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overtraining, plateauing, heart rate and output

Old 08-17-22, 10:20 PM
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Originally Posted by koala logs View Post
"Carbo loading" is basically taking big meals with lots of carbs the night before you ride (up to a few days prior if going for a big ride) and also at least few hours before the ride itself.

It's not eating a huge meal right before the ride itself. Closer to the ride, you can take in easily absorbed carbs like sugar.
Originally Posted by Iride01 View Post
I don't put much into carb loading. At least not for a person that isn't riding a bike for a living and has a dietician, chef or someone that manages their complete dietary plan and coordinating that with a coach.

If you are going to ride the entire ride in HR zone 2, then likely no carbs are needed. Probably not even during the ride. However if most of your time is going to be HR zone 3 and 4 with some 5 mixed in, you'll be good if you just supplement with carbs while on the ride, either in your bottles or with gels, candy bars or such.

To me the more important thing when not riding is the 45 - 60 minutes after the ride when it's good to continue hydrating and also get carbohydrates along with some protein and that can also be in what you drink or eat.
yeah, i don't eat a huge meal before riding, ever. but for a 4+ hour ride i do try and eat something quickly digestible with a mix of carbs and sugars (e.g. pancakes or pastries.) i never really think about or do anything special the night before, but my diet is pretty carb-heavy (i'm a vegetarian.) on the ride, i bring fruit bars, gatorade, and at a refuel stop will typically grab more of the same, maybe fruit or a cookie or something. however optimal or sub-optimal this may be, none of it has changed in the last year or so. i started out not bringing anything or eating anything but discovered that became very unpleasant around 50 miles in.

my heart rate "zones" are probably not super precise given an arbitrarily low max - which is still higher than my HR has been in sinus rhythm in 10 years:



here's zone summary data for a long, relatively mellow ride - 90% in zones 1-3. average 96bpm. this is a morning ride, i would have taken a half dose of meds, and eaten some pancakes or something an hour before.


and a summary for a harder, all-out effort with few or no stops, 96% in zones 3-4, average 110bpm. this was an evening ride, so 12 hours since taking meds, and probably 6 hours after lunch.


it would be interesting to make a scatter plot of average heart rate for the strongest one hour of every ride to the average power for that same hour. not sure what the easiest way to grab that would be, lots of work clicking around strava. i have the strongest hour power in a spreadsheet, but not the average HR for that same hour.
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Old 08-17-22, 10:28 PM
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Just wanted to say that is damned impressive power at those low heart rates and your average speed with that much climbing is also impressive for someone on heart meds

Total respect!
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Old 08-17-22, 11:35 PM
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Originally Posted by GhostRider62 View Post
Just wanted to say that is damned impressive power at those low heart rates and your average speed with that much climbing is also impressive for someone on heart meds

Total respect!
thanks. i‘d probably be a decent cyclist if my heart wasn’t defective!
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Old 08-18-22, 11:45 AM
  #29  
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So is the 130 max HR a cap by your cardiologist? Or is that all you want to do? If you are constraining that for non medical reasons, then that might be part of the equation for the thing you wish to solve.

Although I can't quite rationalize it in my head yet, perhaps underperforming is what you perceive as overtraining

And then there is also the medication thing that probably needs more thorough investigation and discussion of the side effects and expected effects.

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Old 08-18-22, 12:59 PM
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Originally Posted by Iride01 View Post
So is the 130 max HR a cap by your cardiologist? Or is that all you want to do? If you are constraining that for non medical reasons, then that might be part of the equation for the thing you wish to solve.

Although I can't quite rationalize it in my head yet, perhaps underperforming is what you perceive as overtraining

And then there is also the medication thing that probably needs more thorough investigation and discussion of the side effects and expected effects.
the overtraining question was sort of a shot in the dark - a "good" explanation for slowing down a bit. another way to state it would be 1) why am i getting slightly slower? if it's because power is down (and not random other factors), 2) is it because of overtraining? seems like the consensus is no, the level of riding i've been doing isn't overtraining.

if i look at just the current bike, current power meter, after a fitting and everything dialed in and the PM was correctly reading both sides (had some issues on earlier rides which required correction), there does seem to be a gradual downward trend, but the current dip isn't any steeper than one from a few months ago, which to be honest i didn't notice. so maybe a case of TMI / navel gazing.



as for heart rate, i did go and make a scatter chart for heart rate vs power for the strongest hour of the same set of rides. i think strongest hour is a better metric since most rides involve some slow spots (crossing the golden gate on a crowded day, getting out of downtown traffic etc) and of course a 6 hour ride will have a much lower average power than a one hour ride, but in most 6 hour rides i do try and start off pretty hard. the expected correlation is there, with 20 BPM (100-120) corresponding to a jump in power from 190 to 230. chicken or egg question ... are the recent rides lower power because my heart rate is low, or is my heart rate low because i can't push hard enough to get it into the zone!

my doctors advice (beyond "don't exercise hard at all") has been to keep the average in the 100-110 range for any extended period, and below 130 at all costs since i have a couple of persistent arrhythmia including some "slow" ventricular tachycardia which tends to get stuck at 132-135bpm. there is no direct relationship between heart rate and the ongoing damage that overexertion causes for someone with my condition, but since most sports don't involve power meters or any other way to measure cardiac strain, heart rate is the proxy they use. other than actual full blown ventricular tachycardia, i don't think my heart rate has been over 140 in 10 years, and over 130 is a very, very rare situation. if i'm doing a nice hard climb or flat sprint and i get over 130, i usually back off just a bit unless i feel really good. i truly do not know what would happen if i just said "**** it," went out to my favorite 2,000' climb, and hammered it as hard as i possibly could. most likely i'd be so short of breath that i'd have to ease off after a very short time, and i'd end up at my 220w steady cruise up. there's a decent chance that my ICD would think something bad was happening and shock me, so i'm not going to try!
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Old 08-18-22, 02:51 PM
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One thing is clear, you have a large stroke volume and if your timing issues were not there and thus you could operate at a higher HR, you would be hell on wheels. Even still, you are doing great.

Take some rest and do your climb. 5% drop isn't huge. My fingers are crossed for you. GL
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Old 08-18-22, 03:11 PM
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If your doctor says to not go hard, they are the person you should trust. I would have no idea how to make any suggestions about what you should make of your data.

My last almost 70 mile ride had me at 175 max HR with 148 as my average. And the 23 mile ride I just did a few hours ago has me at a max of 170 and average of 148. Both with comparable speeds but your power shows higher than mine.

Still didn't PR on a climb I've been trying to best. <grin> So I and likely others are envious you can do that with such low HR.

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Old 08-18-22, 10:25 PM
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Originally Posted by Iride01 View Post
If your doctor says to not go hard, they are the person you should trust. I would have no idea how to make any suggestions about what you should make of your data.

My last almost 70 mile ride had me at 175 max HR with 148 as my average. And the 23 mile ride I just did a few hours ago has me at a max of 170 and average of 148. Both with comparable speeds but your power shows higher than mine.

Still didn't PR on a climb I've been trying to best. <grin> So I and likely others are envious you can do that with such low HR.
i'm actually doing a zio monitor for a few weeks, so we'll see what he says. unfortunately it's very much a grey area without any really good data. safest thing would be to sit on the couch all day, probably.

i'm guessing you're a lot more efficient/aero and/or lighter than i am!
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Old 08-19-22, 08:14 AM
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Originally Posted by mschwett View Post
i'm actually doing a zio monitor for a few weeks, so we'll see what he says. unfortunately it's very much a grey area without any really good data. safest thing would be to sit on the couch all day, probably.

i'm guessing you're a lot more efficient/aero and/or lighter than i am!
If I sit on the couch all day or at the keyboard banging away replies to BF, then I start getting palpitations unless I ride at least 3 days a week. I have a loop monitor in my chest that they put in back in 2019. Battery ran out the first part of this year and I am going to the doctor next week to see about getting it removed. Wondering what the doctor will say about the palpitations. However when riding, my heart has always felt fine. It's only when I'm inactive that I seem to notice a weak feeling. And sometimes during work that isn't cardio type activity.

I'm 175 lbs or there 'bouts. And I do stay more aero than the average recreational cyclist. When going at speeds approaching 20 mph and greater, it's pretty apparent the drag difference from sitting more relaxed than when low. Though I'm sensing that by the power my legs have to put out and not by taking time to look at my PM.

Still, there isn't any way I could ride the rolling hills of the routes here and keep my HR that low. At least not without being extremely slow, which in this hot weather would have me passing out with heat exhaustion.
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Old 08-20-22, 04:03 PM
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Originally Posted by Iride01 View Post
If I sit on the couch all day or at the keyboard banging away replies to BF, then I start getting palpitations unless I ride at least 3 days a week. I have a loop monitor in my chest that they put in back in 2019. Battery ran out the first part of this year and I am going to the doctor next week to see about getting it removed. Wondering what the doctor will say about the palpitations. However when riding, my heart has always felt fine. It's only when I'm inactive that I seem to notice a weak feeling. And sometimes during work that isn't cardio type activity.

I'm 175 lbs or there 'bouts. And I do stay more aero than the average recreational cyclist. When going at speeds approaching 20 mph and greater, it's pretty apparent the drag difference from sitting more relaxed than when low. Though I'm sensing that by the power my legs have to put out and not by taking time to look at my PM.

Still, there isn't any way I could ride the rolling hills of the routes here and keep my HR that low. At least not without being extremely slow, which in this hot weather would have me passing out with heat exhaustion.
that's not too uncommon. before my current regime of meds i did a bunch of exercise stress tests with full EKG, and typically my rhythm would be totally ****** prior to starting (every third beat premature, short little bursts of ventricular tachycardia, stuff like that, which many people feel as "palpitations.") but then once i started walking or jogging, it would even out. i don't recall the medical terms but it's as if the higher level of activity and higher heart rate drives the signal to noise ratio of the electrical system up. but for me.... AFTER the activity, when the heart rate is decelerating, bad bad news, which is one reason i stick to roads rather than MTB, which features a lot of start and stop high intensity pedaling. i keep it very smooth.

the weather is also a big part of it for me. i can't do any real physical exertion if it's hot or humid. and by hot i mean over 80 degrees. today's ride featured a hot sunny section for the middle 20 miles or so, with hills, and i was hating life. had to stop, hydrate a ton and eat, and didn't really recover until about an hour after i got back on the bike. unpleasant.
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Old 08-23-22, 10:00 AM
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thank you again to Iride01 GhostRider62 koala logs Hermes and others who had helpful input and perspective!

no definitive conclusion yet but leaning towards a combination of environmental factors (heat!) and the effects of my meds at different times of day. i took it easy for a bit, then did a big ride saturday am. it did not go well - heart rate was very low, power low, almost bonked and generally suffered. it was 80 and sunny and i had a much higher “load” of meds on board due to timing and having flipped a half and full dose as an experiment.

two days later, an evening ride after work on a perfect beautiful clear cool wind free evening, 12 hours after taking meds, and i felt turbocharged. heart rate 10-20bpm higher (averaged 110) and no trouble holding good power. did some laps on the cycle track and was within a second of my PRs and could certainly have beat it if i wanted to.

so, going hypothesis is variable effects medication, time of day of rides (much higher ratio of morning rides), weather, and other external variables rather than actually getting slower/weaker…
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Old 08-23-22, 03:27 PM
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Well it is sort of interesting to see how much you are able to do while maintaining a max HR of 130. Which will be the middle of my Zone 2. Maybe I need to do more Zone 2 work, although in the area I ride that will be difficult for me, I think. I'd also have to increase my weekly mileage too to keep up.

I don't remember seeing this discussed much, but one reason I ride midday to late afternoon is to give the humidity time to go down. I recently rode a few mornings just to see what I was missing. Still to my thinking, I'm not missing anything. The lower temperature of the morning is way overshadowed by the well over 90% humidity.

Riding when humidity is way over 90% here at 350' msl feels very much like when I'm in the higher elevations of Colorado gasping for breath. In addition, I don't seem to get as good a cooling effect from the evaporation of my own sweat. And I just feel clammy and uncomfortable even when stopped in the shade. Waiting till later in the day when the humidity is lower helps me quite a bit even though it is getting hotter by then.
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Old 10-04-22, 11:17 PM
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so, 6 weeks later, i have a couple conclusions.

my power is completely limited by cardiac output (probably the case for everyone?) and my unwillingness to roll the dice and see what happens above a heart rate of 130. it's also incredibly difficult for me to get there somtimes, with extreme short of breath setting in around that same rate, likely due to inadequate heart function anyway. in any case, not worth the risk, at all. i can enjoy fairly hard and fast rides in the 90-120 range with a few little spikes to 130 for short durations.

watching HR and power a little more closely since i made this post, the mystery is really why on some days/times my HR is about 10 bpm slower for a similar "intended" effort, which results in about 5-10% less power. i can try harder, but perceived exertion and shortness of breath is way higher, and it's not satisfying. i'm not racing anyone but myself, so i've started to throttle back on those rides, just taking it easier when it seems my heart just doesn't want to do the work. the primary factors seem to be time of day (earlier is worse) and weather (warmer is much, much, much worse.) i don't think there's been any or much change over time that isn't explained by those factors, for the most part.

the power-hr correlation is clear. the trend over time is not really a trend except that the weather follows a trend, and my riding patterns aren't totally regular. some weeks there are more morning rides, some less, sometimes there are more urban rides which have more start and stop, sometimes more rides on a familiar course that i can hammer (if i feel like it) for an hour without stopping. here's an update of the power-hr scatter and the "best hour power" for 6 months, solid data with a few outliers where my hr strap was clearly off removed. in all cases, the same bike, same power meter, dual sided, zero offset at the start of the ride.

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Old 10-05-22, 10:31 AM
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Originally Posted by mschwett View Post
so, 6 weeks later, i have a couple conclusions.

my power is completely limited by cardiac output (probably the case for everyone?) and my unwillingness to roll the dice and see what happens above a heart rate of 130. it's also incredibly difficult for me to get there somtimes, with extreme short of breath setting in around that same rate, likely due to inadequate heart function anyway. in any case, not worth the risk, at all. i can enjoy fairly hard and fast rides in the 90-120 range with a few little spikes to 130 for short durations.

watching HR and power a little more closely since i made this post, the mystery is really why on some days/times my HR is about 10 bpm slower for a similar "intended" effort, which results in about 5-10% less power. i can try harder, but perceived exertion and shortness of breath is way higher, and it's not satisfying. i'm not racing anyone but myself, so i've started to throttle back on those rides, just taking it easier when it seems my heart just doesn't want to do the work. the primary factors seem to be time of day (earlier is worse) and weather (warmer is much, much, much worse.) i don't think there's been any or much change over time that isn't explained by those factors, for the most part.

the power-hr correlation is clear. the trend over time is not really a trend except that the weather follows a trend, and my riding patterns aren't totally regular. some weeks there are more morning rides, some less, sometimes there are more urban rides which have more start and stop, sometimes more rides on a familiar course that i can hammer (if i feel like it) for an hour without stopping. here's an update of the power-hr scatter and the "best hour power" for 6 months, solid data with a few outliers where my hr strap was clearly off removed. in all cases, the same bike, same power meter, dual sided, zero offset at the start of the ride.


Perceived effort and actual power output variation are common with people that have perfectly functioning hearts too. Day to day variation can be dependent on rest, fatigue, training status, sleep, diet, etc. I wouldn't sweat that, it happens to all of us. And yes, cardiac output is a limiter for most of us. If your vo2 is 95, it probably isn't a limiter, but if it's 40, then I'd say chances are very likely. If you have heart issues, and you limit your heart rate to 130, then of course low oxygen capacity is going to be a limiter of higher end power. I'd be curious as to what the docs say about doing LONG efforts. Like zone 2 for 3+ hours. Endurance and fitness can still be gained by doing those types of rides. I'd also be curious if your heart condition is able to improve with endurance rides as well.
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Old 10-05-22, 10:16 PM
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Originally Posted by procrit View Post
... I'd be curious as to what the docs say about doing LONG efforts. Like zone 2 for 3+ hours. Endurance and fitness can still be gained by doing those types of rides. I'd also be curious if your heart condition is able to improve with endurance rides as well.
some research has shown that the primary determinant of the condition worsening is total activity, as measured for example in mets - but for most the level which would lead to ongoing damage is higher than say, simply walking casually all day for your whole life. competitive sports and intensive endurance training has been shown to result in progression within a few years for many. for me, it took much, much longer, and i'm gene negative to the genes most associated with the condition. your idea is probably the right one - although there's no determinable line there is a level of activity which doesn't trigger the muscular strain and subsequent reconstruction that equates to damage with this condition. the standard advice is no exercise other than walking, light yoga, body weight type stretching or resistance, etc. i've done that for almost 10 years, and cycling seems to offer the advantage of easily tailored exertion levels regardless of terrain thanks to the wide range of gearing and speed available. running, not so much - running up a hill is hard AF for me no matter what, in a show-stopping way.

longer rides in lower zones are likely better than even short intense efforts:





my doc has recommended an average of as close to 100 as possible, no competitive anything, stop if it feels "too hard" etc. heart rate is a poor proxy for cardiac strain, unfortunately, without knowing a lot of other things but it's the only metric easily tracked while riding an outdoor bicycle. i'm going to do a stress test with echo later this month so at least they'll be able to revisit blood pressure during exercise, rhythm, o2, ejection fraction, etc. i'm guessing it's going to show that things are slightly worse than they were 10 years ago through natural disease progression, with no way to know what things would have been if i hadn't taken up cycling.
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Old 10-06-22, 07:58 AM
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Originally Posted by mschwett View Post
some research has shown that the primary determinant of the condition worsening is total activity, as measured for example in mets - but for most the level which would lead to ongoing damage is higher than say, simply walking casually all day for your whole life. competitive sports and intensive endurance training has been shown to result in progression within a few years for many. for me, it took much, much longer, and i'm gene negative to the genes most associated with the condition. your idea is probably the right one - although there's no determinable line there is a level of activity which doesn't trigger the muscular strain and subsequent reconstruction that equates to damage with this condition. the standard advice is no exercise other than walking, light yoga, body weight type stretching or resistance, etc. i've done that for almost 10 years, and cycling seems to offer the advantage of easily tailored exertion levels regardless of terrain thanks to the wide range of gearing and speed available. running, not so much - running up a hill is hard AF for me no matter what, in a show-stopping way.

longer rides in lower zones are likely better than even short intense efforts:





my doc has recommended an average of as close to 100 as possible, no competitive anything, stop if it feels "too hard" etc. heart rate is a poor proxy for cardiac strain, unfortunately, without knowing a lot of other things but it's the only metric easily tracked while riding an outdoor bicycle. i'm going to do a stress test with echo later this month so at least they'll be able to revisit blood pressure during exercise, rhythm, o2, ejection fraction, etc. i'm guessing it's going to show that things are slightly worse than they were 10 years ago through natural disease progression, with no way to know what things would have been if i hadn't taken up cycling.
What may be worth trying is getting troponin levels checked before and after cycling, just to see how things look. I would think that would offer at least *some* insight into any sort of damage that might happen as a result of cycling. Maybe do a few of them with varying levels of duration and intensity.
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Old 10-06-22, 08:08 PM
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Originally Posted by procrit View Post
What may be worth trying is getting troponin levels checked before and after cycling, just to see how things look. I would think that would offer at least *some* insight into any sort of damage that might happen as a result of cycling. Maybe do a few of them with varying levels of duration and intensity.
that's a very interesting notion, will have to ask the docs. not sure how long it would take to establish an exercise free baseline etc.
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Old 10-07-22, 05:47 AM
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This is a very interesting thread. First off I'm also very impressed with your power output given the imposed HR limitations! I can't help wondering if your doc is simply being ultra-conservative with their advice? In your shoes I would be inclined to take a second opinion or two (especially from a doc specialising in sport - presuming your current one doesn't).

As for your recent drop in performance, I would say it's pretty typical and not that significant at this point. It might be worth changing up your training regime if you feel it's getting a bit stale. But a drop of 5% from your peak is pretty inevitable at some point, especially if you have been following the same routine for a relatively long time. I'm nearly always 5% down from my own peak at any given moment! When you have been consistently training for a number of years, you will start to see how your performance naturally waxes and wanes over the seasons and relative to whatever else is going on in your life! You will also come to realise that you can't operate at peak performance for more than a few weeks/months at a time and long term average gains in performance are glacially slow beyond the first year or two of consistent training.

As others have suggested, "over-training" is a different thing and not likely to be your issue here.
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