How Do You Keep Your Heart Rate Constant While Training?

I have always been slow. I don't mean I sat in the corner of the classroom wearing a conical hat with the letter 'D' on it. That happened remarkably rarely.

I mean slow when it comes to paddling, running or cycling. I always get there but usually after the people I was riding with.

True, they were a fit bunch and sometimes included the co-founder of Orange Mountain Bikes, Steve Wade.

Quite a few of our exploits ended up in newspaper or magazine articles, like the one on the left.

My camera saved me.

On long expeditions, when lagging behind, I'd spot an amazing shot and call the rest of the team back. While they rode the chosen section several times I pressed the shutterand got my breath back.

Of course, they quickly sussed my plan, but didn't risk missing the shot that made it into the magazines.

Now I'm back on my bike, albeit a road bike, I'm following a training plan to try to improve my speed. I concentrated on distance last year, but now I need to become quicker for two Sportive's in May; the Etape Caledonia and Skye.

Otherwise, everyone will have packed up and gone home when I roll across the line. With my lights on.

The training programme is built around a heart rate monitor. One session involves keeping below, but close to, my lactate threshold, which in my case means I must keep my heart rate between 144 and 147 bpm.

I don't know if you've tried it, but it is extraordinarily difficult to keep within such a narrow band.

The challenge is compounded by there being a natural lag between the body's exertion and the heart responding.

I've resorted to going harder, with a higher heart rate, just so it doesn't dip below 144. And going harder hurts!

So here's my question - how do you do it?

How do you keep within a narrow band, and does it become easier with practice?

I realise I could buy a Power Meter, on which there would be no lag. But that would be a toy too far.

Certainly for a rider with my lack of ability and modest ambitions.


Chris said...

Don't bother. This might strike at the heart of your training approach but uniform metronome-like heart rates are not natural or safe. It is about variability. The heart rate is naturally chaotic and variable. I think you would be better and safer training like crossfit endurance would recommend - building on sprints and intensity.

Crossfit Endurance Interview

Crossfit Endurance

For easy guaranteed "aerobic training" (a concept which i think is in itself questionable) I think the talk test is OK and has been shown to have pretty good correlation to the relevant thresholds.

But really I would't get too bothered about zones. Lots of very easy stuff and a few hard sprint sessions would be fine

Silbs said...

Chris is spot on. I used the talk test for all my marathons and training. I found most training programs actually fail for lack of adeaquate rest or easy days.

Simon said...

Thanks Chris and Silbs, that's really useful. I'll look into those links tonight.
Much appreciated.