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Old 05-25-12, 12:07 AM   #1
billydonn
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Training Question: Why is my HR staying so low?

I trained all winter doing indoor intervals on a trainer, running my HR way up (150 to 160... I'm 64) on a regular basis. I felt great and was strong in my earlier rides outdoors. Now after about six weeks riding outside and putting on a lot of miles (for me) I'm just not getting the HR up there for some reason. My rides aren't any slower in terms of average speed than normal and I don't feel all that weak but I rarely even hit "tempo" pace above 130 or so, and I have done entire 90 minute + rides in that zone before.

I'm in an endurance phase building up to a weeklong supported tour next month but still... I'd like to get into zone four or five once in awhile. I'm not training more than five days a week and my rides usually don't exceed three hours. My lungs feel fine but my rides seem to be more limited by leg fatigue than by oxygen delivery. Am I somehow overtrained and needing a break? Should I replace my HR monitor battery? This is a little weird.

Advice is welcome.
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Old 05-25-12, 07:03 AM   #2
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Maybe you need some rest.
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Old 05-25-12, 08:36 AM   #3
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Yeah, you overcooked yourself. This is entirely normal and expected. I don't start intervals until about February. Winter is for LSD and weight training. Cut way back on both volume and intensity. Make one or two rides pure Z1 on the trainer, 45'. Outdoors, 45' again, not over Z2 or probably about 125HR for you. Do that for a week, then test yourself with a harder ride. If it's still not normal, do the easy rides for another week. You should be able to easily reach your previous trainer HRs on the road. If you can't, you're still cooked. OTOH, you don't want to take time completely off or you'll lose fitness. Training at the edge is always a little tricky.

You can easily assess your training state by taking your morning resting and standing-resting HRs. Graph them in a SS or use an computer or online training log. Start now.
How to check for overtraining:
http://www.pponline.co.uk/encyc/0410.htm
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Old 05-25-12, 08:57 AM   #4
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I'm missing the problem. You say you haven't slowed down and you're not complaining of being tired. Your only complaint is your HR doesn't seem high enough. It's normal for HR to get lower for a given power output with increasing fitness. I suspect it was easy to get your HR up on the trainer because you can never have a big enough fan to provide the kind of cooling you get when riding outdoors. That doesn't mean you were any faster or putting out more power though.

Ideally, you would have a powermeter and be able to measure your progress. Alternative measures would be to use your trainer or time yourself up a hill. If the trainer has a known speed-power curve you can compare your speed now vs what you were doing in the winter.

My other thought is regarding your composition of intensity during the week. What does a typical week look like for you? You should have 2 or 3 hard days and the rest should be easier. If you're trying to ride the same pace all the time it doesn't surprise me that you aren't able to get your HR up. You'll still improve but not as fast as you might if you mixed it up more.
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Old 05-25-12, 09:09 AM   #5
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I'm missing the problem. You say you haven't slowed down and you're not complaining of being tired. Your only complaint is your HR doesn't seem high enough. It's normal for HR to get lower for a given power output with increasing fitness. I suspect it was easy to get your HR up on the trainer because you can never have a big enough fan to provide the kind of cooling you get when riding outdoors. That doesn't mean you were any faster or putting out more power though.

Ideally, you would have a powermeter and be able to measure your progress. Alternative measures would be to use your trainer or time yourself up a hill. If the trainer has a known speed-power curve you can compare your speed now vs what you were doing in the winter.

My other thought is regarding your composition of intensity during the week. What does a typical week look like for you? You should have 2 or 3 hard days and the rest should be easier. If you're trying to ride the same pace all the time it doesn't surprise me that you aren't able to get your HR up. You'll still improve but not as fast as you might if you mixed it up more.

He said that his legs got tired. The way I understand it, if the muscles are tired, they can't work as hard and will require less oxygen, which in turns resulting in lower heart rate. I'm sure this is an oversimplication.
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Old 05-25-12, 12:17 PM   #6
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He said that his legs got tired. The way I understand it, if the muscles are tired, they can't work as hard and will require less oxygen, which in turns resulting in lower heart rate. I'm sure this is an oversimplication.
Legs are supposed to get tired Mine get tired on every hard ride.
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Old 05-29-12, 05:03 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by Carbonfiberboy View Post
Yeah, you overcooked yourself. This is entirely normal and expected. I don't start intervals until about February. Winter is for LSD and weight training. Cut way back on both volume and intensity. Make one or two rides pure Z1 on the trainer, 45'. Outdoors, 45' again, not over Z2 or probably about 125HR for you. Do that for a week, then test yourself with a harder ride. If it's still not normal, do the easy rides for another week. You should be able to easily reach your previous trainer HRs on the road. If you can't, you're still cooked. OTOH, you don't want to take time completely off or you'll lose fitness. Training at the edge is always a little tricky.

You can easily assess your training state by taking your morning resting and standing-resting HRs. Graph them in a SS or use an computer or online training log. Start now.
How to check for overtraining:
http://www.pponline.co.uk/encyc/0410.htm
Took it very easy riding HR zone 2 max for a couple days and it seems to have helped. Half of my three hour ride today was in zone 3 and I felt much better and made good power for me. Still missing about 10 pct of the HR I'm capable of so will return to easy riding tomorrow.

FYI...LSD isnt in the cards here in winter outside so we do low volume high intensity work on the trainers with lots of rest. I don't race by the way.... Just want to be competent. And thanks for that link on overtraining.

Last edited by billydonn; 05-29-12 at 05:06 PM.
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Old 05-29-12, 05:37 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by billydonn View Post
Took it very easy riding HR zone 2 max for a couple days and it seems to have helped. Half of my three hour ride today was in zone 3 and I felt much better and made good power for me. Still missing about 10 pct of the HR I'm capable of so will return to easy riding tomorrow.

FYI...LSD isnt in the cards here in winter outside so we do low volume high intensity work on the trainers with lots of rest. I don't race by the way.... Just want to be competent. And thanks for that link on overtraining.
Good job. It's easy to see whether one has over or undercooked - simply by taking a few days easy! And that's the way to do it - go out and rev it up and check to see what you can do. If you can't make your numbers, take more easy days.

Nebraska - yeah it snows there sometimes, doesn't it. Drove through the worst snowstorm of my life there, and I'm from Alaska. What I do is ride rollers in the winter during the week. I'm in the PNW, so I can get out one weekend day almost every week. But I get most of my mileage on the rollers. On the rollers, I do a lot of zone 2, some long FastPedal intervals (115 cadence or what one can manage), also some weights at the gym, a spin class at the gym, and some low cadence Z3 intervals toward spring. So I do get a little interval work at spin class and on the weekend ride, but I make sure I don't do enough to cause me to short myself on the lower intensity rides. Or at least that's what I try to do.
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Old 05-29-12, 07:17 PM   #9
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Good job. It's easy to see whether one has over or undercooked - simply by taking a few days easy! And that's the way to do it - go out and rev it up and check to see what you can do. If you can't make your numbers, take more easy days.

Nebraska - yeah it snows there sometimes, doesn't it. Drove through the worst snowstorm of my life there, and I'm from Alaska. What I do is ride rollers in the winter during the week. I'm in the PNW, so I can get out one weekend day almost every week. But I get most of my mileage on the rollers. On the rollers, I do a lot of zone 2, some long FastPedal intervals (115 cadence or what one can manage), also some weights at the gym, a spin class at the gym, and some low cadence Z3 intervals toward spring. So I do get a little interval work at spin class and on the weekend ride, but I make sure I don't do enough to cause me to short myself on the lower intensity rides. Or at least that's what I try to do.
Yeah, sometimes you can ride all winter here but the last two have been pretty much a three-month lockdown. Fortunately we have a group of good friends that has started training in a very nice studio above one guy's garage. We meet Wed and Sun and it's always all about intensity... none of us can stand the boredom of long hours on a trainer. We all work at a university building that has excellent fitness facilities so we also do core and strength work on our own as we can fit it in. So I have to get in my mileage through long rides in the spring and summer, fitting in special events like weeklong supported tours, etc. I'm 64 and have just been riding for four years (from really being in very poor shape) so I'm still learning to adapt to the volume of training that others consider routine. I'm sure I do too many rides of the same intensity during the outdoor season and need to dial it back more.

Our 2011-12 indoor training season is covered (with lots of pics and a video) here:
http://www.bikeforums.net/showthread...-12?highlight=

Anyway... thanks again for the advice. I need to lurk around this forum more often I think.
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Old 05-29-12, 07:44 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by gregf83 View Post
I'm missing the problem. You say you haven't slowed down and you're not complaining of being tired. Your only complaint is your HR doesn't seem high enough. It's normal for HR to get lower for a given power output with increasing fitness. I suspect it was easy to get your HR up on the trainer because you can never have a big enough fan to provide the kind of cooling you get when riding outdoors. That doesn't mean you were any faster or putting out more power though.

Ideally, you would have a powermeter and be able to measure your progress. Alternative measures would be to use your trainer or time yourself up a hill. If the trainer has a known speed-power curve you can compare your speed now vs what you were doing in the winter.

My other thought is regarding your composition of intensity during the week. What does a typical week look like for you? You should have 2 or 3 hard days and the rest should be easier. If you're trying to ride the same pace all the time it doesn't surprise me that you aren't able to get your HR up. You'll still improve but not as fast as you might if you mixed it up more.
Greg,
Thanks for your post... it did help. I should have made it more clear that yes, I did feel kind of tired when I first posted. I'm sure I need to vary the intensity of my rides more. To attempt to rephrase my issue, it kind of feels like I'm missing the top gear that corresponds to the top 10% of my HR range. So I'm in need of backing off when my HR goes into the mid 140s. I do have a powermeter and I'm putting out okay wattage (for me) but can't sustain it for very long. (See my response to carbonfiberboy.)

FYI I haven't ruled out a possible mild lung infection being a factor in this... I am prone to those things.
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