Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Max heart rate and fitness

As your bodies fitness elevates over the course of the season you'll probably see your maximum heart rate come down. Just how much is really dependent on a variety of factors such as temperature, hydration, blood volume levels and training frequency. Over the years having lots of "athlete friends" I noticed they spoke of maximum heart rate figures as more less a badge of honor when in fact a high max heart rate is not and indicator of fitness levels. I think there was a certain psychology to that thinking and over the years knowledge about the body has dramatically changed. I had a friend whom was a great marathon runner and trained in the high heat quite often, during mid-summer he decided to have a max heart rate test in an air conditioned environment and was baffled by the lower figure than he anticipated. Training in the heat will eventually increase your blood volume and thin out your blood making it flow easier thus reducing the effort your cardio system puts out. Increases also occur in the cardiac stroke volume or how much blood the heart pumps per beat. In a well-trained heart the left ventricle fills more completely as well as produces a more forceful contraction. All these factors along with a max HR test in a cooler environment means his heart did not have to work as hard to cool the body leading to a lower max HR. The heart simply becomes more efficient at pumping. An athlete in the peak of his training can have a 3 to 7% shift in their maximum HR figures. The reverse is also true, as fitness declines your max HR increases. Due to variations with heart rates it's always more accurate to establish training zones using your lactate threshold figures if possible.


Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Cateye Stealth 10 GPS computer

Last year Cateye entered the Cycling GPS market with their Stealth 10 and Stealth 50. The only difference between the two units is that the Stealth 50 comes equipped with Ant+ to handle most speed / cadence / power sensors.

One thing I've come to understand is more tech doesn’t always make you a better athlete. Sometimes an overload of tech can be distracting, especially when something isn't functioning correctly. So I made the decision to purchase the Cateye Stealth 10 which is similar to the Garmin 200. A pretty simple and functional unit, it has mph, the actual time with one optional display (Average speed, distance, elapsed time, distance 2, max speed, and odometer) and gets distance and speed from the GPS connection. The Stealth series uses the standard Cateye mounting system and Barfly makes a mount for the Cateye system. Add to that the Stealth has a waterproof design up to 20 meters.  I prefer not to use my smartphone for GPS tracking especially when I'm on the mountain bike and in rain so this waterproof unit is ideal.  Another nice feature is the time-based back light. You have the ability to determine the hours the computer is backlit.  If the computer is on during this time, it will continuously illuminate up to ten hours. A small drawback is the connect time for GPS which can take a minute or two but no biggie. The unit recharges pretty quickly using a USB port connector and the operating time is around 10 hours. Once you set up the computer you’ll need to download the Cateye App to your computer or laptop which allows you to send your info to Cateye Atlas.com as well as to Training peaks and Strava.

And just for the 3 people out there that don't know, Strava is a free or optional $60.00 full membership app/internet site that cyclists and runners can use to track their routes using a GPS system or a smartphone. Workouts can be uploaded to the strava website and shared globally. Users can create "segments" of rides (a section or road that a lot of people ride that include climbs, sprints or a loop) and compare times.  A KOM or King of the Mountain (or QOM for the top female performance) measures all riders who’ve ever crossed a segment and the top 10 are awarded trophies. Crazy, addictive but a great motivational tool. It adds a "pseudo-social" dimension to any solo workout.

The Cateye Stealth 10 costs around $100 - 120 and the 50 around  $150.00 very affordable for anyone not wanting to use their phones GPS system.
Cateye Stealth with Barfly mount