I am a 51 year old, 180 lb. 5'11" male. Never a problem with BP, cholesterol low. My max HR is ~170 according to most formulas. I consider myself to be in reasonably good health and average about 7 hours of exercise per week.
My problem is that I frequently exceed my max HR. When climbing hard my HR will usually hit 187-189 and I'm just starting to breath heavy. A lot of times I'll be clicking along at what I feel is a good sustainable pace and I'll see that my HR is 172. My perceived effort seems way off from my actual HR.
I guess my first question is am I killing myself? I don't feel like I'm pressing that hard, but I do take care to keep my HR down, just in case. If I just let myself go, my HR will average 160+ over a two hour ride (based on actual recorded results).
Second, if this is "normal", what do I consider as my max HR for training zones? Should I be basing exercise zones on theoritical max HR or my actual recorded max HR?
Just for the record, I am scheduled to see my family doc for an annual checkup and will discuss with him. I'd let to hear from people who specialize more in training, though.