|My Heart Rate and Cadence from Today's Ride|
I wrote last week about heart rate zones and base mile training. The idea being to draw more on fat than carbohydrates as your fuel for your ride aswell as building an aerobic base. Ideally your heart rate should not exceed heart rate zone 2 for you to fully benefit.
When I ride base miles, I have a light breakfast like a banana and use water as my fluid, steering away from energy drinks as you don't really need to be inputting carbohydrates into your system. You're not exerting so much energy by controlling your heart rate through your speed, cadence and gearing (Disclaimer - Our biologies are all different, so please consult a coach if this is something that you want to really drill into).
My maximum heart rate is 184bpm, so my heart rate zone two (HRZ2) - which is 65-75% of your maximum - means that my training zone is between 120bpm - 138bpm.
If you have a look at my heart rate data above, you can see that the pace of today's club ride meant that my heart rate average was 136bpm, however I consistently went above that, particularly in the third quarter of the ride as the ride elevation had a gradual ascent.
My highest recorded heart rate was 173bpm, which puts me right at the top of HRZ5 - which means my system switched to carbohydrate for fuel. Carbs need to be optimised, so you end up having energy drinks or gels to replace them to keep you going. Ultimately, you end up putting calories in, which reduces your overall calorific reduction/benefit (albeit it delivers other benefits, particularly if you do this as an interval in your ride).
If you compared heart rate zone data from all of the riders our today, it will be different. A young, fit 23 year old may have a completely different maximum. If their maximum heart rate is 194bpm, then their HRZ2 is 127bpm-146bpm. What that means if I were to ride with that individual, their HRZ2 median is nearly top of my HRZ2 maximum (my heart will be working harder to ride at the same speed).
Which leads me to my point. If you want to build your aerobic base, you are probably going to need to ride alone or with someone a relatively comparable heart rate as you. By riding in a group, you go at the groups speed. Each rider will be exerting different levels of energy to keep up with the group. If you're on the front riding the wind, you'll be pushing that little bit harder. If you're hidden in the group, you'll be pulled along by draft. It's all a bit unpredictable, as my data shows today.
To do effective base miles, you need to pick a pretty flat route, ride at a higher cadence than normal and wear a heart rate monitor to keep an eye on what your ticker is doing. As your heart rate increases, either slow down or change gear but reduce the effort. It takes a bit of doing, but you soon get the hang of it.
Alternatively, you could sit on a turbo trainer. I'm fortunate enough to have a Wattbike at home which means I can work on my pedal stroke at the same time as sitting in a specific heart rate zone, it's about as good as you can get in terms of accuracy and control.
I'll see if I can get a qualified coach to knock up a blog about base miles to qualify this issue further as it is a key part of a winter training regime.