Saturday, October 15, 2011

MHR Test

I had mentioned in a previous post that I did not plan to do any workouts this week. However, it was a good week to a test that involved working out. Specifically, today was the day to do my maximum heart rate (MHR) test.

As I go into the off-season, my new training plan is built around heart rate rather than distance. It's evident from everything I read both from experts as well as from fellow-triathletes in the online community that it's a smart way to train. No doubt some challenges will be presented, but I'm encouraged by what I've read and hopefully that means a stronger showing next year.

Since HR training is based on the baseline of a max heart rate, I needed to find that first. Old school thinking around the MHR was based on the formula:

MHR = 220 - Age
However, that apparently only works when you are in a fairly narrow average. For me, that number would be 178. Instead of relying on that, I went out to the track at nearby Legend High School and tested myself there.

I rode my mountain bike there and that gave me a bit of a warm up. Once I was ready to go, I did a couple of easy laps around the track just to bring my heart rate up into the 140 to 150 zone. As I started into lap 3, I picked up the pace moving into the low to mid six minute range. That moved up to the sub six and finally into the low 5 range. I was breathing pretty hard and I could feel my heart pounding in my chest. I kept pushing as hard as I could to keep moving my HR up. Finally, just after completing my third lap, I could not move the needle any more and I slowed down and walked out the remainder to cool down. My number? It turned out at 171 beats per minute. For those of you keeping score at home, that's almost 4% lower than what the formula predicted. I actually thought I was going to be more like 180 but as you can see from the chart below, I really did plateau around the 170 mark:

I think it will make sense to test again in a few months and, of course, I need to do a separate test for the bike. However, that flat line at the top (right before the abrupt stop to recover) seems to me to be a pretty strong indicator. 

By the way, I'm also in the process of reading the book "Heart Rate Training" by Roy Benson and Declan Connolly and am about halfway though it. So far,  recommend it. I'm learning a lot about how the body develops in reaction to training as well as some really good tips about how to train. 

Not sure when I'll get the bike test done, but hopefully on Monday. While it would be nice to know the same info for swimming, I don't think I'll worry about that for now. I'm actually feeling pretty good about the swim and any progress I make there will be incremental.

I expect I'll be back at the Legend High School track for more testing and training. I do admire a good track after my high school years training on a crumby old cinder track. This one was nice and smooth.

That's all for now. Thanks for reading.

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