Monday, 22 June 2015

Polar cycling heart rate training - update


ICYMI, I'm riding the coast to coast to coast with Spennymoor Cycling Club to raise money for the Great North Air Ambulance Service. To be able to do this, I set up a heart rate training program with my Polar RC3 GPS watch and

I'm into the last two weeks of training so here's my thoughts on the experience so far.

The sessions

There are five different types of sessions within the program and they repeat week after week (for six weeks).

Easy ride

These sessions are fairly self explanatory. Long distance, flat terrain, low heart rate and high cadence. I have found it difficult to find routes that allow me to stay in zone 2 (60-70% of HRmax) and often go into zone 3 as soon as the gradient increases. It is fairly hilly around here.

Uphill Intervals

These sessions are one of my favourites. They are low cadence, higher heart rate reps followed by short recovery sessions. I have found a climb not very far away from my house which is just the right gradient and length to allow me to control heart rate and cadence perfectly and follow the training to the letter. You can see an example of this in the Strava widget below:

Spinning Intervals

These are odd sessions. They started out as being a 30 minute warm up in zone 2, a 30 minute work session where the cadence was ramped up until my heart rate hit 80% and then backed off, followed by a 30 minute zone 2 cool down. As the program continued however, it became a 30 minute warm up, 30 minute work session followed by a 2.5-3 hour cool down in zone 2, much like the easy rides. And as like the easy rides, zone 2 is easy to overshoot. These types of sessions were frustrating.

Long ride

What it says on the tin. A long ride was a ride over 3.5 hours long, up to 6 hours in zone 2. Again, frustrating on the inclines as I was expected to have a high cadence, around 100rpm. As my rides continue, I am finding I can manage this a better than when I started.

Interval ride

Another of my favourites, as they are repetitive sessions with short sharp blasts of zone 4 (89-90% of HRmax) riding followed by an even shorter recovery period. I discovered how to tweak the sessions in to make these sessions easier to follow. I'll post a how-to on this in the next few days. Below is another Strava example:


So far I've found the training program to be frustrating at times, but ultimately I can feel my performance improving. I can see personal records appearing on Strava and my average heart rate dropping on I have even made the jump from 100Km to 100miles - I'm pleased with this!!

Route planning has been of great importance. I set out with the mindset that I had to do one big loop, whereas the sensible option staring me in the face is to do laps. This keeps climbing to a minimum on the easy rides and allows the interval sessions to remain equal.

I'll post more as I get towards the end of the program.

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