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Here is one for the training gurus...

Which is "trump", rate of percieved exertion, or heart rate? I know heart rate can fluctuate drastically just because of changes in the temperature, let alone a host of other outside factors... So, that in mind, should I pay more attention to RPE, or should I stick doggedly to heart rate?

I ask this as I went for my ride today, and while I felt great, like I usually do in zone 2 (as defined by friel), my heart rate was pushing the upper end of zone 3 for a chunk of the ride.

thoughts?

thanks
pmiska
 

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None of the above. The answer is power. You make the watts or you don't. Sometimes you can go into a race feeling like [email protected] (i.e. lots of RPE), but still make the watts. On the other hand, sometimes you'll feel great and not make the watts.

Neither HR nor RPE are really that great at telling you whether you are making the watts or not. They are the result of making some watts, but they are pretty poor indicators of how many watts, exactly, you are making.
 

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A toss

pmiska said:
Which is "trump", rate of percieved exertion, or heart rate?
If you've been riding a while and are in tune with your body, perceived exertion is just as good as HR. Many people have reported that what they learned from getting an HRM was "Oh, that is what my heart rate is when I feel like that." Obviously, power is better, but assuming you don't want/need to spend that kind of money, and assuming that you haven't been riding long enough to be that sensitive, an HRM is probably a good choice.
 

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shawndoggy said:
None of the above. The answer is power. You make the watts or you don't. Sometimes you can go into a race feeling like [email protected] (i.e. lots of RPE), but still make the watts. On the other hand, sometimes you'll feel great and not make the watts.

Neither HR nor RPE are really that great at telling you whether you are making the watts or not. They are the result of making some watts, but they are pretty poor indicators of how many watts, exactly, you are making.
But what do the watts tell you? Not all that much really. Sure, they lay out an absolute number for output, but it's data, not information. They tell you if you are going faster or not - but so does a $10 speedo. Watts have no idea if you are over- or under- trained. If you train to a given output, the chances that you are either over or under training are pretty much 100%. It's why most power meters also include HR info, and all respectable training programs using power meters include HR info as a major component.

An HR tells you like nothing else can if you need to dial it back or crank it up to get the most out of a given training session. If you are underhydrated or you muscles are underrecovered, your heartrate will spike tossing you leg over the saddle. If you're fully recovered, you'll be huffing for 10 minutes before the display stops beeping at you.

If you are tuned into your body, percieved effort can get you close. The problem is that psychology plays a big role there - you're body can be set to go, but if your head isn't into it, 15mph is going to be 'the wall.' It's why pros have coaches hanging out car doors hollering encouragement - your brain will tell you you're done long before your body really is..

None of the three is perfect - they compliment each other well.
 

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danl1 said:
But what do the watts tell you? Not all that much really. Sure, they lay out an absolute number for output, but it's data, not information. They tell you if you are going faster or not - but so does a $10 speedo. Watts have no idea if you are over- or under- trained. If you train to a given output, the chances that you are either over or under training are pretty much 100%. It's why most power meters also include HR info, and all respectable training programs using power meters include HR info as a major component.
Yes, power is data not information but that is equally true of heart rate and it would really take a book to describe how that data can be used for training and racing: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/19...f=pd_bbs_1/104-6789480-8539942?_encoding=UTF8
As to over/under training, power is the only data that lets you evaluate accumulated training stress from workouts and so is an excellent predictor of over/under training. In fact, tools are available which have been shown to predict peaks with great accuracy from downloaded power data and can be used to plan training to arrive at peak condition at particular times. http://procyclingnews.com/default.asp?pg=fullstory&id=3331
By giving real-time feedback on power at functional threshold, VO2max, etc. power data lets you set training levels that are correct for your current fitness and the very process of training also tests these level allowing for frequent updating. I think you'll find that inclusion if heart rate data on power meters is for historical reasons from when training with power was not as developed as it is today and consumers demanded that additional data. My experience is that as riders train more with power, they rely less on heart rate, and most riders I know with power meters no longer use heart rate data at all.
 

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No disagreements, other than perhaps the suggestion that power is the "only" method for determining accumulated training stress, or for that matter that it's necessarily the best. All I can say is that opinions (and marketing materials) vary.

Yes, power is good for setting training at a level appropriate to current (macro) fitness, but the HRM data provides micro values that power cannot. Peak prediction isn't such grand science - periodization models have been around longer than even HRM data. It's absolutely true that power is useful for training planning, but for actual on-the-bike information, HR has some advantages.

For example, in-ride recovery times give a handy indication of what's left in the tank. If it takes too long to recover from the last hill, interval, sprint, etc., you may want to conserve for the end of the ride. Yes, you know this mostly by feel anyway, but the HR data can help separate mentally feeling like crap from actually performing like crap. For on the bike tactical decisioning, power is less useful.

Heartrate is sensitive to hydration levels, and can help keep you from overstressing - even when the power prediction is saying you should be running at a higher output, but can't know how much you are sweating.

Power (in the absence of a periodization model post-applied to the data) has no way to compensate for accumulated stress. It can say "I performed well today" or "I'm likely to perform badly this week", but it has no way to say "drop a cog, big guy." HR does, if somewhat imperfectly. One of the first concepts of any training plan is that adequate rest is as important as adequate work. Power is great for the planning of training, certainly more accurate and useful than HR data in that regard. But HR data has it's place too, and folks that ignore it are shortchanging their training plans.

I suppose what I'm trying to say is that power data talks in weeks and months, HR data in days and hours. They are complementary. Especially in the absense of adequate live-action coaching, HR gains importance as a part of training.

Interestingly, the assertion of power's value as a predictor of performance is cast into some doubt by the footnote of the article:"** I distinguish between racing and training because nine times out of ten, athletes see their personal best peak power outputs in races compared to their training. The extra adrenaline and motivation associated with competition bring outs (sic) the best data. " If power data were perfectly valid as a predictor, this would not be the case - the graph would tell all, and not all races hit all training peaks. Again, this is a macro vs micro argument, but even at the macro level there's still truth. If I'm lazy, the powermeter will say I put out less watts that day, but can't say if it's a motivational or physical issue. HR data can add info, differentiating between lazy and weak.

You've mentioned that power allows for in-training testing at VO2max, functional threshold, etc, and that's true - provided that the athlete in question actually functions at that level in that session. Two concerns here: First, plotting against inaccurate data points because the athlete isn't operating at highest functional levels that day. (HR isn't included for "historical" purposes; among other things, it's there to evaluate the quality of the power data.) Second, there exists the concern that the athlete in question will perform at those levels to create a data point during a training period that shouldn't include that level of effort. Most experts agree that this sort of testing-level effort should only occur monthly or perhaps bi-weekly. There is a strong argument that testing should be restricted to testing conditions, as much for mental as data-quality reasons. There is nothing that a powermeter provides that a speedometer on a trainer cannot also provide, other than a standardized metric, and that is convenient but not essential.

There are some theories that suggest that subpeak loads can be interpolated into adequate data points, which would make continuous power measurement more useful. But those models require a standard against which to interpolate, and that standard is - guess what - HR.

Strictly opinion: Power-based training is a terrific tool for top-level athletes with adequate coaching. Fabulous stuff for wringing out those last few percentage points of performance. For the weekend warrior thru cat3-ish racer, it's somewhere between an expensive toy and a potientially detrimental motivator. There are plenty of things that the grand or so that a powermeter costs could be spent on that would have greater long-term benefit to the athlete, including professional coaching sessions.
 

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Disagree

danl1 said:
...but the HRM data provides micro values that power cannot. Peak prediction isn't such grand science - periodization models have been around longer than even HRM data. It's absolutely true that power is useful for training planning, but for actual on-the-bike information, HR has some advantages. ...
Only power can provide total work done in Kj. This is the accumulated training stress that cannot be replicated by HR alone.

MicroValues: Do a 10 second sprint and compare power information to HR information.

Periodization by training stress and Kj output is here to stay I'm afraid.
 

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Power (in the absence of a periodization model post-applied to the data) has no way to compensate for accumulated stress. It can say "I performed well today" or "I'm likely to perform badly this week", but it has no way to say "drop a cog, big guy." HR does, if somewhat imperfectly.
Here's a problem with relying just on HR -- say you've determined your threshold HR by doing a 40K TT. Now say you want to do shorter intervals over threshold. Lets say five minute intervals because five is a nice round number. You should put out more power than you do during your 40K TT, right? By looking at your hrm, how do you know whether you've accomplished that goal? In all likelihood you'll be within 3% +/- on HR at the end of this type of interval as you were on your 40K TT. Did you do more work? How much more? How do you know? Same goes for an all out sprint... that probably won't result in a HR that's more than 5% higher than threshold HR, but you're likely to put out 4-7x more power then. But how do you tell whether you are at 4x or 7x looking at the hrm?

I don't disagree that everyone needs to pay attention to how their body is reacting to training, but RPE works way better for that than HR in the cases you cite. As for determining how much work you are actually doing, HR is pretty imprecise.
 

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You need to use both heart rate and power together!

THe Borg RPE scale is use to define how you feel and if you are depressed cuz u just got passed by a kid on a bmx bike your RPE will go up. Completely subjective.

On the other hand HR is an actual number and is vrey useful to determine how you hard you are working. For example if you train to power it doesnt tell you stress on the body only how much work you are doing. If you tell lance armstrong to train to 200watts he is undertraining where as if you take the fattest guy you know and tell him to train to 25watts he will likely overtrain and have a heart attack and die right there. You need to look at your HR and a given power. This tells you how your body (HR) is repsonding to the the work it is doing (watts). This is why when you get a exercise stress test (to check your VO2max) the monitor both HR and work (on a treadmill the use METs).

If you want to optimize your training and you only use one or the othre you are cheating yourself.
 
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