Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Subbed a class this morning

I had to sub a 6am class this morning for an instructor who had to take her dog to an oncologist in Denver today. :-(

Since I am doing some HIT intervals tomorrow at 6, and many of these people come 3-4 days a week, I decided to keep it aerobic and did my stalwart go-to profile of a HR Pyramid.

Ah man what a fantastic workout! Nothing too hard, but amazingly effective. I had them take their threshold (most have done the LT field test with me), or 85%MHR if they didn't know it, and round it down to the nearest multiple of 5. So in my case, my LT is 157, so I rounded it to 155. That was my ceiling. Then I subtracted 30, to get 125, and that was my floor. And then we raised it 5 beats every 5 minutes, for 6 increases.

Half the class had HRMs. For the others, I used descriptions of what they should be feeling, asking them to be very subtle in their increases, and to maintain control of their breath. As we got 15, then 10, then 5 beats from the ceiling, I told them to make sure they had room to increase, knowing they didn't want to go to the point of a burning sensation in the legs. The ceiling, just below LT, is a solid sensation of effort without the burning. We are producing lactate at a high rate now, but we are still able to flush it from the system. Any  higher, just a few beats higher, and that lactate would accumulate, the increased acidity would be felt as that familiar burning sensation. Don't go there! It's work, it's breathing, but it's not breathless. At the top two levels, you are very aware of heart rate in your chest. 

This profile, more than almost any other that I teach, really shows how much control one has (or doesn't have) over ones intensity. It requires a lot of focus, and it requires a lot of time seated in the saddle, so your students must trust you. It also shows that "aerobic" doesn't have to be easy. As we crept up the pyramid, the work effort increased. Everyone was sweating. Everyone was breathing, but in a manageable way. But by staying below LT, we were staying predominantly aerobic, using fat as our fuel source.

Novice riders, or ones who are new to using HRMs, may not have as easy a time keeping the HR stable, or increasing it incrementally at first. This takes practice, and is a wonderful benchmark for controlled pacing.

Try it. It really opens some eyes, and light bulbs go off as they become aware of subtle intensity increases. This is a good one to lend a HRM or two out to students to learn how effective they can be.

EDIT this evening:
YUM YUM! I taught this same profile for the second time today in my regular 5:30 p.m. class. I only had two guys in class and both had their heart rate monitors. They both enjoyed the ride, and I loved it even more the second time around. It's such a delicious intensity range, that's the best way for me to describe it! I was sweating profusely, and felt pleasantly worked without ever feeling a burning sensation or feeling like I had to slow down. My legs never felt heavy during the ride, which is what you're trying to get your students to buy into - it's not necessary to go anaerobic (above LT) to have a great workout.

At the ceiling intensity, just below LT, I told them this would be the intensity that someone would do a century ride (100 miles) and strive for a very good time (5-6 hours). 10 beats below LT would be a century pace for someone working diligently, but not trying to break any records, maybe a 6-7 hr pace. And 20 beats below, maybe an 8-hour casual pace with friends, so you could talk the whole time with your riding partners with the goal of just finishing. At the base intensity, you'd be picked up by the sag wagon because it got dark before you finished!

I had a harder time getting my heart rate up to my base level at the beginning, having to put some effort out just to get to 125 bpm. But once I was sufficiently warmed up (20 minutes into class), I nailed each level much better than this morning, especially the higher three levels, holding them within one beat either side.

Both of them commented how much they learned about their own intensity and their ability to control it. Bingo!

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