Need clarification: Should I be paying attention to my speed or to my heart rate?

Discussion in 'Cycling Training' started by kaian, Jun 26, 2005.

  1. kaian

    kaian New Member

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    I started riding last summer (August), but didn't do anything serious. This year I am feeling more serious. I would eventually like to do a century (maybe Sept. or Oct.) I ride about 3 times a week - 2 rides are usually 25-35 miles and the third ride is my "long" day which I increase about 10 percent a week. Right now I am only at 40 miles. I recently purchased a heart rate monitor to assist me in my training, but am getting frustrated because I want to increase my speed, but then my heart rate goes higher than it should. My speed is usually somewhere between 15-18 MPH. Sometimes I feel like I want to push it faster, but I've read that training in zone 3 is a waste, so I'm just not sure what I should be doing. ???

    I want to increase my endurance AND my speed. I've read that interval training is the way to go, but I'm not even sure how to go about doing that. What do I look at to judge improvement? Distance, speed, my heart rate?

    I'm sure this question has surfaced a million times, and trust me, I've searched the forums and read all kinds of stuff, but I still have questions. Any suggestions on a good training schedule I can follow each week would be helpful. Thanks for reading!
     
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  2. dhk

    dhk New Member

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    I'd work on endurance first and not worry about speed. For a century ride, you'll want to keep aerobic as much as possible, with maybe a few excursions for climbing. I'd say a good target pace for a century is generally around 75% of max HR. It's also important to avoid the short power spikes; sparing the legs and conserving energy the way to do your first century.

    Just keep doing what you're doing to extend your endurance, and don't worry about speed at all. Speed and speed training will come later....you can't have it all in the first full season of cycling. Focus on riding comfort and enjoyment first, and the speed will come naturally.
     
  3. frenchyge

    frenchyge New Member

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    Since you're training for a century, your comfortable distance should steadily improve for sure. To see other signs of your improving fitness, compare the speed of a zone 2 ride (for example) this week to a similar ride you did last month. You should see an increase in speed for a similar HR level, or a lower HR for a similar speed from one workout to another (ie, over time).

    Interval training *is* the way to go once you feel ready to push it. To do that, you'll crank it up to a zone 4 or higher for several minutes, then drop back to a recovery pace for a few minutes to catch your breath. Repeat this 'interval' several times as a workout. As your fitness improves, you'll be able to sustain the higher level for more minutes, and complete more intervals before you are fatigued.

    For century training, though, definitely keep working on those longer endurance rides, too. Speed's not going to help you if you're pooped after 60 miles. :)

    Here's a recent thread about century training from this forum: http://www.cyclingforums.com/t249985-century-training-program-for-1st-timer.html
    and there are lots of threads here about interval programs for different goals. If you're just starting out, then just get out there and ride. Feel free to throw in some different intensity workouts as a change of pace and to keep it fun. It won't hurt you to be going into different HR zones at this point. Good luck and keep it fun.
     
  4. Doctor Morbius

    Doctor Morbius New Member

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    I second what DHK has to say.


    Kaian, I did my first century last September after 18 months of inconsistent cycling but the last 5 months was very consistent. Don't sweat the speed stuff. Just keep building miles. My rides were anywhere from 65% to 82% (Tempo) based on how far I was riding, how much time I had and how well rested I felt.

    My first (and only thus far) century was done solo at 74.34% of my max heart rate, took 6 hours 16 min (ride time only, not counting the 3 breaks I took) and my average speed was 15.9 MPH. Found out I had broken a spoke during the ride and it was rubbing the brake pad too! A week later I did a 50 miler at 17 MPH with no breaks until afterward. Also, no brakes!! I disconnected the rear brake in case I broke another dern spoke! Although these speeds are nothing compared to many, in May 2003 I lived a very sedentary lifestyle, was overweight and had just turned 43 so I wasn't a kid anymore.

    DHK is also right about improvements in speed coming over time. The benefits of cycing are cumulative. Already this year I've done a 50 miler at an average speed of 17.7 MPH without nearly as much ride time as last year. If you're consistent you can gain 1 - 2 MPH a year especially as a cycling novice. After that you'll probably need a structured program and a coach.
     
  5. RapDaddyo

    RapDaddyo Active Member

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    I second and third what DHK and Doctor Morbius said. Depending on where you do your training rides, you can naturally begin some interval type training by pushing your pace when going up hills and into the wind. Depending on how hard you push the pace, you can easily get into zone 4 or above. And, it's "real world" because when you ride a century you will need to work harder up hills and into the wind.
     
  6. kaian

    kaian New Member

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    Thanks for the advice, all.

    I'm doing a 54 mile ride next Saturday, and this will be my longest ride ever (so far). Is it reasonable to go from 54 to 100 miles in 3 months? I don't want to overtrain or mess myself up. :confused: One rule of thumb I read on this site is to add 10 percent a week. Is this correct? That's what I've been trying to do.
     
  7. frenchyge

    frenchyge New Member

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    Yes, definitely reasonable. For a one-time century ride, it's not necessary to ride 100mi in training, but you should work up to at least some 65 mi rides to make sure you're ready to stretch it to 100 for the "big ride."

    10% per week is a good guide when you're starting out, but you don't need to go all the way up to 100mi in that fashion.
     
  8. GIFF07

    GIFF07 New Member

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    Something else you should consider for training for a century is to get to know your body, as in when you should eat, and get in a habbit of drinking more water/sports drink than you think you need. No matter how fit you are you need to lean when to eat in order to complete a century and still think it is fun and something you want to do again. I would not worry about intervals yet. Get your first century under your belt first. You seem to be on track for your goals so far.
    Like others have said, you don't need to be able to ride a 100 miles in training to make a century, 55-65 should be enough so that you could make it, especially if it is an organized century with rest stops/support ect. If it is not an organized century, make sure you have someone with you in case you run into difficulty (mech or fitness). It can take someone a while to come get you even by car if you run into problems. I would suggest you take a cell phone with you just incase.
    As far as which is a better training tool, heart rate or speed, I say it depends on what you are doing. If you are doing endurance stuff like you are, then heart rate is more important, but if you are doing short speed/power intrevals than speed is more important. I would also suggest that you pay attention to percieved exertion in conjunction with speed/heart rate because that can help you find out when you are overtraining. The key to a successful training program is being able to listen to your body, and that has to be learned from experience.
     
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