Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Heart Rate Zones

Went for a 10k run, but the legs were still tired from Saturday’s cycling. Ended up doing a slow 1h00’28” but probably still ran too fast as instead of staying in an “active recovery” training zone I was 50% in Basic Endurance and 30 % in Tempo Training zones.

I’ve noticed that there is a lot of confusion regarding “maximum heart rate” for working out what appropriate training levels should be. Apparently you are born with a fixed max heart rate – but sedentary living may reduce it over time. The many formulas available to calculate it show that there is no real consensus on the issue. Currently I see my own heart occasionally pushed up to 183 bpm. When I did the CTS Field Test I could only manage 173 bpm and subsequently when working on PIs (power Intervals) only 174 bpm. What I’ve realised is that Carmichael is right is the sense that it’s not an absolute max heart rate that you need it’s what you can practically and regularly achieve in training – in other words – what you get from his field test. For this reason I’m now sticking to 173 as a practical max heart rate.

When using SportTracks software I’ve set 173 as max heart rate for all the training because it has a strong effect on the algorithms for computing fitness and fatigue levels. This is a rolling calculation so I went back though all the previous entries and set 173 as the reference so as to ensure the best computations and predictions from the software.

CTS only gives heart ranges for specific training interval exercises – not a set of general heart rate training zones. For that I used the CTS HR Max (173) then I used a table from “The Triathlete’s Guide to Run Training” by Ken Mierke to get general heart rate zones for both my GPS HRM unit and SportTracks software.

Zone 1 – Active recovery 103 - 132
Zone 2 – Basic Endurance 133 - 142
Zone 3 – Tempo Training 143 - 149
Zone 4 – Lactic Threshold 150 - 155
Zone 5a – Super Threshold 156 - 159
Zone 5b – Anaerobic Threshold 160 - 165
Zone 5c – Anaerobic Capacity 166 - 173

The above charst shows the heart rate training zones - which are programmed into the GPS/HRM unit for use in real-time.

Interestingly the "Tempo" intensity is totally different between this system and the CTS (earlier in this blog) but the Latic Threshold levels are very close and that is the important area.

Below, the blue signifies fitness level and the heavy red line fatigue - they re calculated using sophisticated algorithms,but the choice of max hear rate has a strong influence on the chart.

It's interesting to see on the fitness chart that the big intense workouts raise fitness dramatically - but also fatigue. The fatigue levels recover quite rapidly though and shorter training sessions following the big ones prevents the fitness level decaying which fatigue slowly recovers.

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