I downloaded my heart rate data from this Sunday’s race and thought it was interesting enough to share. For reference, I'm 31, my Lactate threshold is somewhere around 170bpm, and my previous max recorded HR was 194. As you can tell from the data, I was freakin pegged as soon as the gun went off and it didn't let up until 40min later at the end. I hit a new max of 199bpm sprinting for a place at the line.
So does this mean that I should be doing my threshold intervals at my avg heart rate from the race (189bpm) instead of the 170-175 level where I currently do them?
I'm thinking my threshold numbers may be too low. I got the number using a method that I think I got from Joe Friel's book where the protocol is to do a 30 min max effort time trial and then take the average HR of your last 20 minutes. It's been few months since I've done this, but I always gotten an avg HR of around 169 - 172. Anything higher and I start sucking wind and can feel my legs getting heavier.
Still though, I was defintiely over my threshold for the entire race. I wish I had a power meeter because, based on my lap times, I think I woud see a clear drop in average power per lap over the course of the race.
My lap times were:
1 - 7:19
2 - 7:32
3 - 7:43
4 - 7:52
5 - 7:38
I'm more familiar with measuring threshold by wattage than by HR, but I think the definition of threshold is "the maximum amount of effort you can sustain for a period of time." The "period of time" is usually an hour, in the wattage world. The thing about threshold is that once you spend time above it, you tend to fall apart, but you can surf the line for a fairly long time. Trained athletes can "burn matches", that is, spend chunks of time above threshold, but usually you fall apart after doing that a few times, i.e. you only get so many bullets. You were able to hold a steady speed and even accelerate at the end. I think you've pretty much demonstrated your threshold - at least on that day - was 189bpm. I say "at least on that day", because HR can be really variable with sleep, caffeine, fitness, stress, health, fatigue. It's definitely not 170bpm, although maybe the running made a difference? You can't turn yourself inside out for 20min at 189bpm on the road?
Don't want to sound like a zealot, but wattage meters are nice for this sort of thing, training on the road. Doesn't matter how you feel, 300w is 300w.
"the maximum amount of effort you can sustain for a period of time."
This should read 'the maximum sustained amount of effort'.
Maintaining a consistent steady effort varies greatly from what you'll do in a cross race where there are many, many accelerations and recoveries. Relative to heart rate, these accelerations and recoveries will cause you to be over threshold for the entire race. I know that I am consistently 3-4 beats over threshold for any given cross race under normal conditions. With a threshold of 173, I would never be able to hold 176 for the duration of a steady TT. Cross racing is essentially one long vo2max effort and you should find yourself in that 5a heart rate zone.
Nodeal - you might want to retest your threshold again though. It's still likely that 170 is low for you, you might be able to dig a little deeper this time. Knowing your threshold is critical to know how hard to base your efforts in training.
Wow. You run hot. Do you have any other experiences that you can compare this to to see if this is high relative to other exertions? Don't croak on us out there.
One observation: you are consistent throughout the race, rather than fading as the race goes on. My HR often diminishes through the course of a race as my legs fatigue, I slow a little, and my HR follows suit. The fact that you peaked at the end is an indicator that you did not fade.
Race conditions, adrenaline, and lots of other things skew heart rate in competitive situations. Training based on heart rate values that you can acheive in a race would not be a good idea, because all of your zones would be skewed upward.
This is the first time I've raced with a HRM where I could download the data. Previously, my HRM only showed avg and max. I definitely remember seeing avg values in the mid 180's last year, but I don't have any hard data to reference.
I don't think so. The power profiles of cross races look much more like criteriums than they do time-trials. You are on the gas off the gas then back on the gas. You are getting an average of your zone 32 efforts and whatever effort you can come back to and survive which is often your threshold or just below. Beyond that, you have that whole adrenaline thing going. Max Testa, no less, told me that you can expect a 10+beat increase per zone during races compared to training based on adrenaline alone. Then you have weather, cardiac drift, and on and on.