January 5, 2012

HR + Run & Bike Tests

I finally completed all three of my assessments this week! The run and bike tests were a little different than the swim test and were more like time trials. Both also marked my first foray into heart rate training. I've avoided it in the past for a few reasons, even though I was well aware of the benefits. First, it seemed like an extra hassle and yet another data point to complicate things. Second, I honestly didn't want to know. I worried that I would find out that my heart was working super hard for what I'd deemed an "easy" pace. Despite my worries though, both tests required heart rate training as will much of my training, so it was time to suck it up!

I did the run test Tuesday morning, and I'll admit, I was more anxious than I expected. I think I just had high expectations for myself since of the three triathlon disciplines, running is my "thing". I also haven't been doing any type of speedwork since Chicago, so I wasn't sure what I'd even be capable of. The goal of the test was to do a 30 minute time trial at a fast, but sustainable, pace. I interpreted this as tempo pace, and hoped to be anywhere from 8:00-8:20. After a 10 minute warm-up I kicked it up a notch. I didn't look at the pace on my Garmin but rather tried to run by feel. I stopped once to stretch out my hip flexor that had bothered me on my last long run, but it seemed to warm-up after that and has felt good since.

As I was running on the levy, I spotted a rogue coyote trotting along down on the bike trail. Most of the coyotes around here are pretty harmless, but I kept one eye on it until I was well past it. The run was definitely a hard effort and I felt pretty spent by the end of the 30 minutes. I managed to run 3.72 miles for the time trial with an average pace of 8:04. My heart rate definitely reflected the intensity of the run: 176 avg, 185 max. All things considered, I'm pretty happy with how I did, especially since this just gives us a baseline to work from in training. Rounded out the run to 5 miles with a cool-down back home.

I did the bike test today and was much less nervous! Probably because I know I suck on the bike and had pretty low expectations. Once again I didn't exactly know what to expect or what to aim for, but I figured I'd just put in a hard effort and see what happened. The format was the same as the run test so after a 10 minute warm-up I chose a fixed gear combo (big ring in front, 5th ring in back) and started the time trial! The goal was to maintain about 80-90 rpms at a hard, but sustainable, effort. By using the big ring I was able to get more power with each pedal stroke, but I kept the back gear in the middle so I wasn't grinding too much.

I actually felt really good during the ride and was surprised to see my heart rate much lower than on the run test. I got faster in the second half and was hitting 18+ mph in the final third. In hindsight, I'm wondering if I should've pushed harder! I covered 8.77 miles over the 30 minutes with an average speed of 17.5 mph. I think I could probably do a bit better, but my goal was to be consistent and maintain a fast cadence. Heart rate was 154 avg, 168 max. I rode the 15 minutes back to my house at a nice, easy speed and finished with a total of 15 miles for the day.
an absolutely gorgeous day for a ride!
I'm glad to have these assessments done and am excited to have a baseline to help monitor my progress. Hopefully I can look back on these over the upcoming months and see how far I've come!


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