Heart Rate, Revisited

I’ve trained with a heart rate monitor for years, going all the way back to the Polar Vantage XL I had in 1991. I tracked, compiled and analyzed data day in and out.  Resting heart rate (morning and night), time in target zones, recovery, thresholds and so on were all meticulously recorded. I really understood how my heart rate could change under diverse conditions, affected by heat, humidity, altitude, fatigue, racing versus training. I eventually got to a point where I didn’t need the monitor anymore. I remember once being in a “guess your heart rate” contest where you ride for some time on a trainer under effort, then had to estimate why your HR was.  I guessed within 2 BPM.

When I quit full-time bike racing, I liberated myself from heart rate monitors and cyclo-computers and training logs and rode purely for pleasure.  In recent years, as I started getting more serious in my training again, I became curious about my heart rate.  My old monitors no longer worked so I replaced them with a Polar FT7, which was barely adequate for tracking this kind of data.  It will tell you your heart rate and will calculate time in zone, average and max HR.  Beyond that, it’s pretty useless and I often find I have to wear both the HRM and a chronograph watch to do things like intervals.  This is what I get for cheeping out; there are better, more costly solutions out there.

My heart rate, the max in particular, has changed over the years, as you would expect.  When I raced in my mid-20’s, my max was 197, with the threshold around 185, and a resting pulse in the low 40’s.   These days, I’m able to use more of my upper range.  I now max out around 182 BPM. My threshold is around 176.  The engine doesn’t rev as fast as it used; it’s more like a diesel now.

The above image is from a Weston Tuesday Night ski race, 10 KM over 28 minutes.


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