I never planned on wearing a heart rate monitor. I didn’t ask for one for Christmas. I’ve always been interested in training methods and once wore a polar when I was young but the numbers never made enough sense to be of any use to me. At the time I used the 220 minus your age for max rule and none of the zones made any sense. I may just be catching up to the 20th century but being able to verify my efforts and track my rides is a game changer for me.
It used to be that long rides were tempo and hard rides were flat out and I was right at least half the time but what I’ve already discovered is that the other half of the time I wasn’t really sure if I was going hard or if I was tired. Having a metric on your effort takes an element previously left to the subjectivity of the mind and puts it squarely in the realm of science. There are still plenty of mysteries.
I guess I’ve been dragging my feet. I’m into science, I like taking a practical approach to problem solving. I’m just a little uneasy about giving any more ground to the computers and the robots. I cling to my “ride by feel” code like it’s the only thing between autonomy and complete assimilation in the data vortex. The truth is, I never really thought it would help that much, but, as it turns out, I’m now hooked on the numbers. I’d now feel like I was at work without a tape measure if I’m training without a heart rate monitor.
Training will always be a realm where art and science meet. A close study with some good tools will only move that point of intersection around a bit. It’s not easy to know which roads to explore and which are just a waste of time. It may just come down to watts/kilograms but getting there takes a mix of looking at the details and maintaining the big picture. I improve a little bit all the time but in order to do so I seem to make every possible mistake along the way. Working on my stroke brought some noticeable gains and getting a little better at endurance racing nutrition nudged me up. I can tell after a month of tracking my training that I’ve got a lot of room to improve in how I train.
Moving the thoughts to an area to where then can actually be of use is always an improvement. So, unexpectedly, I’ve got numbers to tell me how I feel and what I need. I guess the next step is to program the garmin to beep at me to tell me when to eat. Now that’s a line I’m not going to cross.