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Long Distance Competition/Ultracycling, Randonneuring and Endurance Cycling Do you enjoy centuries, double centuries, brevets, randonnees, and 24-hour time trials? Share ride reports, and exchange training, equipment, and nutrition information specific to long distance cycling. This isn't for tours, this is for endurance events cycling

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Old 02-02-08, 02:30 PM   #1
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Long Distance and HRM's

I've been reading some articles on heart rate training, and while I use an HRM I don't actively make training plans with it, I use it more as a way to pace myself and track my fitness level.

That got me thinking, for those of you who use an HRM what % of your max do you try to stay within for centuries, double centuries, etc? I generally shoot for between 75-80% for centuries but go up to LT on climbs. I'm beginning to think I should lower that to 70-75% for extra long rides.
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Old 02-02-08, 03:47 PM   #2
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The idea is not to go anaerobic at any point during the actual event itself, since that will tire you out much, much faster. So, 70-75% sounds right.
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Old 02-02-08, 06:34 PM   #3
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Say you're doing a brevet series: 100 - 200 - 300 - 400 - 600k. I find it just the thing to set my HR limit for each brevet at the maximum HR I was able to attain at the end of the previous brevet. So, going off MHR, no limit on the 100k, 90% or so on the 200k, 88% on the 300, 85% on the 400, 82% on the 600, for an example. Cruising HR as seems reasonable, say 65-78%.
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Old 02-03-08, 07:48 AM   #4
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The idea is not to go anaerobic at any point during the actual event itself, since that will tire you out much, much faster. So, 70-75% sounds right.
Well, if you go to LT on a climb and coast down the other side, it seems like you could recover enough that you would gain more time without having lost much glycogen in your muscles.


Carbonfiberboy that's a pretty interesting method. I'll try that this season too.
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Old 02-03-08, 03:03 PM   #5
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Well, if you go to LT on a climb and coast down the other side, it seems like you could recover enough that you would gain more time without having lost much glycogen in your muscles.
Not quite. My understanding is that when you go anaerobic, you're using a different metabolic process that is much more taxing than sub-anaerobic.

Also, if it takes you 10 minutes to get up the hill, it might only take you 2-3 minutes to go down, and that's not a lot of time to break down fat/muscles to get more glycogen into your blood stream. I.e. coasting down the hill might not, in fact, give you enough time to recover.
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Old 02-03-08, 03:13 PM   #6
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True but LT is just the heart rate you can only maintain for 1 hour, a pretty arbitrary unit of time as far as your bodies going. I think going anaerobic happens at higher heart rates than LT.
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Old 02-04-08, 11:44 AM   #7
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In the past I have ridden by heart rate, and it is not a very efficient way to measure your effort, even if conditions remain mostly the same. Your heart rate changes too slowly to truly show you what your effort is, and it can vary, depending on outside factors.

Power is the most accurate method to manage effort, but it can be an expensive setup. You get an immediate, and accurate, assessment of what you are doing. These days I don't even look at my heart rate anymore.

In an effort to not totally derail the topic, it is better to take it easy on the uphills, and then put more effort into the descent. The goal is to smooth out the effort as much as possible. Going hard on the uphill and then trying to recover on the descent ultimately counts against you. This is what you have to do when in a fast group ride, or racing, but not long distance stuff like we are talking about (unless you are trying to stay in touch with people who are simply riding faster than you are).

This past Saturday I did a 300k (PCH Randos, out of Malibu, CA). During the ride I rode within a fairly narrow power band (up hills and down), and finished the ride feeling fairly strong. Without the power meter I would have been going too hard on the climbs, burning up my legs.
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Old 02-04-08, 01:22 PM   #8
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In the past I have ridden by heart rate, and it is not a very efficient way to measure your effort, even if conditions remain mostly the same. Your heart rate changes too slowly to truly show you what your effort is, and it can vary, depending on outside factors.

Power is the most accurate method to manage effort, but it can be an expensive setup. You get an immediate, and accurate, assessment of what you are doing. These days I don't even look at my heart rate anymore.

In an effort to not totally derail the topic, it is better to take it easy on the uphills, and then put more effort into the descent. The goal is to smooth out the effort as much as possible. Going hard on the uphill and then trying to recover on the descent ultimately counts against you. This is what you have to do when in a fast group ride, or racing, but not long distance stuff like we are talking about (unless you are trying to stay in touch with people who are simply riding faster than you are).

This past Saturday I did a 300k (PCH Randos, out of Malibu, CA). During the ride I rode within a fairly narrow power band (up hills and down), and finished the ride feeling fairly strong. Without the power meter I would have been going too hard on the climbs, burning up my legs.
This how I rode until I started riding with my present group, many of whom have been riding together seemingly forever. They taught me to go like stink on the climbs and take it easy on the descents. Once I got strong enough to hang with them on the climbs, I realized that it's a much faster and more efficient way to ride. Simple reason: Power output required is proportional to the cube of your speed. Physics 101. So it's much more efficient to climb hard, where speed is low, and just spin your legs comfortably on the descent. Your total kj will be lower to cover the same distance in the same time.

To say it in other words, when climbing the incremental decrease in total time is much greater with increases in power output, than on the descent, where the incremental decrease in total time with increased power output is much lower because wind resistance is proportional to the square of the speed.

I agree with how comfortable it is to run at constant power, but it's more efficient to lay in the draft of my buddies, who otherwise would be way up the road! This presupposes a certain amount of conditioning, but that's why we do intervals and other intense training, and practice going hard, recovering, and going hard again.

Many LD riders advocate coasting on all descents, and they may be right, but I find it just fine to keep a tight chain under about 35 mph. If I were doing RAAM, I would certainly coast!

It's true that HR does not give an accurate assessment of power. But RPE can fill in while HR changes to a steady state. HR does give an accurate assessment of the chemical pathways being utilized to produce the current forward motion. Much more accurate than power, which could care less where it comes from, hence the utility of a HRM on LD rides.
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Old 02-04-08, 03:27 PM   #9
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In the past I have ridden by heart rate, and it is not a very efficient way to measure your effort, even if conditions remain mostly the same. Your heart rate changes too slowly to truly show you what your effort is, and it can vary, depending on outside factors.

Power is the most accurate method to manage effort, but it can be an expensive setup. You get an immediate, and accurate, assessment of what you are doing. These days I don't even look at my heart rate anymore.

In an effort to not totally derail the topic, it is better to take it easy on the uphills, and then put more effort into the descent. The goal is to smooth out the effort as much as possible. Going hard on the uphill and then trying to recover on the descent ultimately counts against you. This is what you have to do when in a fast group ride, or racing, but not long distance stuff like we are talking about (unless you are trying to stay in touch with people who are simply riding faster than you are).

This past Saturday I did a 300k (PCH Randos, out of Malibu, CA). During the ride I rode within a fairly narrow power band (up hills and down), and finished the ride feeling fairly strong. Without the power meter I would have been going too hard on the climbs, burning up my legs.
I agree, I've been using power for the last 4 years. It made a difference in my LD riding. I've read that if you ride in anaerobic for a 1/2 hour that it takes 8 hours of rest to totally recover from it.

Ron, you must have been part of the group we saw going south out of Santa Barbara Saturday afternoon.
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Old 02-04-08, 05:08 PM   #10
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I also agree that a power meter combined with an HRM is going to be way more accurate than HRM only. HRM is sufficient for most people though.


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True but LT is just the heart rate you can only maintain for 1 hour, a pretty arbitrary unit of time as far as your bodies going. I think going anaerobic happens at higher heart rates than LT.
Just to be clear, my comments (and Hocam's as well) were discussing percentages of max heart rate. E.g. 70-80% = aerobic, 80-90% = anaerobic, 90-100% = vo2 max.

Obviously these are more guidelines than hard and fast rules, but it's accurate enough to use as a guide both for training and events.

LT is your "lactate threshold," i.e. the point at which lactic acid is produced faster than you're metabolizing it. I.e. it's not based on time, it's based on effort. Where is your definition coming from?
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Old 02-05-08, 07:36 AM   #11
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I thought your LT was the maximum heart rate you could hold for 1 hour?

Also, riding by power does sound like another great way to quantify things, I didn't realize there were many LD riders that used it.
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Old 02-05-08, 08:59 AM   #12
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LT is your "lactate threshold," i.e. the point at which lactic acid is produced faster than you're metabolizing it. I.e. it's not based on time, it's based on effort. Where is your definition coming from?
One of the methods of roughly determining LT (for us poor folks) is time trialing for between 30-60 minutes until exhuasted and then taking the average heartrate. That is probably what he was coming from.
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Old 02-05-08, 07:19 PM   #13
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This how I rode until I started riding with my present group, many of whom have been riding together seemingly forever. They taught me to go like stink on the climbs and take it easy on the descents. Once I got strong enough to hang with them on the climbs, I realized that it's a much faster and more efficient way to ride. Simple reason: Power output required is proportional to the cube of your speed. Physics 101. So it's much more efficient to climb hard, where speed is low, and just spin your legs comfortably on the descent. Your total kj will be lower to cover the same distance in the same time.

To say it in other words, when climbing the incremental decrease in total time is much greater with increases in power output, than on the descent, where the incremental decrease in total time with increased power output is much lower because wind resistance is proportional to the square of the speed.

I agree with how comfortable it is to run at constant power, but it's more efficient to lay in the draft of my buddies, who otherwise would be way up the road! This presupposes a certain amount of conditioning, but that's why we do intervals and other intense training, and practice going hard, recovering, and going hard again....
I do a combination of the strategies: I try to push very hard on hills during training rides, even going to my LT or slightly higher because this gets faster gains in fitness. On long rides (brevets and randonnees) I do work harder on hills than on the flats because of the time gains that you describe. I don't go up to my LT, though, because I get exhausted much more quickly and I don't bounce back as well. My LT is at about 155 bpm based on time-trialling. If I push the pace up to near that point on hills I end up with dead legs after a much shorter distance than if I limit my HR to about 140 (90%) or less. Overall this results in a faster ride since I can then avoid the death-march at the end of the long brevet.

My training strategy is different from my brevet ride strategy, in other words. Sometimes I have to remind myself of this, so I wear my HR monitor during shorter brevets and during the first day of longer brevets. After the first 24 hours it doesn't matter because my heart rate doesn't go up nearly as high anyway. If I were racing I wouldn't worry about the HR because if you come off the group you've lost anyway.

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Old 02-05-08, 09:00 PM   #14
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I do a combination of the strategies: I try to push very hard on hills during training rides, even going to my LT or slightly higher because this gets faster gains in fitness. On long rides (brevets and randonnees) I do work harder on hills than on the flats because of the time gains that you describe. I don't go up to my LT, though, because I get exhausted much more quickly and I don't bounce back as well. My LT is at about 155 bpm based on time-trialling. If I push the pace up to near that point on hills I end up with dead legs after a much shorter distance than if I limit my HR to about 140 (90%) or less. Overall this results in a faster ride since I can then avoid the death-march at the end of the long brevet.

My training strategy is different from my brevet ride strategy, in other words. Sometimes I have to remind myself of this, so I wear my HR monitor during shorter brevets and during the first day of longer brevets. After the first 24 hours it doesn't matter because my heart rate doesn't go up nearly as high anyway. If I were racing I wouldn't worry about the HR because if you come off the group you've lost anyway.

Mark W
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What I'm saying. Everyone that finishes anywhere close to me rides exactly as you describe, both in training and on brevets. Except on short brevets 100-200k, I'll go over LT on the 100 and to LT on the 200. But those fall into the training rides category.
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Old 02-06-08, 11:20 AM   #15
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I agree, I've been using power for the last 4 years. It made a difference in my LD riding. I've read that if you ride in anaerobic for a 1/2 hour that it takes 8 hours of rest to totally recover from it.

Ron, you must have been part of the group we saw going south out of Santa Barbara Saturday afternoon.
Nope. Me and another guy left everybody else on the second roller leaving Malibu. At mile 78 he turned to the coast and back to Malibu, saving his legs for Sebring on the 16th. I was solo from there to the end.

Did you see a guy on one of these?

http://web.mac.com/ronsmithjunior/Ba...wheelcover.jpg

There were 35 people on the ride, so you may have seen some of the other people.
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Old 02-06-08, 11:41 AM   #16
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This how I rode until I started riding with my present group, many of whom have been riding together seemingly forever. They taught me to go like stink on the climbs and take it easy on the descents. Once I got strong enough to hang with them on the climbs, I realized that it's a much faster and more efficient way to ride. Simple reason: Power output required is proportional to the cube of your speed. Physics 101. So it's much more efficient to climb hard, where speed is low, and just spin your legs comfortably on the descent. Your total kj will be lower to cover the same distance in the same time.

To say it in other words, when climbing the incremental decrease in total time is much greater with increases in power output, than on the descent, where the incremental decrease in total time with increased power output is much lower because wind resistance is proportional to the square of the speed.

I agree with how comfortable it is to run at constant power, but it's more efficient to lay in the draft of my buddies, who otherwise would be way up the road! This presupposes a certain amount of conditioning, but that's why we do intervals and other intense training, and practice going hard, recovering, and going hard again.

Many LD riders advocate coasting on all descents, and they may be right, but I find it just fine to keep a tight chain under about 35 mph. If I were doing RAAM, I would certainly coast!

It's true that HR does not give an accurate assessment of power. But RPE can fill in while HR changes to a steady state. HR does give an accurate assessment of the chemical pathways being utilized to produce the current forward motion. Much more accurate than power, which could care less where it comes from, hence the utility of a HRM on LD rides.
What you are not taking into account (riding hard on the climbs, and relatively easy on the descents) is the physiological stress you body is going through by making the big effort on the uphills. It counts against you in the long term.

FYI (to everybody else), this is something to think about regardless of how you measure your output. In the world of power meters, Cycling Peaks, now known as Training Peaks, which is one of the biggest names in power meter software for your PC, uses something called "normalized power". Take a look at the this:

http://www.midweekclub.ca/powerFAQ.htm#Q16

I agree that this changes when you are trying to hang with a group, or trying to get the absolute best performance over a course where you know you will stay strong, regardless of how you ride. Having a group dynamic to work within, or having a lot of climbing, can change things.

Something else you mentioned, which somebody noted later, is doing intervals for getting stronger. Starting with a good base, I think intervals helps everybody. They don't even have to be that structured (goodness know mine aren't). The Saturday morning ride I do with the San Diego Bike Club simulates intervals. Time after time I am putting a big effort into staying near the front.

I apologize is this discussion is straying too far from HRMs. The concepts behind using the devices are similar.
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