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Heart Rate Zone based training

Old 02-09-22, 06:08 PM
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davethelefty
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Heart Rate Zone based training

Just curious if anyone in our age group is following a training plan based on heart rate zones? I have seen some of these plans online, wanted to know what plan or guidelines you follow, and how you measure heart rate (watch, chest strap, etc.), and finally, how do you review your data?

Also please provide your thoughts around the statement that the more you analyze performance data, the less joy you have on the bike. I ask because Iíve had times when I focused on performance goals of speed and distance so much that I wasnít enjoying my ridesÖ
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Old 02-09-22, 08:41 PM
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I use a power meter and a heart rate monitor (chest strap).

Most of the time, I ride by heart rate. My max is 181. I keep a hard limit to 120. I normally make 240-250 watts at that heart rate. I believe most training spends too much time at very hard efforts that can accumulate in an unhealthy way.

If I am training, I mostly use GoldenCheetah to evaluate my training rides to keep an eye on accumulated stress and to check for break thrus. At the moment, I am just riding by HR. I know if I ride a lot at 115-120 BPM and I am patient, I will get very fit. If you are not technical or analytical, you won't enjoy measuring and analysing your performance data. I enjoy it when I am serious about training. Now? HR is fine. Later in the Spring, I'll get more analytical.
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Old 02-10-22, 05:54 AM
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I donít have a defined training program. but use a HRM and the zones on my Garmin 1030 to sorta define the effort. Indoors on the trainer Iíll have time for the shorter GCN workouts. I use the heart rate, zone graph and zones to give me an idea how hard to work for the effort shown. I did notice wheel speed is also good to go by if one does not have a HRM. Wheel speed also comes up faster so my next step is to make a chart for me.
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Old 02-10-22, 07:10 AM
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SinistreDave,
I'm new to biking, starting last Nov. I was beating myself up until I got a monitor and a plan.

I found a 10 week beginners plan ( https://www.cyclingweekly.com/fitnes...eginner-153317 ) and a Polar HM. Now I'm riding smarter, which results in riding faster and longer.

I started by setting max heart rate by 220 - age = 158. I've dialed that up to 175 by doing max push intervals on the trainer, and am in queue to see my doc about max HR.
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Old 02-10-22, 07:31 AM
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I would describe my riding as more of a "fitness plan" than a "training plan". At my age, with a history of heart issues and a bad knee, I don't ride to get faster. I know that's not going to happen. I take the recommendations of my cardiologist and try to keep my BPM in my 'happy zone' (Aerobic.) Easy to do when riding indoors with Zwift. I do use a Wahoo HRM chest strap.
I also keep my power band in the "Endurance" level. I've found (the hard way) that too much power going through my knee just isn't a good thing. Again, with Zwift, it's easy to do.

Once I transition back to road riding in the spring, both my BPM and Power levels (I have a power meter on the road bike) will often go up a level, as it's not uncommon to encounter some 8%+ grade climbs in the area. My Garmin 1030+ has an alert set at 145 BPM to let me know I'm approaching my maximum heart rate.

Do I obsess over the numbers? No. I have no idea if my FTP has gone up or down. Last time I checked it was about 4 years ago. I use Garmin Connect to see my results.
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Old 02-10-22, 07:41 AM
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I don't have a power meter or measure HR on the bike. No doubt that type of training has it's benefits. I'm just too lazy to have to think about data and try to enjoy the ride. And, I don't want to invest the money in something that doesn't matter very much to me. I clearly see the benefits and the enthusiasm people have for it but at age 75 I just don't want to be "in training" when I'm on the bike. We do have a spin bike/trainer something like a Peloton that measures HR and RPMs and gives readouts about zones. When I do the various programs I am almost exactly where the trainer and program say I should be.
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Old 02-10-22, 09:18 AM
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Originally Posted by GhostRider62 View Post
I use a power meter and a heart rate monitor (chest strap).

Most of the time, I ride by heart rate. My max is 181. I keep a hard limit to 120. I normally make 240-250 watts at that heart rate. I believe most training spends too much time at very hard efforts that can accumulate in an unhealthy way.

If I am training, I mostly use GoldenCheetah to evaluate my training rides to keep an eye on accumulated stress and to check for break thrus. At the moment, I am just riding by HR. I know if I ride a lot at 115-120 BPM and I am patient, I will get very fit. If you are not technical or analytical, you won't enjoy measuring and analysing your performance data. I enjoy it when I am serious about training. Now? HR is fine. Later in the Spring, I'll get more analytical.
Can you share how you arrived at this belief? I have the same max hr as you but I would hardly get anything done at all at 120 bpm. That is a recovery ride for me - I'd be putting out something like 150-60 watts.

I'm far from the most informed, but my understanding is that bpm in the 130's are still considered within Zone 2 (for this max HR). My usual harder rides average in the upper 140's with a peak in the upper 160's (typically over ~3 hours). I'd like to know if I am overlooking data about training accumulating in and unhealthy way.

Thanks.
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Old 02-10-22, 09:32 AM
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Originally Posted by force10 View Post
Can you share how you arrived at this belief? I have the same max hr as you but I would hardly get anything done at all at 120 bpm. That is a recovery ride for me - I'd be putting out something like 150-60 watts.

I'm far from the most informed, but my understanding is that bpm in the 130's are still considered within Zone 2 (for this max HR). My usual harder rides average in the upper 140's with a peak in the upper 160's (typically over ~3 hours). I'd like to know if I am overlooking data about training accumulating in and unhealthy way.

Thanks.
Reading and talking with Cardiologists.

Start with Phil Maffetone's Great Book of Endurance and Racing. Maybe read Zinn's "haywire heart". Almost all of the canned training prescriptions online are aimed at time crunched, younger athletes with lots of intensity on programs that are weeks and not years in duration resulting in a quick plateau of modest improvement

Here is an interesting blog post from an Exercise Physiologist. You need to build your aerobic base. Your engine is too small. Slower can be better. More stroke volume.

Is This Level of VO2 Max Improvement Typical?

I would have to say that this 40% improvement represents one of the largest jumps I have seen, and it’s not typical. However, in my experience, jumps far greater than the 5-15% cited in the literature, with sustained aerobic training, are routine.

In fact, when I model the average response to training across the entire group that I have VO2 and long-term training data for, I see an average shift from 54 to 67 ml/kg/min (a change of 24%) when a long-term, high-volume training plan is undertaken.

Conversely, when a short-term, high-intensity training plan is undertaken, the model shows a maximal increase (in 4-6 weeks) to only 63 ml/kg/min (16%).

So, while a 40% increase in VO2 max may not be considered “typical,” after my experience testing and observing athletes over the past 10+ years, I would have to consider a ~25% increase in VO2 max to be very typical given the right training over a sufficient period of time (the two items missing from those initial studies that suggested high genetic limitations).
https://simplifaster.com/articles/how-trainable-is-vo2-max/

https://www.ahajournals.org/doi/full/10.1161/CIR.0000000000000749

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Old 02-10-22, 11:26 AM
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What is it you are wanting to achieve with your "training plan". And what type of riding, for what duration and do you want to do that in a relaxed way or a high effort way? That really sets the tone for where the conversation should go.

HR zones really are just establishing estimate of how much effort you are putting out and dividing it up so you can see how long you are spending at various levels of effort in your training. You could just randomly assign them and still get benefits if you apply certain rules of training that are common throughout all the various methods of training by HR.

Setting your HR zones to a standard such a %maxHR, %restingHR, %FTHR and other ways produce zones that are at least close enough together to allow us to somewhat compare ourselves to another.

I use to go over my data quite a bit. It didn't kill the joy of me riding. It did help when I understood what the numbers meant and also understood the "why" that made those numbers.

Today I record and save more data than ever on my rides, but I don't look at my Garmin while on the ride near as much as I use to. And many rides don't get reviewed afterward except for looking at the gee-whiz numbers. It's only when I'm actually trying to best a certain time of mine that I get into the data.

Otherwise for me, simply the volume or quantity of my riding helps the most since I have the time to ride a lot. If I was time constrained and had to get better faster and in the least amount of time, then I'd be more into actual "training".
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Old 02-10-22, 12:45 PM
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You're in the 50+ forum, but how old are you? It makes a difference in how you can most profitably train.

I have used a HRM from 1995 to the present and a HRM and a power meter since late 2019. I've used a chest strap and several generations of Polar watches. On the bike, the watch was held by a Polar watch mount. Now I use a Garmin which can display both HR and power.

The weakness of a HRM is that it responds slowly to effort which makes it tricky to use for intervals. The strength of a HRM is that it shows physical stress. That allows it to show more than power. Its display of effort can be modified by exhaustion, dehydration, and low blood sugar for instance. Thus a HRM can present more and more difficult to interpret data than a PM. It takes a lot of riding to learn how to interpret the data presented. Adding a PM makes that interpretation much simpler.

HR is a analogue of oxygen uptake. When your muscles need more or less oxygen, they tell the heart to change its rate. An increase in breathing rate will always precede an increase in HR. That means that breathing rate is a good analogue for HR. There are really only 3 training zones, below VT1, above VT2, and between VT1 and VT2 (google). Those zones are defined by breathing rate, thus locating the HR at these zone boundaries is the first order of business with an HRM.

I upload my date to my TrainingPeaks Premium account for data viewing and analysis. There is other similar software. I find that data increases my enjoyment of the sport because it can answer what's always a big question in training, WHY?

I follow a year-long training plan produced by ancient software which is no longer available. I have tried the usual 12 week programs and found them inadequate for this geezer's needs. 12 weeks is about the time I devote to my fall base training. I start in October looking for a July peak, so I'm just now starting to ride hard. I recommend reading Friel's Cyclist's Training Bible and Fast After 50 to get a good understanding of the training process. That understanding needs to come before embarking on any sort of training plan.

The comment above about riding lots at a moderate intensity is a good point. The intensity recommended is below VT1, so both your breathing and HR will show you where that is. However I live in hilly terrain and am nowhere near as strong as that poster. Thus I can't do that sort of riding outside at all. Outdoors, I ride in all the zones, will I or won't I. I work on the steady moderate pace indoors on my rollers.

I agree the focusing on speed and distance can make one stale. One needs to focus on one's uploaded data. Big difference as you will hopefully see. I highly recommend getting a chest strap for accuracy. I also recommend using Heart Rate Variability (HRV) to assess one's training state. I used to just use morning resting and standing HR tor training state, but after my 60s they became pretty much useless. Old hearts just aren't the same. Now I use those resting HRs plus HRV. Yes, PITA but self-evaluation is the key to successful training. At least numbers give you a reason for why your legs don't work on a specific day. Helps the cyclist's stone hard head to decide to take it easy after all.
https://elitehrv.com/heart-variabili...tible-monitors

Everyone's different: I watch my power, HR, and cadence, nothing else (never watch your speed), but not so much that I don't watch the road. One had to be careful about that. I have a riding buddy who rode right into the back of a parked SUV while fooling with his Garmin and sustained serious injuries.
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Old 02-10-22, 12:49 PM
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In 2019, 2020 I monitored HR but never took to it for training purposes and moved to a power meter for 2021 for training and now I rarely even wear my HR chest strap. Whilst I enjoy an easy social cruise as much as the next person, I do also enjoy training and pushing myself. I get a buzz after reaching personal goals and a hard workout - something not everyone wants from their sport/exercise.

I have a Coach who I train with and he monitors all the data for me but I do follow what is going on via Training Peaks and Strava and listen to what my body tells me and rest appropriately.

Back in the old days, I trained and raced with the only data being a computer that told me my speed, average speed and distance! HR, power meter etc just didn't exist so I'm still fairly tuned in to how I feel and HR-based training just never took hold with me but I definitely see the benefits of power meter training.


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Old 02-10-22, 05:12 PM
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Another vote for HRRV to monitor overreaching

Lots of riding just below LT1 and the aerobic threshold (80-90% of total training time) and a little bit (1-2 hours per week) around or just over VT2 is plenty to get fit.

At VT1, one can talk in several sentences but not talk endlessly but one can ride for hours and hours at this pace.

At VT2, talking is not possible. You're an air sucking machine. One can feel it (lactate of H+ as one prefers) in the legs. This is a hard pace and one can hold it for 30-60 minutes. Recovery from these kind of efforts for older riders isn't as good as younger riders. I notice a big difference in recovery from my mid 50's to my mid 60's.

One does not a HRM or PM to identify those inflections. Just do lots of riding just under VT1 and then do maybe an hour or two (10-20% of the weekly total) at a hard pace.
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Old 02-10-22, 06:01 PM
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Originally Posted by davethelefty View Post
Just curious if anyone in our age group is following a training plan based on heart rate zones? I have seen some of these plans online, wanted to know what plan or guidelines you follow, and how you measure heart rate (watch, chest strap, etc.), and finally, how do you review your data?

Also please provide your thoughts around the statement that the more you analyze performance data, the less joy you have on the bike. I ask because Iíve had times when I focused on performance goals of speed and distance so much that I wasnít enjoying my ridesÖ
I use both HR (Polar OH1 optical armband) and a power meter. I currently follow training plans from Wahoo SYSTM, but slightly modified for my own needs and goal events. I review my data on Training Peaks, intervals.icu and Strava. I've used plans directly from Training Peaks coaches too in the past with good results. Those could be used with HR, or power, or both as I did.

I don't over-analyse my data. I just keep a good focus on my event goals and make sure I'm on track. I monitor my resting HR (using a Fitbit wristband tracker) but not HRV. I generally have a pretty good feeling for when I'm tired or fresh. If in any doubt I just take a bit of extra recovery time.
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Old 02-10-22, 06:26 PM
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Originally Posted by davethelefty View Post
Just curious if anyone in our age group is following a training plan based on heart rate zones? I have seen some of these plans online, wanted to know what plan or guidelines you follow, and how you measure heart rate (watch, chest strap, etc.), and finally, how do you review your data?

Also please provide your thoughts around the statement that the more you analyze performance data, the less joy you have on the bike. I ask because Iíve had times when I focused on performance goals of speed and distance so much that I wasnít enjoying my ridesÖ
When I first got into cycling, I trained by HR. I followed the HR based plan in Chris Carmichael's Time Crunched Cyclist and tracked the data on Training Peaks. The pros are that it's relatively inexpensive and if you follow the plan, you will get fitter. The cons are that it's not that precise and using HR is pretty useless for shorter, harder efforts. Too much lag, too much drift as you get further into your workout, and too much variability due to heat, hydration, and fatigue.

I've used a power meter for about 10 years now. I still wear the HR strap most rides, but mostly to track aerobic decoupling or to keep myself honest when doing long endurance work.

I don't think tracking data detracts from my enjoyment of cycling. I'm one of those people who gets a lot of satisfaction from hitting my targets and tracking my improvements. But as always, YMMV.
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Old 02-10-22, 10:22 PM
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I switched to riding single speed not quite two years ago, so I pretty much always know where I stand just by how I manage the hills and wind.

With the snow and ice lately Iíve been going to the rec center and running and doing weights etc, and it turns out that helps a lot on both strength and conditioning. I did my first ride in two weeks today and was pleased to find I was less winded on the hills while keeping a faster pace than before when I was mainly just riding. Still, I find running is even more brutal and less fun than single speed riding.


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Old 02-10-22, 10:28 PM
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Wow - a lot of good and useful information from everyone. Thank you!

To answer several questions posed of me, Iím a 67 yo rider who primarily does road riding. I recently bought an Apple Watch and several times Iíve gotten HR readings in the 175 range during a ride. Iím not doing anything heroic, no intervals, no climbing. Worst case is trying to maintain a 15-16 mph pace into a headwind.

Using the 220 - age equation my max HR should be 153. Are those 175 readings real? I just thought I should better understand what my HR is doing, and then look into a systematic training plan that focuses on HR to build stamina.
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Old 02-10-22, 10:42 PM
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A long time ago, someone gathered maxHR from a bunch of untrained individuals, graphed it against age and tried to fit a line. They came up with 220-age, but it’s a terrible predictor of an individual’s maxHR, so ignore it. Your max is your max. If you’ve seen 175bpm on your Apple watch, I’d say your maxHR is at least 175.
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Old 02-11-22, 05:28 AM
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Originally Posted by davethelefty View Post
Wow - a lot of good and useful information from everyone. Thank you!

To answer several questions posed of me, Iím a 67 yo rider who primarily does road riding. I recently bought an Apple Watch and several times Iíve gotten HR readings in the 175 range during a ride. Iím not doing anything heroic, no intervals, no climbing. Worst case is trying to maintain a 15-16 mph pace into a headwind.

Using the 220 - age equation my max HR should be 153. Are those 175 readings real? I just thought I should better understand what my HR is doing, and then look into a systematic training plan that focuses on HR to build stamina.
Use this formula and approach if you want to develop the power to make 15-16 mph into the wind. Nothing is simpler or more effective for your goals.

https://philmaffetone.com/180-formula/
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Old 02-11-22, 08:29 AM
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For any individual, these HR formulae are completely useless. Take any two guys of the same age and fitness level and they could have a max HR miles apart. One could be pushing over 200, the other topping out down at 150-160. So any formula that takes a fixed number which you then subtract your age from is about as useful as a chocolate teapot unless you just happen to fall right into the middle of whatever bell curve the formula was based on. 220-age for me is 166, yet my actual max is 191. So that's a totally useless formula for me as are all the others based on fixed point references. I find it far more effective setting HR zones off my known Lactate Threshold, Max HR and resting HR.
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Old 02-11-22, 10:56 AM
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If 220 - age worked, then I'd be 35 years old.

It's just a guess, probably a good starting point for someone to use until they know what theirs actually is.

For those that led a sedentary life and finally started to do some cardio type stuff, it might work out. But that's just a guess on my part.

Going to you max HR isn't an issue for those that have a healthy heart. Though if you haven't been doing fairly hard cardio for a while, I wouldn't recommend you try and max your HR to find out right away. Just get fitter and work up to that over a few months. Some people get a little woozy the first few times the max out. Or at least I did.
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Old 02-11-22, 12:20 PM
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Originally Posted by davethelefty View Post
Wow - a lot of good and useful information from everyone. Thank you!

To answer several questions posed of me, Iím a 67 yo rider who primarily does road riding. I recently bought an Apple Watch and several times Iíve gotten HR readings in the 175 range during a ride. Iím not doing anything heroic, no intervals, no climbing. Worst case is trying to maintain a 15-16 mph pace into a headwind.

Using the 220 - age equation my max HR should be 153. Are those 175 readings real? I just thought I should better understand what my HR is doing, and then look into a systematic training plan that focuses on HR to build stamina.
It is possible that 175 was a bit of atrial flutter. You have to have the number on your handlebars. If it climbs gradually, fine, If it jumps from 135 to175, not fine, see a doctor.

It's best to set your zones off your lactate threshold HR (LTHR), not max HR. Max HR is not good to seek out as we get older. No need to punish our hearts anymore than is necessary to get good results. The "easy" way to find LTHR is to warm up well on a ride, then tackle a long steep-ish climb. Take your effort up to VT2, stay there for a bit, note HR, drop the effort down a bit so that you stop panting, note HR, then take it back up again, note HR. Your HR just below VT2 will be close enough to your LTHR.
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Old 02-11-22, 07:17 PM
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I did heart zone training for a couple of years. It made a huge difference in my performance. But it was too hard to keep a schedule. It meant riding by myself quite a bit, and I'm more of a social rider. So once I got enough performance to keep up with the faster group, I dropped it and stopped improving.
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Old 02-11-22, 08:09 PM
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Originally Posted by BlazingPedals View Post
I did heart zone training for a couple of years. It made a huge difference in my performance. But it was too hard to keep a schedule. It meant riding by myself quite a bit, and I'm more of a social rider. So once I got enough performance to keep up with the faster group, I dropped it and stopped improving.
Yeah, one has to have some sort of a Jones to keep at it. I have a set of resistance rollers for indoor training and play loud rock music. That works for me. I do a group ride every Sunday. That used to be competitive when I was a kid in my 50s or 60s. Now we're just happy to get around the loop, whatever it is. I have a perpetual training plan which encourages me to get on my rollers, but anymore I'm too tired from yesterday. The idea is to train enough to be able to at least finish the effing Sunday ride. As racers have said, "the only reason I race is so I have to train."
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Old 02-11-22, 08:13 PM
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Originally Posted by davethelefty View Post
Also please provide your thoughts around the statement that the more you analyze performance data, the less joy you have on the bike. I ask because Iíve had times when I focused on performance goals of speed and distance so much that I wasnít enjoying my ridesÖ
Clear your handlebars and your mind will follow.

at 70, training to smile on every ride.
It's a fun, healthy, exercise. Not a race for me.


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Old 02-11-22, 08:31 PM
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Originally Posted by davethelefty View Post
Wow - a lot of good and useful information from everyone. Thank you!

To answer several questions posed of me, Iím a 67 yo rider who primarily does road riding. I recently bought an Apple Watch and several times Iíve gotten HR readings in the 175 range during a ride. Iím not doing anything heroic, no intervals, no climbing. Worst case is trying to maintain a 15-16 mph pace into a headwind.

Using the 220 - age equation my max HR should be 153. Are those 175 readings real? I just thought I should better understand what my HR is doing, and then look into a systematic training plan that focuses on HR to build stamina.
"Flapping jersey syndrome" was the name for high HR readings from a chest strap. (sometimes in the 220 range.) It was caused by static electricity on the fabric. I used to see this, and could revert it back to reasonable 110-140 readings by pulling out the jersey, away from the sensor. It would stop once some sweat built up.

I wonder if a jacket can do this to a watch HRM.
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