Sunday, 19 July 2015

Altering phased sessions in Polar training programs


This post is the latest in my series of how to create a training program in, how to manipulate the program to suit your needs and how to carry out the program.

By default, the interval sessions created in the training program have one time block each dedicated to warm up, work and cool down. This isn't too bad for long sessions that don't require a lot of concentration on changing effort levels regularly. But for fast paced intervals, an hour long work phase means concentrating on your efforts, the road whilst trying to keep track of time. It is much easier to let the watch tell you when to change your pace.

Changing phases in an interval session

A typical phased interval session is shown below:
  1. The notes and description section details how many reps/intervals you should do and how hard. Use this information to alter the training phases.
  2. Details of the phases - this section contains the times and zone limits that you will see on the watch during training. As it is currently set, there is a 15 minute warm up (phase 1), and hour long phase 2 which is the actual workout and a cool-down period of 15 minutes, phase 3.
  3. The option to repeat phases is a good idea for interval sessions.
As the notes describe, phase 2 consists of lots of repetitions. This is what I will need to change. There is a warning (highlighted), so I need to ensure that when the phases are changed, the time and effort level for each phase matches the original session.

Original training session

Add new phase

  1. Click "add phase" button. The new phase is added as number 4. Note the default maximum limit (my HRmax) and minimum limit, 50% of HRmax.

Add new phase

Make phase 4 cool down

  1. Make phase 4 a direct copy of phase 3, by inputting duration and heart rate zone limits. Notice the distance and duration increases accordingly - this is what the warning that was seen previously is referring to.

Beware that in the process of  altering the session, the overall distance will need to be monitored

Change phases 2 & 3

  1. Now I can alter the actual training session, phases 2 and 3. The training notes section describes how I need to ride: 4 minutes in zone 4, 2 minutes in zone 2.
  2. Adjust the times and BPM limits accordingly. Here the limits need to be calculated from your maximum heart rate (zone 4 = 80-90% of HRmax, zone 2 = 60-70% of HRmax).
  3. Now, the work section (phases 2 & 3) of the session is only 6 minutes long, whereas it was once 60 minutes.
  4. The reps will now need to be added.

Training session now has the correct phases, but distance and time are out

Repeating phases

  1. Using the drop down menus, the phases to be repeated can be selected.
  2. When the number of repetitions have been selected, the distance and duration of the session is restored to the original values as calculated by the program.
  3. 10 repetitions of phases 2 & 3: 6 minutes * 10 reps = 60 minutes.

Adding repetitions restores the overall distance and time

Alternative - sport zone limits

  1. The training notes describe the phases in zones:
    • Zone 1: 50-60% HRmax
    • Zone 2: 60-70% HRmax
    • Zone 3: 70-80% HRmax
    • Zone 4: 80-90%HRmax
    • Zone 5: 90-100% HRmax
  2. Unless you know what the BPM limits are for each of your zones, it could save a little bit of time to switch the limit method to sport zones and the select the desired zone limit.
  3. Using the "limits" drop-down, select "Sport zones".
  4. Enter the zone limits for each phase. For example, in phase 1 below, zone 2 is the upper and lower limit. This means that for 15 minutes, I must stay within zone 2.

Sport zones may help to make setting up the phases easier

Renaming phases

  1. Clicking in the name box of each phase allows you to rename the phase. This is entirely optional and is reflected on the watch.
  2. The four pre-defined choices work well in this example, but you can call them whatever you like.

Renaming phases can offer clarity on the road

Pre-set names may be all you need


Once I have the training phases and repetitions (the reps are really important!) as required, I can save and close the training session. Once I then synchronise the watch with, the watch will guide me through the whole session, telling me when warm up has finished, when to push hard and when to recover, repeating until it is time to cool down.

Whilst this is a specific example, the process remains the same for any tweaks you would like to make to the training program. Just be aware that adding and removing phases could affect the overall distance/time/effort and will therefore affect how difficult the rest of the program will become!

I will publish another post showing the training session in action.

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