clock Running): 462:09:23
Moving Time: 363:55:11
Distance Climbed (Elevation Gain): 133,326′
Calories Burned: 289,802

More interestingly my ride duration can be seen ramping up to May, which is right was the end of getting ready to attempt Lumberjack 100 (LJ). Things settled down in June likely as I ramped down for then was disappointed by LJ, but then the next three months had far more distance likely due to the great weather and my having half of each August and September off of work. November and December dropped off dramatically, likely due to the poor / wet weather we’ve had and drastically shortening days.

My average moving speed was also highest in March, which I attribute to that being a month of mostly dirt road riding as trails weren’t in good shape for riding. September was also fairly high with some long distances, likely attributable to more riding to and from trails. My cadence was also a good 10 RPM lower than what I see on the trainer (70s to 80s outdoors vs. 80-90), which I suspect to be a combination of outdoor riding for me being much more interrupted pedaling versus the trainer’s constant spinning. Most outdoor rides lasting longer than trainer sessions and on the trainer I don’t have to worry about bike handling, so I’m probably more willing to spin quickly when indoors.

Beyond these numbers I also spent 41:53:31 on the trainer, burning an additional 31,114 calories. (I don’t do anything with distance or speed on the trainer as it’s not really like riding on outdoor surfaces.) This was all done from January through May, then in November and December.

It’ll be interesting to see how 2013 compares to these numbers. I’d really like to give LJ a go again, but I’m on the fence about it. I really enjoyed the training rides leading up to it, but it did take a bit of time and effort. Registration doesn’t open for a couple more months so I’ve got time to decide and see if I really want to give it another go.

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Broken Bell, Punctured Saddle

Tonight in lieu of a ride at Pontiac Lake I stopped off at River Bends on my way home. The ride itself was pretty good and uneventful, except for a sudden fall about 3.5 minutes into my ride, right at the original start of the single track. This is a somewhat loose corner where one has to weave around a tree while entering off of two track, and I did so wrongly, washed out my front wheel, and hit the tree.

I ended up hitting the handlebar with my thigh, breaking off the bell (as seen above), catching my ankle somewhere on the downtube, and landing on my hands/chest. Except for some bruises on my legs I’m just fine, but it was very frustrating. In the process of falling I also tore my (relatively new) saddle, turned the seatpost, and turned the stem a bit. Oh well, at least I’m okay.

Later on in that same ride I came across a deer with new, fuzzy antlers who wouldn’t move off the trail for me. I decided to turn back and go a different way, as I’d rather not have a deer decide it wants to make me move.

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Lumberjack 100 Weekend

This past weekend was Lumberjack 100, the race that I signed up for back in March. For the past three months I’d been riding a lot to try and be ready for it, but I didn’t do enough. After two laps I felt rather beat, and despite Erik and I heading out together on a third lap I gave up about 4-5 miles in, just after all of the hard initial climbing. A light rain had also started at this point and it didn’t help my lack of interest in continuing.

I suspect that the dust, heat, and sandy trail played a part in making it hard, but I think that I just wasn’t properly prepared for what the race entailed. In the end I logged 73 miles, about 27 short of finishing. My quitting was almost entirely due to general fatigue, not any particular soreness. Even the day after the race my legs weren’t sore and just felt a bit tired, and three days later I had no problem riding hard on a single speed. The data from that day can be seen here.

Looking back on it I’m frustrated with myself for not carrying on, but at the time I felt amazingly tired and at the end of the previous lap I’d stopped having fun. Part of me thinks that I could have finished, while the other part of me really isn’t sure. I really wanted to finish, but I didn’t. Maybe I’ll give it another go next year… I’m just not sure I want to do the months of riding again to get ready. At least next time (if there is one) I’ll have a good idea of what I did wrong.

The weekend overall was a really nice time up north with Danielle, Nick, Marty, Erik, and Kristi. Without them I wouldn’t have even made it up there. From the super-fun long rides to keeping me excited about it, from cool weather dirt road rides to fat biking in the snow they, along with many other friends, played a huge part in keeping me going to even try the race. They are great.

The day after the race, after we’d all had breakfast at Dagmar’s Kozy Kitchen (yes, it looks weird, but they have good food) and parted ways, I took a few detours on the way home. My first stop was at the Mortimer E. Cooley Bridge over the Pine River along M-55 just east of Wellston. This somewhat historic bridge (seen above and also here) was quite nifty to see. I’d driven over it a number of times previously and realized just how high it was, but had neve stopped to look.

There are some rather nice wood and metal stairways leading down to platforms along and beneath the bridge, specifically to allow for easy viewing. While nicely maintained, the foliage along the stairways could use a bit of a trim as much of it was poison ivy growing up through the slats (photo). I had to tread carefully to avoid stepping on any, as squishing it against the metal grating would surely leave uruishol on my shoes, leading to it ending up all over the car, house, etc. That’d be bad.

Finally, after visiting the bridge I headed over to Cops & Doughnuts in Clare, a surprisingly good bakery from which I purchased a doughnut (apple fritter) and coffee for myself, and a cinnamon roll which I dropped off with my dad on the way home. Being Father’s Day I wanted to be sure to stop by there. It was surprisingly easy to get to their house on the way home, so that worked out well.

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Sweaty Shoulder Deposits

This is a detailed photo of sweaty deposits left on the shoulder strap of my hydration pack that I usually carry when riding. Due to the summer time heat and ingesting a bunch of electrolyte-laden sports drink while riding, the result is this: salty, crusty residue left on most everything that I wear while riding, particularly after long rides.

Note that this sticks off the fabric by roughly 1mm. I washed it (and a bunch of other crust) off tonight, so hopefully the bag will be a bit more pliable once it dries.

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Dirty Ears Beget Dirty Earplugs

Last night I put in some ear plugs, but because I hadn’t cleaned out my ears first all of the wax in my ears seemed to stick to the plugs, as seen above. (Click here to embiggen.) While I now have to toss out these earplugs, it does show that they do a pretty good job serving as an impromptu — though not immediate — ear cleaning solution.

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Nice Trainer Setup

I’m pretty happy with the current trainer setup in the basement. It is located in front of the TV but behind the futon so I can watch a movie while riding and Danielle can use the futon (to watch the movie or play games) without us needing to move anything around. My netbook is on a keyboard stand in front of the bike so I can use TrainerRoad instead of a typical bike computer, and the I-beam spanning the basement is directly overhead and serves as a convenient shelf. The kegerator of homebrew is for after.

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It’s Not Morgellons

Every once in a while, usually after a long bit of walking, I will find a small hair sticking out of the ball of my foot. This part of my foot will sting a bit, I’ll find the hair sticking out, and a few hours after pulling it out with tweezers the pain will be gone. I suspect that a bit of hair in my sock — either my own or something picked up — will work it’s way under a bit of skin, then slowly push it’s way in while walking. It’s easy to remove and rather amusing.

Looking around a bit online I’ve found anecdotal stories of others (particularly dog groomers working in sandals) having the same problem, but it seems to be more rare and undiscussed than tonsillolith. And yes, I’m sure it’s not Morgellons.

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