Sunday, May 29, 2011

First Ride on the Road with the HRM: Climbing Intervals

Another day, another lesson learned with the new HRM. Today I took it out on the road on the bike for the first time. My goal was to do two sets climbing intervals with some road miles before, between, and after sets.

I warmed up with a five mile ride to Berry Rd, where my plan was to climb Berry Hill four times. That climb is relatively short at about 400 meters,  but one of the steeper grades around. We aren't known for steep climbs in Mid-Michigan, mind you, so this is just about the best we've got close by. After those four, I rode another 10 miles or so to end up at Germany Rd, a longer but more gradual climb that starts at the Lansing Rifle Club entrance and heads East. That's about 1000 or 1100 meters, but I'm able to push a big gear the whole time because it is fairly gradual. I did four of those as well, then headed home the long way through Williamston.

Going in, I was trying to keep my road miles toward the low end of my tempo zone, between 150-160 bpm. I wasn't sure where I'd be on the climbs, but I was trying not to go into the red and instead work just to the edge of my lactate threshold ( ~180 bpm). Here's how it went:

Total time: 1:39
Avg HR: 150 bpm
Max HR: 183 bpm

Berry Hill Intervals
1. 181 bpm
2. 183 bpm (out of the saddle)
3. 179 bpm
4. 181 bpm

Germany Rd. Intervals
1. 177 bpm
2. 177 bpm
3. 178 bpm
4. 177 bpm

What did I learn? It is much, much easier for me to control my effort on the bike vs. running. When I back off just a little, I can easily stay in my target zone. On the steeper climb, I saw the highest HR reading climbing out of the saddle the whole time. I am not sure, though, that this produces more speed except for a short attack. So that's good to know. I also noticed that on the more gradual climb it was easy to settle into a rhythm near the top of my LT range and hold that without getting into difficulty. I recovered very quickly too once the road flattened out. I could pretty easily get back to 145 bpm after the climbs without sacrificing too much speed, just spinning a higher cadence.

Yes, I'm geeking out a little bit with the new toy and the new data. But it was good today knowing that I can hit my HR target zones for both WI and RI portions of a workout.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

I Get a Coach, an HRM, and New Data

I signed up for a cycling-specific training course at Tina Brookhouse Fitness Studio with Leslie Gaines, a pro cyclist who races for Team Priority Health. It is as close as I have come to having a coach, as the course began last week with a field test and will continue now with customized workouts designed by Coach Gaines to suit our physiological status and our goals.

Polar FT2
I had to get a heart rate monitor (HRM), and while I've played around with them before, I've never trained consistently with one. On the bike, there are many ways to guage fitness and effort, and HR is not known to be foolproof by any means, but it is helpful as a bit of real data against which to measure perceived effort. And it is way cheaper than a power meter, so for now an HRM will have to do.

During my field test - a 10 minute affair that had us working at the upper limit of our lactate threshold (LT) for 8 and then ramping up to get to full effort for the last full minute - I stayed consistently at about 171 and achieved a max HR of 191. That was on a spin bike, indoors.

Yesterday I did my normal Friday spin class - about 55 minutes of work right around LT with a few efforts a bit over (I tried not to go too far over yesterday, though this was based on perception as I didn't wear my HRM to class).

Today I ran 5 miles with the HRM. It was a bit eye-opening. After the first mile I was already at LT and had to reign in what I thought of as my normal pace. I let it out a little in the last 1.5 miles, getting to about 185 and then I worked hard the last .5 with a sprint kick for the final 200 meters or so. Here are the numbers:

Total Time: 41:47 or 8:21 per mile
Avg. HR: 172 (pretty close to LT)
Max HR: 194

The biggest lesson I learned was that I have a hard time restraining my pace based on perceived effort. I likely pushed too hard on training runs meant to be at "tempo" pace in the past. I look forward to trying this out on the road on a bike too. I won't be running a lot more - I went out today because I am registered once again for the Dx2A run next week and felt like I should get a few miles in beforehand. But while I am working with Coach Gaines, I will try to check in on the blog to keep track of workouts and progress.

Next week we get the crunched results of our field test and start our workouts.