Declining average heartrate: same speed, distance, etc. What gives?

Discussion in 'Road Cycling' started by RyanKuhne, Apr 12, 2013.

  1. RyanKuhne

    RyanKuhne New Member

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    Lately, I've noticed my average heart rate has significantly dropped from previous rides. It's on a route that I normally ride 2-3 times per week. My perceived exertion is roughly the same, my times/splits are similar, and the temperature/climate is largely the same (if not warmer). When I look at my post ride data (usually on Strava or Garmin connect), my time/percentage in my 'threshold' zone has sharply decreased. I've even tried to push myself harder to get my HR up, but it seems to stay lower than previous. I've checked my HR strap, so mechanical issues don't seem to be the case.

    What gives? Am I hitting a new fitness level? BTW- I'm late 20s in age for those who think that might be a cause.
     
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  2. mpre53

    mpre53 Well-Known Member

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    You're probably getting more aerobically fit. Your heart, circulatory system, and lungs are getting more efficient, in all likelihood.

    If you had monitored your resting heart rate as you progressed, you'd probably find that it's a few BPM slower now than when you started. I'm 59, and my resting heart rate is in the mid-50s. I don't use a HRM on my rides, but when I'm confined to quarters by bad weather, and ride my wife's exercycle with a built in HRM, it's a lot lower now than it was a year ago, for the same effort.

    If it's worrisome, consult a doctor. My guess is that there's nothing to concern yourself with.
     
  3. daveryanwyoming

    daveryanwyoming Well-Known Member

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    +1, it's likely your heart's stroke volume has increased and you're sustaining the same or more power for similar RPE but doing so at a lower heart rate. That's a very common adaptation during the early phases of training but less so as training continues, IOW don't expect resting or working HRs for things like Threshold efforts to decrease with increasing fitness.

    Of course you may very well continue to see decreasing HR for the same speed but if you're no longer pushing up to say Threshold or whatever you're targeting, your RPE will drop with the HR because you're going faster but not pushing as close to your own limits. That's another way to observe improved fitness but at least on some days you should be pushing up to the new fitness limits if you want to continue to improve.

    If you're tracking HR zones on Strava or elsewhere then adjust your Threshold HR or Max HR value or whatever the system your using utilizes as its reference marker.

    -Dave
     
  4. macca33

    macca33 New Member

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    Yep, all your hard miles are working - your body is becoming more efficient and you are getting fitter. Good work! Now is when you need to slightly increase your workload / speed to maintain and / or develop further. Cheers Sent from a MacGalaxy far, far away...
     
  5. maydog

    maydog Well-Known Member

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    It could also be that with the warmer weather, you have stripped a few layers of clothing and now have less drag and your body is cooling more effectively. Small changes in the weather (air pressure, humidity, winds, etc.) can also have an impact on effort.
     
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