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I need help understanding my HRM

Old 08-17-16, 01:05 PM
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NYMXer
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I need help understanding my HRM

I just got a Wahoo TickR HRM and used it today for the first time. Here is my Strava ride, a one hour loop that I rode at about 90% effort. Another thing I did was no coasting, aka "I never stopped pedaling" on the downhills. I never rode this loop before, just winged it at an estimate hour ride (I was close) and got a little lost so I went about a mile further than the loop really is. This is a relatively flat ride for me as a normal ride is 700-800 ft of climbing per 10 miles, sometimes a little more.

https://www.strava.com/activities/67...ts/16655385245

About me, 58 years old, 220 pounds, pretty fast and fit. I ride with the fastest B group or a lower A (if I feel strong and have my cape with me).

So, can someone please help me understand what this data means and if it is saying good stuff or bad about my conditioning and effort. Any tips, hints or advice?

Thank you in advance.
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Old 08-17-16, 01:27 PM
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It only means something relative to yourself. Over time you'll be able to correlate things like effort and how you're feeling to heart rate ranges, then use your current heart rate on a ride to help pace yourself or perhaps interpret your effort vs performance if it's changed.

As an example for _me_ I might head out at the start of a ride too fast for a long ride's pace but I feel great so I don't think I'm going too fast. However, checking my HR and seeing it's for instance 180-ish, I know I'm riding too hard.

I know what heart rates I'm ok at for longer rides, vs shorter efforts, so rather than just relying on feel, I can look at a number as a more objective measure.

It can also be something to explain when what you're used to seeing is now different. For instance, you might think it's higher than it should be, which might be due to something about your hydration or how hot it is out.
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Old 08-17-16, 02:01 PM
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Thanks DonBjr for the information.

So, I looked up my HR zones and according to the chart, this was an "all out intensity", but it didn't feel no where near all out, but it was a high effort the whole ride. I didn't feel like I was going real hard, just a regular ride but I pedaled on the down hills. I'd say it was a 90% effort, I sure had more but wasn't looking to get KOM's.

I just checked my rest rate, it was around 60. My normal BP is 118/72

Your maximum heart rate is: 162 beats per minute.
Your calculated heart rate zones:
Light intensity, 50-60% of MHR: from 81 to 97 beats per minute.
Moderate intensity, 60-70% of MHR: from 97 to 113 beats per minute.
Intense, 70-80% of MHR: from 113 to 130 beats per minute.
Very intense, 80-90% of MHR: from 130 to 146 beats per minute.
All out intensity, 90-100% of MHR: from 146 to 162 beats per minute.
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Old 08-17-16, 02:34 PM
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You probably can't go by that zone chart (based on age I assume?). Your zone chart would be established by your own max hr, which you discover/measure through some maximal efforts.

The only way I ever see my max hr, for instance, is if I first get my HR up a bit, then go into an 'all out effort' that might last a minute or so, but additionally I sprint even harder at the end. For me at age 52, my max HR is about 195 or so. It's different for other people same age or not.

A hard effort for me (e.g. trying to beat a pr on a segment that might take 15-20min) is low 180's. I can go hours in low 160's, but a century ride where I'm getting tired at the end would drop me into the 140's by the end. My resting HR can be as low as 50, but typically just sitting around it might be closer to 60.

Max HR is genetics and there doesn't seem to be anything good or bad about what it might be that you can say about someone's fitness. It will decrease with age. I don't think it can be trained higher. Training will lower your resting rate, recovery times, and of course the performance you can get out of a given effort.
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Old 08-17-16, 02:48 PM
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Originally Posted by NYMXer View Post
So, can someone please help me understand what this data means and if it is saying good stuff or bad about my conditioning and effort. Any tips, hints or advice?
Ride as fast as you can at a steady pace for 30 minutes. You'll probably need a few tries to get that level right without wearing yourself out early or doing less than you can. It should be very, very hard.

After spending an hour at that pace setting the world hour record Eddy Merckx said

"It's very, very hard,"
"I couldn't walk for a few days after I did it. That's how hard it is."

Take your average heart rate over the last 20 minutes so you're not including samples over the time it takes to catch up to your effort.

That's your lactate threshold heart rate.

Everything else is relative to that.

Estimated maximum heart rate is garbage with a 12 bpm standard deviation. Two out you have a 48 bpm range around a given effort, so a measurement relative to the estimated number could vary from easy to not physically possible.

Determining actual maximum heart rate (don't eat for a few hours before that because you'll throw up) is better, but the difference between lactate threshold and maximum heart rate varies too much to be useful for training purposes.

Last edited by Drew Eckhardt; 08-17-16 at 03:07 PM.
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Old 08-17-16, 03:09 PM
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Originally Posted by NYMXer View Post
So, can someone please help me understand what this data means and if it is saying good stuff or bad about my conditioning and effort. Any tips, hints or advice?
Strava is really frustratingly clumsy compared to Garmin Connect. I don't think you can get a time in zone chart without paying for it.

As others have said, this is mostly relative to you. With time you'll see what different levels of effort do to your ticker, and also how the temperature and how much water you've had affect it. From that point, it's a pretty good pacing tool. (My LTHR is 165 bpm, I can run an hour or more without stopping if I stay below that number but need to slow down and recover if I spend much time above it.) You can also use this as a decent way to evaluate the quality of a workout.

Originally Posted by NYMXer View Post
Thanks DonBjr for the information.

So, I looked up my HR zones and according to the chart, this was an "all out intensity", but it didn't feel no where near all out, but it was a high effort the whole ride. I didn't feel like I was going real hard, just a regular ride but I pedaled on the down hills. I'd say it was a 90% effort, I sure had more but wasn't looking to get KOM's.

I just checked my rest rate, it was around 60. My normal BP is 118/72

Your maximum heart rate is: 162 beats per minute.
Your calculated heart rate zones:
Light intensity, 50-60% of MHR: from 81 to 97 beats per minute.
Moderate intensity, 60-70% of MHR: from 97 to 113 beats per minute.
Intense, 70-80% of MHR: from 113 to 130 beats per minute.
Very intense, 80-90% of MHR: from 130 to 146 beats per minute.
All out intensity, 90-100% of MHR: from 146 to 162 beats per minute.
I'm not sure if that 162 bpm max comes from a formula (220-58=162) or from the max during that ride you linked to on Strava? Either way it's probably not correct. The best way I know of to find your actual max heart rate (if there is such a thing, it's a bit of a slippery concept) is an all out effort. It's better to base your zones on your lactate threshold heart rate if possible.
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Old 08-17-16, 03:11 PM
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Originally Posted by Drew Eckhardt View Post
Ride as fast as you can at a steady pace for 30 minutes. You'll probably need a few tries to get that level right without wearing yourself out early or doing less than you can. It should be very, very hard.

After spending an hour at that pace setting the world hour record Eddy Merckx said

"It's very, very hard,"
"I couldn't walk for a few days after I did it. That's how hard it is."

Take your average heart rate over the last 20 minutes so you're not including samples over the time it takes to catch up to your effort.

That's your lactate threshold heart rate.
A much, much easier way to find this is to exercise at various intensities and let software work it out based on HRV. It's remarkably accurate if you're fresh when you take the test. Reads low if you're already fatigued when you do it.
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Old 08-17-16, 03:16 PM
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I have never thought that 220 - AGE was very accurate. A long time ago I read other articles about heart rate training and they suggested using 205 - (AGE/2). In the example above that would increase maximum heart rate calculated to 176 bpm from the 162 bpm listed. But like most seasoned riders know, your MHR can change with fitness level and age and is not always close to the mathematical formulas. I only use 205-(AGE/2) as a start of the season kind of thing to put in close enough to start training.
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Old 08-17-16, 03:31 PM
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The 162 was from my ride, it is just a coincidence that it worked out mathematically too. While this was a fast ride, it wasn't my all out effort. I could of held this pace and did another loop, I had a lot of energy left and was not fatigued.
If it matters, it was a "fasted" ride and I probably could have used more hydration before the ride. It's hard to tell when you are sitting in an air conditioned building as to how hot it is outside. I didn't feel dehydrated, tired or fatigued but I sure did feel that I just finished a fast ride.
Thanks for the replies so far, I can see that this is more complex than just looking at numbers. When I saw 162 on the Garmin, I thought I would feel some fatigue, but it felt normal and I had more to give but didn;t want to go "all out" on a trail run, so I went fairly hard but held back a little.
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Old 08-17-16, 03:55 PM
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You might want to do this (for now) and you might find it over the top. In Garmin Connect (so I assume also in Strava) there's a notes field where you can record whatever you like about your ride. Start making a few notes like: RPE on a 1-10, the temp if that's not already there, the fact that you were slightly dehydrated, etc. For me, just the act of taking notes forces me to slow down and pay attention, helps me absorb the info better; the goal here is to spot patterns in how your body reacts.
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Old 08-17-16, 04:05 PM
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Originally Posted by Seattle Forrest View Post
You might want to do this (for now) and you might find it over the top. In Garmin Connect (so I assume also in Strava) there's a notes field where you can record whatever you like about your ride. Start making a few notes like: RPE on a 1-10, the temp if that's not already there, the fact that you were slightly dehydrated, etc. For me, just the act of taking notes forces me to slow down and pay attention, helps me absorb the info better; the goal here is to spot patterns in how your body reacts.
I'm riding for a year as of last week and still have a lot to learn but while I do post a few notes, it is a good suggestion to post "better" notes about each ride.

Thanks again, I love learning about our sport. It is about so much more than just spinning the pedals around!
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Old 08-18-16, 07:12 AM
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Do you notice in trends on your HR if it is about the same or higher or lower?
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Old 08-18-16, 09:19 AM
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You're not going all out on every ride, are you? Your fitness will benefit from some long, moderate rides (where your heart rate stays mostly in zone 2) too.
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Old 08-18-16, 02:18 PM
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Originally Posted by chong67 View Post
Do you notice in trends on your HR if it is about the same or higher or lower?
That was the first time I used the HRM. I'm going out on a club ride in 2 hours, will post the results from that and see how they compare.

And to Seattle Forrest, no, some of my rides are casual, some 1/2 effort and about half are above 80% effort. Most of the club and solo rides are fast, most with friends, esp the GF are easier paced.
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Old 08-18-16, 06:24 PM
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This evenings ride using the HRM. This was a noticeably easier pace than yesterdays solo ride and the monitor showed that.

https://www.strava.com/activities/68...ts/16690356678

3 more miles and 15 more minutes, or about 6 minutes slower over the same distance but this was a group ride and the group sets the pace.
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Old 09-05-16, 04:32 PM
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i don't have a HRM yet but am researching and looking at the forums for suggestions, i just looked up a heart rate chart and found what they want mine at. there was a chart for resting HR mine is in the ball park of an 18 year old (i'm 54) at 47 bpm resting. i'm doing a stress test tomorrow and i'll see what turns up with that.
so the big questions is do i really need a HRM? or is it a gadget to just get more info i may not need?
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Old 09-05-16, 10:03 PM
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An HRM is certainly better than nothing. A power meter is worlds more valuable than an HRM, but as I said, the HRM is better than nothing-- it's greatest value is in showing you when you're nearing your limit. When your HR goes up into the threshold area, and doesn't recover quickly when you stop moving, you're getting close to bonking/overheating/nothing good.

Perceived level of effort is essentially worthless. You cannot guess what level of exertion you're putting out over any amount of time. My average speed on rides has gone up significantly since my addition of a PM, because I'm not limiting myself based on estimating level of effort-- I don't need to guess as to how much gas is left in the tank-- I can just watch the numbers. If I don't watch the numbers, my body will drop into it's comfort zone, right there in the middle of Z2.

As has been pointed out, an HRM isn't very valuable until you've done a self-administered LTHR test, because you don't have any zones to work from. Speed is absolutely NOT an indicator of effort. So do your test-- and go hard. During my most recent FTP/LTHR test, at minute 19 of 20, the thought going through my head was, "Well... here comes breakfast."

And hey, OP-- stop and reset your rides when you're done. The two you posted are like 25 and 73 hours elapsed. You've got a 78 mile ride that looks like it's actually 2 rides over 2 days, with a ~25 hour gap in the middle. I know you're not on Premium, but it really throws TSS/Training Load out the window (In case you ever use the data in another app, or go Premium.)
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Old 09-05-16, 11:06 PM
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I'll be 62 in 4 months. My max HR appears to be at least 171 and every now and then I max to that when I'm going up a particularly steep grade. But I never know that till I get home and look at the record. I use a Wahoo Tickr HR with a cadence foot pod & both synced to Strava & Cyclemeter & iPhone sits in middle jersey pocket. Sometimes I let that Australian lass tell me what's up. I've a TT route where her updates are important on maintaining pace.

Does the data improve performance. No. Does it tell me I'm improving? Yes. Studying segment times, HR, I'm faster upgrade & at a lower HR. Cadence meter keeps me honest on staying at over 85-90 cadence. The most important thing I've learned is that it takes me 30-40 minutes to warm up. So my exercise rides are always 90 minutes +. The HR helps during interval training but I'm careful to not spend to much time above say 160. If I go out for a long endurance pace/recovery ride, I can look at the data and say I made that goal.

Because I frequently ride same hills & same routes the Strava power calcs are repeatable and for me, accurate enough to compare performance across rides. I've learned to know what zones I'm in (when I'm warmed up) by breathing rate so I could probably exercise without a HR. But I like tracking myself, setting goals.
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Old 09-06-16, 01:41 PM
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As other posters have said forget the charts everyone is different. Accuracy of units has been called into question. I was at the gym and had hrm on and also used the one attached to the equipment and got a reading of 110 on my hrm and 145 on the equipment one. Their was also a recent article about the accuracy of different brands of hrm but I cannot remember where I read it. I have a minor heart condition and meds can have a big impact on max and min rates. My doc said don't worry too much about the numbers unless they are crazy and inconsistent but keep riding as it appears to be doing a good job keeping you fit.
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Old 09-06-16, 02:14 PM
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Originally Posted by NYMXer View Post
This evenings ride using the HRM. This was a noticeably easier pace than yesterdays solo ride and the monitor showed that.

https://www.strava.com/activities/68...ts/16690356678

3 more miles and 15 more minutes, or about 6 minutes slower over the same distance but this was a group ride and the group sets the pace.
Why is "Round HillRd" segment showing as a Cat4 climb? 344' 20% took you just over a minute.. awesome! And you were only putting out 94w and HR114 bpm. Don't hold back next time!
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Old 09-06-16, 04:00 PM
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Originally Posted by Jseis View Post
Does the data improve performance.
I can make it up any hill faster with a power meter than I can without one. And the PM is extra weight no matter how you slice it. But it's so incredibly useful as a pacing tool that it improves my performance. Without one, my instinct is to ride too hard at the base of the hill and keep it up until I run out of steam, then limp to the top; sometimes I'll be aware of that and the opposite will play out. But with a power meter, I know what I can do for how long, just pedal at the effort level I can maintain for the amount of time it will take me to get to the top.
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Old 09-06-16, 06:53 PM
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Originally Posted by Seattle Forrest View Post
I can make it up any hill faster with a power meter than I can without one. And the PM is extra weight no matter how you slice it. But it's so incredibly useful as a pacing tool that it improves my performance. Without one, my instinct is to ride too hard at the base of the hill and keep it up until I run out of steam, then limp to the top; sometimes I'll be aware of that and the opposite will play out. But with a power meter, I know what I can do for how long, just pedal at the effort level I can maintain for the amount of time it will take me to get to the top.
Now that is interesting. Do you have any sense of exertion and power? My comment on "improved performance" was over the long haul (months), not immediate. The cadence meter really helps though, keeping a higher cadence. Can you keep a constant power output within a range of say 10 watts?
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Old 09-09-16, 01:05 PM
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Originally Posted by Seattle Forrest View Post
I can make it up any hill faster with a power meter than I can without one. And the PM is extra weight no matter how you slice it. But it's so incredibly useful as a pacing tool that it improves my performance. Without one, my instinct is to ride too hard at the base of the hill and keep it up until I run out of steam, then limp to the top; sometimes I'll be aware of that and the opposite will play out. But with a power meter, I know what I can do for how long, just pedal at the effort level I can maintain for the amount of time it will take me to get to the top.
Great advice and exactly why I want a PM. I basically did the same thing over time by riding the same route 5 times and reviewed my HR on Strava on the tough climbs to determine my max HR on the hills I can maintain without over doing it. Now I know exactly how far I can push to get to the top and max out so I can coast down and recover. However I paid for Strava premium account which actually shows your exact HR on parts of your ride. It really made it worth it in the end, but I have to admit the only reason I got the premium was because it was 50% off because I brought the HR monitor through strava..
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Old 09-09-16, 03:59 PM
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I've been using the HRM for a few weeks now and see some useful information from it. My BPM is comfortable up to 174 and after that, I tend to feel tired sooner. If I stay below 166, I feel like I can go all day.
With this info, I try hard to pace myself and not burn out prematurely and that is helping my times and enjoyment. Then, if I still feel strong, I burn off any extra in "the tank" on the last 3 miles, which includes a 1/2 mile sprint.
So, I have learned from using the HRM but I am sure that I have only scratched the surface.
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