Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Question on HR efficiency

fitness question. at what heart rate does the heart stop being efficient? if it beats to fast, can it process the blood? i know the general rule is 220 minus your age. but after years of competitive cycling, i can maintain 165bpm for 3 hours.
thank you for helping


Interesting question. Lets start with the 220-age for the maximum HR number. This formula has been discarded since it was never really based in a scientific fact. basically two doctors on a plane came up with this when they were discussing patients with heart conditions. They wanted an easy way to determine max HR and using a small sampling of patients this seemed to make sense. Its actually been determined to be useless.

The best way to determine this along with VO2 and lactate threshold (LT) is to be tested. There is an exercise physiologist at NKU who will do this for free. For the record, my max HR is about 185, and I'm 49. The formula says it should be 171. Also keep in mind that max HR is a value that is relative only to each individual. In other words, someone with a max HR of 210 isn't going to be stronger or faster. Its all how we use it.

If we think of VO2 as the size of our engine, then Lt is how efficiently we use that engine. Someone could have a small engine but but be very well trained and efficient and ride very well where as someone could have a large engine and use it poorly. Ideally, you have a big engine and use it well. Most great endurance athletes do both.

If yoy can hold 165 for several hours I would say this is your 'endurance' HR. Your LT HR would be the HR that you could hold for one hour. Think of doing a 40k tt and recording HR. We could also find ranges of HR for steady state (just below tt HR), tempo (just above endurance, kind of a hard group ride), power efforts (above tt and close to max).

So does your heart ever become 'inefficient'? I'd say no. It reacts to the demand placed on it and will allow you to exercise at the pace that you've trained for and will actually stop you from exercising to the point of complete failure (ie, death at the extreme end). The key is to make it more efficient by training your self to be able to ride above LT for longer and longer periods (use more fo the engine). If its beating, it's processing.

Peter A. Wimberg

Monday, July 4, 2011

Riding A Century

Prior to 2010 I had ridden about 6 centuries in my first 27 years of riding. I did many rides each year in the 70-80 mile range but rarely did 100. Once I started riding from Cincinnati to Gatlinburg and had a need to ride 140-150 a day for two consecutive days I started to add 100 miles to the calendar. I'll be the first to admit that rides of 100 miles usually left me tired for days. Once I see a weakness, I like to solve the problem so in 2010 I did 22 rides of 100 miles or more. A few exceeded 140 miles and about 10 were 110 plus. I also had several between 90 and 96 that I didn't count in my total. The odometer had to roll over 100 for it to count.

So far this year I've already logged 12 rides over 100 miles and just yesterday did 145. At this point, both physically and mentally the 100 mile ride has become routine. What used to be a daunting ride to consider is now just a standard weekend ride.

Besides proving what we all know, that we can train ourselves to do almost anything, I've found that the rides of 100 miles or more, usually taking a little over 5 hours for 100 from Cincinnati to Ripley and back to 7 or more for the long rides of 130+, can improve mental focus as well not only for these long rides but also for short interval training and racing. Theres something that happens, especially on an out and back route, around the 80 mile mark when you know you still have another 30-40 miles to go. The physical and mental training benefits are well worth the effort.

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