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Old 05-25-09, 02:51 PM   #1
JoelS
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Sudden, dramatic improvement in cardio fitness

Is this how it works?

I just did a ride I did a week ago and my HR was 10 bpm slower on the climbs at the same pace and they just didn't feel quite as hard. My HR was also lower on the rest of the ride by 8-10bpm. This was a sudden and dramatic improvement.

Is this how it goes? No changes for a long time and then a sudden improvement?

I rode a reasonably fast century on Saturday (15 mph avg, 4500 feet), did a moderate ride yesterday when I first noticed the difference (35 mi, about 1000 feet), and a more hilly ride today (43 mi, 2100 feet).

I'm going to take tomorrow off. Both yesterday and today started off as recovery rides, but I was feeling pretty good so kept going.
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Old 05-25-09, 05:09 PM   #2
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usually, yes.

In my experience though, when I hit a peak like that it usually doesn't last that long...

but when it fades I will still be "better off" than from before the peak.
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Old 05-26-09, 09:28 AM   #3
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Almost every sport uses periodization to "peak" athletes at a certain point. Had you unintentionally tapered before this? i.e. had your intensity and volume been dropped for some reason after training hard for an extended period?
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Old 05-26-09, 11:52 AM   #4
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One theory (and I'm too lazy at the moment to verify) is that when muscles are under stress, they respond by making capillaries for the additional blood supply that is needed, and when the capillaries are in place, blood supply is increased to these new blood vessels. Can't pump new blood until there are vessels to carry it.
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Old 05-26-09, 06:50 PM   #5
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Can be good, can be bad. Question is, when your HR was 10 bpm lower, was your speed the same? If so, why? IOW, why didn't you pick it up 10 beats and get faster, eh? Or was it that it would have been a lot of effort to get those 10 beats that came more easily last week? In that case, it's more probable that you got tired from all those great rides when you felt good and you were about not to feel so good. Not to be a bummer or anything, but you're doing good to take it easy.

It's also possible that you got a sudden increase in fitness, but I'd say that's more like a 10% chance. Since a century is no big deal for you, you've probably been putting in a good bit of weekly mileage for some time, and don't seem to just have discovered intervals or pedaling circles.

If I do a couple of hard rides close together, I can be certain of getting on my rollers the morning after and coming close to setting a personal best for speed at a certain HR. Not from fitness, from having a tired heart (tired glands, really). After I recover for a couple days, my speed at whatever HR will drop again.
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Old 05-26-09, 09:42 PM   #6
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Speed was the same with a lower HR, and the climbs seemed a tad bit easier (comparing on a 1/3 mile 16%, but I haven't got a power meter to really be able to verify). I hadn't tapered off or anything. I've been doing around 125 miles a week (on avg) since Jan 1. Got 2800 miles already on the year. Weekends have 1 good size ride. 75 to 100 miles. During the week is generally short rides or trainer time.

Interestingly, about a week ago I had my fastest run up a nearby 10% that's about 3/4 a mile long. My avg up it was 7.8, which is alot faster than my typical 6.4. I did hit the red zone for a brief bit near the top though. It was a good push up the hill, but the only hill for the ride.

Lastly, my weight has been pretty stable and I haven't made any changes to diet.
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Old 05-27-09, 09:17 AM   #7
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OK. My guess would be that if you had tapered your workload, you'd not see such a dramatic difference in HR. Simple test: go to steep hill that's about 30 minutes away and have at it. If your HR comes up above LT during the climb, you're faster. If not, maybe not so much.

I do that all the time. It's the best way to assess training state. If my HR doesn't come up, I need to take it easier for a while. If it does come up, I'll do repeats, and then need to take it easier again!
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Old 05-27-09, 08:48 PM   #8
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Yeah, it happens. If you keep training with the same consistency afterwards, you usually end up stronger.
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Old 05-27-09, 08:53 PM   #9
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Some days just suck!

This is a common ocurrence. I was just about to add a thread on this very topic. I am currently training ( in California) for the Utah Ulcer Century in August. I have really been feeling good as I improve ( I am 62) and then today I felt like I was dragging 100 pounds behind me. My heart rate was way up and I struggled to finish 25 miles of relatvely rolling hills. I personnly think that it is one of two posibilities. 1. Poor eating habits the day before or 2. an over-training issue.

I hate to take days off, although i know I have to or I don't give my body a chance to re-build. Some days are suppose to be "easy days" but when I get out there I just can't stand it and I think...maybe I'll just go hard for a little bit. I have one stretch that is about 4 miles slightly uphill and it is my "warm-up" streetch when I leave the house. Normally I have a heart rate of about 125 and I feel sluggish as I begin. Today, it was 148 and I considered turning around.

I think the evening meal is very important, but I often go for what I like and not for what I really need.
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