Endurance/HR training update – June to August

Ok, I now have a fair bit of data from my heart rate monitor and have been for a few runs and bike rides with it.

Running

Initially I was surprised how slow I had to go to manage my heart rate. I had been aiming for this style of training for a little while using nasal breathing to check my pace rather than a HR monitor. It turns out I was way off.

Anything remotely resembling a hill sent my heart rate way out of my target zone of 138-148 BPM and I had to walk for a lot of my usual lunchtime route.

It was pretty humbling, but also enlightening – I have obviously been relying too heavily on my anaerobic system.

I’m finding it much easier to manage now. The time I’m able stay in the zone is increasing, which in turn increases my average time per km simply because I’m doing more running and less walking.  

Here are some stats:

Date Distance (km) Time Ave HR Max HR Time in zone Ave time per km % in zone
28/06/2012 3.8 00:23:00 142 160 00:15:03 00:06:03 65.43%
12/08/2012 4.73 00:30:21 136 153 00:17:32 00:06:24 57.77%
18/08/2012 4.18 00:24:24 142 153 00:18:23 00:05:50 75.34%
26/08/2012 7.26 00:42:54 139 154 00:28:32 00:05:54 66.51%
29/08/2012 6.11 00:36:19 140 155 00:23:33 00:05:56 64.85%

As you can see from the table, the first three runs are of comparable distance and the amount of time I was able to say in the right zone steadily increases. The total time in the zone for the last two longer runs is way above what I could manage a couple of months ago – and at a faster average pace.

This is exactly what I want to happen – I hardly had to walk at all on the two longer runs, which compared to walking a significant amount of my earlier, shorter runs is a massive improvement. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still running very slowly on these runs but it’s great to see things progressing in this way.

Biking

It’s a very different story on the bike. I find keeping in the right zone much harder. It’s difficult to maintain a constant level of effort for a few reasons:

  • Going downhill – this obviously takes a lot less effort so my HR goes down. On a steep hill I’m barely working at all so will be way below the zone. 
  • Traffic lights – there are quite a few of these on the roads near me which inevitably makes bike riding a bit more stop-start. 
  • Going uphill – a slight incline is good, and actually makes it easier to stay in the zone, but anything remotely steep sends my HR out of the zone very quickly. Dropping down gears helps but doesn’t control it. I can manage my heart rate when running by stopping and walking up the hill, when riding a bike on a busy road that’s much harder, and more dangerous, to do.

The result is not being in the right zone for the bulk of the ride. I have the odd spike where I’m going uphill but spend a lot of time with my heart rate below my aerobic zone.

Here are the bike stats:

Date Distance (km) Time Ave HR Max HR Time in zone Ave time per km % in zone
30/06/2012 5.44 00:19:50 133 158 00:07:29 00:03:38 37.73%
30/06/2012 5.57 00:15:37 118 140 00:00:13 00:02:48 1.39%
07/07/2012 10.97 00:27:58 132 154 00:09:33 00:02:32 34.15%
22/07/2012 13.26 00:35:12 135 152 00:15:12 00:02:39 43.18%
29/07/2012 13.6 00:39:48 124 159 00:07:07 00:02:55 17.88%
05/08/2012 14.41 00:39:10 131 155 00:14:07 00:02:43 36.04%

The issue with hills is really obvious in the first two bike rides in the table. This is me riding to and from a local climbing wall, which is mostly uphill on the way there, so obviously mostly downhill on the way back. My max HR on the way back was barely in the target zone and an average of 118 means I will have spent a fair while below that. Considering my HR is about 60 when I’m sat on the sofa that is nowhere near a higher enough level of effort to get the effect I’m looking for.

So what next

To get the effect I want on the bike, I need to spend a lot more time in the saddle to build enough strength to maintain the HR on a bit of hill, and find some routes with fewer traffic lights!

As my main aim with this is to strengthen my aerobic system, not become an awesome bike racer, I’ve been focusing on running instead. I’m able to train the right way much easier and I also enjoy getting out on the trails more. My foot injury meant I couldn’t run at all so I’m loving just being able to do it again.

I’m still using my bike, but more as a fun means of getting from place to place than for any specific training purpose.

I’ll keep posting my running progress over the next few months.

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