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  1. #1
    Cranks McGivins eavonius's Avatar
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    High heart rate all the time - so frustrated!

    So I started cycling with a heart rate monitor last year - had only been riding recreationally about a year before that, and my heart rate during the ride always seems to be between 151-165 bps. I never really got organized with my training but I bought Joe Friel's book last year and planned to do a real routine this year. However with work I ended up just riding 6 days a week for about 1 hour to 1 hour and a half with one day off (Sunday) for most of April, May, June, and July. I keep forgetting to take a week off every month (periodization) to let myself rest, and 6 days a week is diminishing returns according to Joe (should be max 5 days).

    Anyway I started doing group rides on Sundays a couple months ago and on the last two times I went, my heart rate was like 160-185 the whole time. I took a few days off and when I went riding with a friend of mine down the street, who is ex-cat 2 we were riding together and my heart rate was in the high 170s while his was 110! The odd thing is he said when his heart rate is that high he's near his highest exertion level and feels like he's giving it all he's got and can barely talk - while I'm sweaty but holding a conversation.

    So I took 5 days off, thinking I might be overtrained and went out today (6 days later) after reading Joe Friels book again to try and do a basic endurance workout in easy heart rate zones. I've never tried to ride in zone 1 and 2 before for an entire ride (max heart rate 132 for zone 2 for my age, 32) and as soon as I get on the bike and pedal easy, I'm already in the 120s. I don't feel like I'm exerting myself barely and my heart rate spikes to 150 super easy. It's near impossible to keep it at or below 132!

    It was 98 degress out when I went out today (I'm in Austin, TX) so maybe the heat has something to do with it? Anyway I'm SO frustrated, I feel like I've been riding in zone 3-4 for my entire rides for a year or whatever and now my heart rate is all screwed. I just want to be able to go out for an "easy" ride where my heart rate stays down, but today I was so pissed I just couldn't do it no matter how lightly I pedaled.

    I came home and put the strap from my old polar on (I use a Garmin now) and got on the bike for a quick spin on the trainer and the HR was the same - just wanted to make sure I wasn't suffering from a broken heart rate monitor.

    Can anyone help? Anyone have this happen to them, or know of some advice? Sorry that took so long to explain I was just hoping the background might provide some clues for someone in the know.

    Thanks in advance.

  2. #2
    Senior Member reef58's Avatar
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    Look at the 2 x 20's thread at the top of the page. You need to know your max rate and your rate at threshold. It is hard to plan something with a bunch of random numbers.

    Good luck,
    Richard

  3. #3
    just another gosling Carbonfiberboy's Avatar
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    Aw, you're still a newbie. Your heart is still a bit small and weak. Give it time. Most folks experience exactly the same thing when they start riding. We get this a lot on this forum. Don't worry about it. Overtraining symptom is low HR during exercise, like your buddy's. High HR is more a symptom of undertraining.

    You'll find that Friel's book is designed for people who've been riding quite a while. The zones and all that may seem like nonsense during your early period. I was the same way. I'd just get on my bike and being doing 150. Ride for 4 hours, 150+ all the way, and that was when I was 50! My max HR then was ~185. LT was about 165. After a couple years of year-round riding, I was down into Friel territory and then was able to do zone 2 rides. Max HR was about the same.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by eavonius View Post

    Anyway I'm SO frustrated, I feel like I've been riding in zone 3-4 for my entire rides for a year or whatever and now my heart rate is all screwed. I just want to be able to go out for an "easy" ride where my heart rate stays down, but today I was so pissed I just couldn't do it no matter how lightly I pedaled.
    While there are any number of things that will affect your heart rate, the biggest influence is quite simply genetics. If you don't feel any ill effects from an elevated heart rate, then I would say that it is probably just your norm. Certainly, you can train your body, and your heart will respond as well, but only to a limit.

    I have a relatively high heart rate, and consider myself well above average, when it comes to fitness. When I was 20 to 25ish, and in the Army, I could quite easily push my heart rate to over 210 bpm. I was by no means unfit at the time, and was capable of 11 min 2 mile runs, and could run 8 minute miles all day long. My resting heart rate was in the neighborhood of 75. any exertion at all would push it to 120-140.

    My resting heart rate is not much different, but at near 50, I can't hang at that 180-200 range for very long, but am still quite fit, and can hold 160 -170 pretty much indefinitely. I haven't ridden with a monitor lately, so even those numbers may have drifted somewhat. The point is, I have been training my body for close to 35 years, and it isn't likely to change significantly.

    You can get all frustrated about it because you read some generic book about what it "should" be, or you can ignore it and find your own norm.

    Personally, I think it's silly to go off some nonsense that is at best a generic guideline, and then get all frustrated because it doesn't seem to fit. We are all built a little different.

  5. #5
    umd
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    HR means nothing as a comparison between people. It sounds like you just have a naturally high HR.

  6. #6
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    The heat also adds some to the predicted heart rate. I would estimate for me it is about 15 BPM, the circulation going into the skin to cool the body. It's like your car's thermostat kicking in at a given temperature to run antifreeze through the radiator. If you think something's not quite right, be sure to get a thyroid check (routine type of blood test) and maybe a blood count: anemia could cause rapid pulse. Avoid excessive stimulants, caffeine, mau huang etc. Good luck.

  7. #7
    Cranks McGivins eavonius's Avatar
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    Thanks for all the comments everyone, really. Perhaps I am still just a super newb when it comes to cycling. I love this sport, and ride addicted as all hell but I always seem to ride with a high heart rate. I might go get some tests run just to make sure as well.

  8. #8
    Dan J chinarider's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by eavonius View Post
    Anyway I started doing group rides on Sundays a couple months ago and on the last two times I went, my heart rate was like 160-185 the whole time. I took a few days off and when I went riding with a friend of mine down the street, who is ex-cat 2 we were riding together and my heart rate was in the high 170s while his was 110! The odd thing is he said when his heart rate is that high he's near his highest exertion level and feels like he's giving it all he's got and can barely talk - while I'm sweaty but holding a conversation.

    So I took 5 days off, thinking I might be overtrained and went out today (6 days later) after reading Joe Friels book again to try and do a basic endurance workout in easy heart rate zones. I've never tried to ride in zone 1 and 2 before for an entire ride (max heart rate 132 for zone 2 for my age, 32) and as soon as I get on the bike and pedal easy, I'm already in the 120s. I don't feel like I'm exerting myself barely and my heart rate spikes to 150 super easy. It's near impossible to keep it at or below 132!
    AS others have said, the raw numbers are meaningless. To properly use zones, you have to have an accurate fix on MHR, either by direct or indirect (i.e. the 2x20 test, for example) testing. I'll turn 57 Monday & I can't ride below 132. Most of my rides average in the 150's with peaks in the 180s (occasionally 190s). That doesn't make me more or less fit than others. It just means that I have a statistically high MHR. Your ex cat-2 buddy evidently has a statistically low MHR. The only significance of MHR is you have to know it (or LTHR) to intelligently use HR training. You're better off using perceived effort than using MHR from a "formula".

    Dan
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  9. #9
    Cranks McGivins eavonius's Avatar
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    Thanks alot guys. I slept very well last night, ate a decent breakfast and did the test for lactate threshold (pretty much same as 2x20 i think) via the 30 minute time trial described in Friel's book taking average heart rate of last 20 minutes. Man I was pushing myself pretty hard but I came up with 174 as ave heart rate for the last 20 minutes! So much higher than I thought. I looked at the chart in Friels' book that sets zones based on LTH and it seems zone 2 is more inline with what my heart rate is when I'm riding easily. I should have done this a while ago, this is really going to help me plan my training better!

  10. #10
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    If one has time constraints, is there anything wrong with cycling for one hour, three times a week, at time trial intensity?

  11. #11
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    An interesting question is what is your resting heart rate? Also what is your resting blood pressure?
    You may have an undiagnosed medical condition - so a trip to the doctor might be reassuring?
    I'm no medical expert but they normally advise people who are considering strenuous exercise to check with their doctor first.

  12. #12
    Beardo
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    Do you have allergies? Genetically my Dad is in pretty okay shape (at 52 his FTP is 270 watts) and his "we're tooling around town" HR is around 125~135 where mine is around 150-160. My FTP is around 290 watts (and continuing to grow ) and my resting HR is high 40's low 50's. My resting HR 6 months ago was around 80-90 and my FTP was 260 - it coincided with me getting allergy shots. I wasn't out of shape either. I can only judge myself by the same standards as the Army dog above did (since I was in the Marine Corps and ran more than biked) and I could run ~21 minute 3 miles, 9 minute 1.5 miles, and around 5 flat 40 yard dashes.

    Edit: Mixed up LTP and FTP.
    Last edited by tonski; 08-25-09 at 04:18 PM.

  13. #13
    Packfodding 3 caloso's Avatar
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    Everyone is different. That whole 220 minus age is completely bogus. Test your actual max HR or approximate it with 2x20.
    Cyclists of the world, unite! You have nothing to lube but your chains!

  14. #14
    umd
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    Quote Originally Posted by tonski View Post
    Do you have allergies? Genetically my Dad is in pretty okay shape (at 52 his LTP is 270 watts) and his "we're tooling around town" HR is around 125~135 where mine is around 150-160. My LTP is around 290 watts (and continuing to grow ) and my resting HR is high 40's low 50's. My resting HR 6 months ago was around 80-90 and my LTP was 260 - it coincided with me getting allergy shots. I wasn't out of shape either. I can only judge myself by the same standards as the Army dog above did (since I was in the Marine Corps and ran more than biked) and I could run ~21 minute 3 miles, 9 minute 1.5 miles, and around 5 flat 40 yard dashes.
    What's LTP?

  15. #15
    Beardo
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    Lactate Threshold Power.

    My HR currently can get around 203 before I start having problems and I'm 25.

    Edit: (Sorry, I started using power when I got out of the military as a gift to myself for getting out).
    Last edited by tonski; 08-25-09 at 04:02 PM.

  16. #16
    umd
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    It's more common to talk about Functional Threshold Power (FTP)

  17. #17
    Beardo
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    Quote Originally Posted by umd View Post
    It's more common to talk about Functional Threshold Power (FTP)
    Okay. I mixed them up (fixed in my original post and annotated).

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