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Making Sense of my HR Data

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Making Sense of my HR Data

Post  Ben Z on Wed Jul 31, 2013 1:54 am

So I just looked at my HR data for my first 50 miler. Would love any input on what it all means. Seems I really slacked off during that 7-8 hour stretch just as I remember. Looks like I gotta stay in it mentally a bit better as I was clearly capable of running faster since I was able to get my HR back up after that. My avg HR for the day was 148. I'm pretty proud of that at first glance because that would equate to about my easy, long run road effort. This is about 74% of my max (give or take). Here is a picture of the graph:



If anyone has raced a 50 before what type of effort is sustainable?
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Re: Making Sense of my HR Data

Post  ounce on Wed Jul 31, 2013 8:21 am

I would be curious to know elevation and pace during your race.

But let's presume it was a flat 50.  I would say your pace started falling off during the latter part of the 3rd hour, but stabilized to 6 hours, then fell off again because your heart rate appears to show 3 different levels.

I would also say your heart is very capable of maintaining any endurance pace your body can produce.  In my opinion, your heart was not taxed during the whole race.  Your heart is very efficient.
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Re: Making Sense of my HR Data

Post  Mark B on Wed Jul 31, 2013 10:17 am

Interesting graph, Ben. I think there are a couple of different ways you could look at it.

1. Looking at the overall slope, I wonder if you might have pushed it a little too hard in the first half, which led to that fall off in the second as your body realized you were in this for the long haul and tried to balance the overall stress load on your body. (That's my interpretation of the central governor theory, for what it's worth. For a great article on the central governor theory and how it applies to ultras, click here.)

2. Correlating the HR data with the course, it looks like your HR started to fall after you reached Buck Creek and started that long, long climb up Sun Top Mountain. I remember in your report that you said you couldn't maintain intensity there, and it shows in the data. The bigger fall-off, though, seemed to come after you crested Sun Top and hit that big downhill. You eased back on the speed, and your HR dropped as a result. Easing through the last, more technical, section also kept you below your target.

I have to also note that all of these issues (feeling of fatigue, falling HR) came after you'd surpassed the 50K mark. This was your first time running beyond 50K, right? This was all new territory for your body and mind, so its not surprising that it backed off a bit, wondering what in the world you were doing to yourself.

Now that your body knows better what to expect, you might be able to sustain a higher effort level in those last 20 miles.  I said "might" because, hey, it's an ultra. You never know exactly what you're gonna get. Smile
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Re: Making Sense of my HR Data

Post  Ben Z on Wed Jul 31, 2013 5:34 pm

@ounce wrote:I would be curious to know elevation and pace during your race.

But let's presume it was a flat 50.  I would say your pace started falling off during the latter part of the 3rd hour, but stabilized to 6 hours, then fell off again because your heart rate appears to show 3 different levels.

I would also say your heart is very capable of maintaining any endurance pace your body can produce.  In my opinion, your heart was not taxed during the whole race.  Your heart is very efficient.

 It was a very shaded, hilly race so I opted to stop using the GPS to measure pace. My splits there are not accurate. But I do have a profile of the course for you to compare with:

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Re: Making Sense of my HR Data

Post  Ben Z on Wed Jul 31, 2013 5:41 pm

@Mark B wrote:Interesting graph, Ben. I think there are a couple of different ways you could look at it.

1. Looking at the overall slope, I wonder if you might have pushed it a little too hard in the first half, which led to that fall off in the second as your body realized you were in this for the long haul and tried to balance the overall stress load on your body. (That's my interpretation of the central governor theory, for what it's worth. For a great article on the central governor theory and how it applies to ultras, click here.)

2. Correlating the HR data with the course, it looks like your HR started to fall after you reached Buck Creek and started that long, long climb up Sun Top Mountain. I remember in your report that you said you couldn't maintain intensity there, and it shows in the data. The bigger fall-off, though, seemed to come after you crested Sun Top and hit that big downhill. You eased back on the speed, and your HR dropped as a result. Easing through the last, more technical, section also kept you below your target.

I have to also note that all of these issues (feeling of fatigue, falling HR) came after you'd surpassed the 50K mark. This was your first time running beyond 50K, right? This was all new territory for your body and mind, so its not surprising that it backed off a bit, wondering what in the world you were doing to yourself.

Now that your body knows better what to expect, you might be able to sustain a higher effort level in those last 20 miles.  I said "might" because, hey, it's an ultra. You never know exactly what you're gonna get. Smile

 Thanks for the feedback Mark.

Yes, after topping out at Sun Top I definitely fell off. I knew I was in super chill mode effortwise but my legs let me down. But I guess it's good news that my aerobic system doesn't appear to be a limiting factor to greatly improve in the short-term. It certainly appears the next step is to build my leg strength for these longer efforts. That looks to be where I'll get the most bang for my buck for the next training cycle.

Yes, it was the first time going over 50k. And I'm sure you are right - my brain put my body in to preservation mode. It certainly did this as I was close to having back spasms on the 6 mile stretch shortly after the 7 hour mark on the graph where my HR stayed lower coming out of the aid station.

I found it interesting too that even with the long stop to change shoes and socks at mile 27 (the big dip around 5 hours on the graph) my HR never dipped below 100. I was probably sitting down for a good 5 min there I would bet. I was trying to hurry myself there so I bet the adrenaline keep it elevated.
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Re: Making Sense of my HR Data

Post  KBFitz on Sun Aug 04, 2013 7:48 am

@Ben Z wrote:...Would love any input on what it all means.

If anyone has raced a 50 before what type of effort is sustainable?
It means that you put in a commendable sustained effort over the distance. It's very encouraging, actually, that you were able to pick it back up after a slight drop-off in the eighth hour (attributable mostly to a long down grade). Your engine is in great shape and did not let you down.

As I don't traffic in the %Max metric, I can't tell you in %Max HR terms what is sustainable over 50 miles. But with 3 completed JFK50s under my belt, here's what I've learned. My 10K race effort is roughly 160 BPM. I can sustain 145 BPM over a 50 miler and may be able to hold closer to 150 on a brilliant day. So 15 BPM lower than 10k effort is my max sustainable over the 50 mile distance.
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