Training without a heart rate monitor

  • Creator
    Topic
  • #52171
    brunoschull
    Participant

    Hi folks. I’ve got a question/theme that I haven’t seen addressed here often: For a variety of personal and psychological reasons, I don’t want to use a heart rate monitor. I’ve been training in one way or another for over thirty years (I’m in my late forties), and I used a heart rate monitor a bunch when I was young, but I have no interest in that now. So I generally go by feel. This spring, my training is basically of two kinds: strength training, and hiking, with some walk/run thrown into the mix, as I recover from a variety of injuries. My plan is to basically keep all my hiking and walking/running to easy nose breathing and light mouth breathing. My goal is to stay firmly in zone 1-2 although one can’t resist occasionally pushing a little harder on a hill, for example, just because it feels good! Volume is about 4-6 hours per week right now, with some longer days every so often. Goal is some long mountain hikes and (slow) trail runs in the late spring, and alpine climbing in the summer. Major pitfalls of this approach? What am I really missing by not using a HR monitor? Is the greater danger going too consistently hard, or not hard enough? Recovery monitoring? And so on. Here’s a quick table about using ventilation to monitor intensity that I copied from TFTNA. Thanks!

    Breaths not noticeable Recovery
    Easy nose breathing 1
    Labored nose breathing to deep breaths 2
    Controlled deep breaths to very deep breaths 3
    Uncontrolled deep breaths 4
    May hold breath 5

  • Moderator
    Shashi on #52174

    Major pitfalls of this approach? What am I really missing by not using a HR monitor? Is the greater danger going too consistently hard, or not hard enough? Recovery monitoring?

    You have been training for thirty years, so most likely you have a good sense of your training intensity zones and what it feels like.

    For many people who are new to training, estimating training zones is tough and using generic formulas is not accurate. Using a heart rate monitor to do AeT/AnT tests and establish heart rate zones would be recommended. Also, on aerobic workouts, monitoring the heart helps to stay in the desired zone.

    The other benefit for people using a structured training plan in Training Peaks is to track their metrics – CTL, TSS, etc. Although an estimate, these metrics help to see the progression over time and plan for an event.

    You might want to read the Uphill Athlete series on Monitoring Intensity.

    Participant
    Emil on #52236

    RPE scales seem to be pretty well correlated with heart rate especially for experienced (and mindful athletes). Lot’s of studies out there. Besides, heart rate does not capture the eccentric muscle strain in downhill running, or lack of it in uphill running.

    Participant
    brunoschull on #52440

    @ Shashi and Emil–thanks for your replies!

    I have a follow-up question–not it gets tricky!

    In the eternal quest to diagnose/identify ADS…how might I approach approximating my AeT and AnT using ventilation/RPE?

    Could I use pace/time/capacity to tell (roughly) if I have ADS? For example, if I can walk/run/hike with light breathing and a light sweat for 3 hours, and so on.

    The question I am trying to ask is, without a heart rate monitor, how can I tell if and when to add some structured intensity into my walking, running, and hiking training?

    Thanks again,

    Bruno

    Moderator
    Shashi on #52476

    how might I approach approximating my AeT and AnT using ventilation/RPE?

    Not sure if read the series on Monitoring Intensity I shared earlier. Part 2 of the series has the information you are looking for.

    This article also lists different methods to determine AeT/AnT and pros/cons of each approach.

    Scott answered a similar question here.

    how can I tell if and when to add some structured intensity into my walking, running, and hiking training?

    Once you find a test that works for you, repeat the AeT/AnT test every month or so (depends on your training volume) and see if your AeT is within 10% of AnT. If it is, then you can add some high-intensity workouts to your training.

    Keymaster
    Scott Semple on #53520

    I think you answered your own question:

    Major pitfalls of this approach?

    My goal is to stay firmly in zone 1-2 although one can’t resist occasionally pushing a little harder on a hill, for example, just because it feels good!

    We all fool ourselves too easily.

    Similar to what’s been said above, with thousands of measured training hours, RPE might be accurate enough to be reliable. As Emil said, an athlete that is both experienced and mindful can probably pull it off. But the reality is that most mistake their experience with mindfulness, tricking themselves into believing what isn’t easy enough is.

    Keymaster
    Scott Semple on #53521

    Related to that though, if you’re using (calibrated) ventilation as a limiter, then that should work, especially if it’s tied to cadence (steps breathing in/out.)

    Participant
    brunoschull on #53525

    Hi Scott–thanks for chiming in. If I’m reading your words correctly, you are suggesting that, unless I’m a super-aware Zen Master type athlete, it’s likely that I am pushing too hard, especially if/when I go a little harder? You’re probably right. Advice to self: slow down and walk more. I do wonder if I have ADS after so many years of endurance training.

    Can you elaborate a little about your second post? I assume that when you write “calibrated ventilation” you mean using a HR monitor to define zones, figuring out my ventilation feel/pattern at each zone, and then applying that? I agree that would work well, but I don’t want to go there. I’m not just being an old dinosaur who doesn’t want to use a heart monitor: one of my challenges (basically my biggest challenge) is mental health…I have struggled with OCD and ADHD since I was a teenager, taken medication for some 20 years, and so on. Part of my neuroses and anxiety are related to heart rate, so it would just be a bad idea to wear a monitor, although, as I said, I wore one for years when I was bike racing at a relatively high level. I’m happy to share more about being an athlete with mental health issues if anybody is curious, but here I was just thinking about training, so I didn’t mention it at first 🙂

    Regarding your second point, what do you mean about matching breaths to cadence? Can that even work on uneven terrain, for example, a single track hiking trail? I love the idea. I have found anything with breaths control and synchronization (meditation, yoga) to be quite powerful. How do you go about match your breaths and cadence?

    OK, thanks again.

Viewing 7 replies - 1 through 7 (of 7 total)
  • You must be logged in to reply to this topic.