Join Date: Jun 2001
Location: living in the moment
Bikes: 2005 Litespeed Teramo, 2000 Marinoni Leggero, 2001 Kona Major Jake (with Campy Centaur), 1997 Specialized S-Works M2, 1992 Specialized Rockhopper
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The colour areas represent different metabolic zones. That is, zones of intensity where different metabolic pathways are used to produce energy. I'm not quite sure how you have your zones calculated, but mine are
1 - up to 55% [blue]
2 - up to 65% [green]
3 - up to 75% [yellow]
4 - up to 85% [orange]
5 - up to 95% [pink]
6 - up to 100% [red]
I've calculated my anaerobic threshold [the point where my body produces energy anaerobically] at about 88%. I can spend about 90 minutes there [as in a cyclocross race], but it hurts like Hell. Mostly, I train above AT in intervals.
So... what does this mean? Time in zone 3 is low-aerobic, endurance training -- base miles, recovery, etc. Time in zone 4 is high-aerobic, endurance type training. In these zones, you improve your cardio-vascular fitness, burn fat reserves, etc. Most people can work below TA indefinitely. Time in zone 5 is anaerobic, usually interval training. In this zone, you're training for maximum effort, using raw muscle power. You can train your body to use aerobic pathways and push your AT higher by training with intervals. This is called "threshold training."
There's not really much benefit in training above 95%.
You owe it to yourself to get a book, like the Sally Edwards book, or one of the Joe Friels books. They explain this stuff better than me.
Judging from your graph, I'd say you were putting out maximal effort -- really working hard -- for most of the time. You probably experience an oxygen debt at about 15 minutes, and your muscles probably started feeling sore and tight around 25 minutes. You would not be able to maintain this level of exertion for much longer than the 42 minutes without great discomfort, and you were probably gulping for air for a lot of the time.
BTW... your max is probably higher than 185.