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  1. #1
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    Variability of HR Zones depending on conditions?

    Not sure where to post this question, but since it happened while I was racing....

    I am 58. My approximate max HR (derived from max. effort, plus a couple BPM for good measure) has been 174 'ish for the last couple years.

    Z5 (anaerobic) has typically begun at right around 162 BPM and my body bears this out when working hard.

    Last night I hit a max of 179 and for one 1/2 mile climb, averaged 173 BPM. Given my calculated zones, this should not be possible. It was hot, 80+ degrees, and there is a bit of smoke from forest fires. It seemed that my HR would soar without the normal effort to justify it.

    Another bit of info.... I have been on varying amounts of Prednisone for almost two years to battle the inflammatory effects of autoimmune disease. I know that Prednisone can thin blood, but not sure if that's a factor or not. This data point seems out of line with recent workouts and races.

    So... my question is, can challenging environmental conditions throw max HR and aerobic/anaerobic zones right out the window? Or should I be looking at something else here?

  2. #2
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    Yes, to over simplify things.

    heat and hydration: up

    Fatigue: down

    80 ain't hot though.


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  3. #3
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    To oversimplify things even more:

    Most people won't ever find their max HR and there is no good reason to find it either.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by TDLover View Post
    To oversimplify things even more:

    Most people won't ever find their max HR and there is no good reason to find it either.
    Yeah... I've read that more than once.

    So, I guess the real answer is that my HRM can't really be looked at like a tach on a car, that "number" (anaerobic) is gonna fluctuate, perhaps a lot, given a number of variables?

    Changed thread title to reflect better question....

  5. #5
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    That's the difficulty of basing your zones off max HR. If you are stuck with HR due to not having a power meter, you may find it more useful to use zones that are based on the lactate threshold heart rate (LTHR), for which you would run a test (30 minute?) periodically (monthlyish), giving you a pretty solid average over time.
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  6. #6
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    There are many other factors that can affect HR fluctuation as well, such as: sleep, recovery from prior workout, hydration, illness. There are some general trends with these factors but people react differently and sometimes even have opposite HR reactions from what is expected.

  7. #7
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    I did an LTHR test on Sunday.... so I at least know what that level is.

    It seems like a lot of coaches train to use data during workouts, but race by "feel".

    I see a lot of value in that approach, since as most of you have pointed out, not only is it really difficult to solidly nail down Max HR, there are so many factors that can toss out the "numbers" on race day.

    So now, my structured workouts, I will be paying attention to the numbers, but especially paying attention to the corresponding RPE, so on race day I can connect with the "feeling" rather than looking at a number.

    Thanks for all your input!

  8. #8
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    Take a look at this thread while you're at it. Good information on training and HR...

    Few questions about LTHR, anaerobic threashold etc.

  9. #9
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    I use a HRM and reference it during my race, but don't rely on it. I rely on RPE.

    I have done a max HR test, years ago, running. It sucked, and I don't recommend it even for running, let alone cycling (they are different). Basically, after a warm up run of 2 miles, I sprinted up the hill to my hours (quarter mile climb) until I started to black out, then walked home. When looking at the graph, you can see where my HR flat lined for several seconds before I started to lose vision and backed off.

    You can see why that is dangerous, and ill advised.

  10. #10
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    You'd be better off using a power meter in conjunction with your HRM
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