In the age of training plans and online workouts, have you ever found yourself with a burning question you’d like to ask a cycling coach directly? Well, now is your chance to ask! In this series, we’ll put your questions to expert coaches – send them to [email protected].
What is the ideal heart rate range on a 100 km / 60 mi ride? The first thing to consider when answering this question is: what is the purpose of running? Is it to complete the journey as quickly as possible? Or is it as part of endurance training in preparation for your first 100 mile ride or a long athletic ride?
The intention behind the ride has a big bearing on what the ideal heart rate will be. We’ll explain the nuances and what range you should be aiming for a bit further. For now, let’s quickly run through the background you need to know.
Heart rate monitors are incredibly useful for making sure that intervals or an entire run is being done at the right intensity. This can allow you to pace yourself effectively for your best results, or it can be used to keep you in specific training zones as part of a larger training plan, which balances intensity with recovery when working towards a specific goal.
The relationship between heart rate (HR) and exercise intensity is linear – this means that as we go harder, we see an increase in HR until we reach our maximum HR. .. and then we can only go on for a few more minutes.
However, other responses to exercise intensity are not linear. Rather, the physical response to exercise can be divided into three intensity bands – physiologists call these exercise intensity domains.
Each domain has a specific set of answers. In the easiest range, known as the “moderate range”, blood lactate levels remain at baseline levels and breathing is controlled; as long as you keep eating, you can sustain this intensity for more than five hours.
In the second domain, known as the “heavy” domain, blood and respiratory lactate levels are high but remain stable; you can exercise in this area for up to about three hours.
Finally, in the third domain, known as the “severe” domain, respiration rates and blood lactate will increase even if you continue to train at the same intensity, i.e. until you are no longer able to continue, for as long as possible. in this area is about 30 to 45 minutes.
Fortunately, there are good, simple ways (other than a lab test) to determine the HR range that makes up each exercise intensity domain. The border between the moderate and heavy domains – the first threshold – is where you can no longer speak continuously without stopping to breathe.
The boundary between the heavy and severe domains, the second threshold, is your HR threshold; The average heart rate in a 25 mile TT is a great way to determine this.
Drive 100 km at full speed
If you’re looking to maximize your 100km performance, you need to ride at an intensity that you can sustain for 100km. It will be in the heavy field. Your heart rate will need to be somewhere between the first and second thresholds throughout the ride. At first glance, this may seem quite a range; However, to minimize the time needed to cover 100 km, you may need to vary your pace.
During an effort, it is more efficient to push in the slowest passages (coasts and headwind) and to retreat in the faster passages (downhills and tailwind).
To maximize your performance on a 100km course, I would suggest always staying between the first and second thresholds, but being at the upper end of that range in the more difficult sections and at the lower end of this range during the easier sections.
Now let’s see how we could approach a 100 km run if we wanted to maximize endurance adaptations.
Whenever we choose to do a specific training session, we should ask ourselves; what is special about this session? The key differentiator between a long 100km ride and a short interval session is duration; but what is so special about the duration of the exercise?
Exercise adaptations can be broadly divided into two areas: The amount of oxygen you can deliver to the leg muscles – these are the core adaptations. And how much power can the leg muscles produce with this oxygen – these are called peripheral adaptations.
Again (very) broadly, intense exercise generally promotes peripheral adaptations, while exercise of longer duration promotes central adaptations.
An extremely important central adaptation is the number of small blood vessels, called capillaries, that you have in your leg muscles. The more capillaries there are, the more easily oxygen can be transported from the blood to the muscles. Interestingly, the stimulus to grow more capillaries doesn’t seem to be increased if we train harder. It is rather influenced by the duration of the exercise.
This means that we get the same benefit, in terms of capillarization at least, from an easy 100 km as from a hard 100 km. Therefore, it makes sense to keep longer journeys easy and save power for more difficult journeys where you target these peripheral adaptations.
What you eat and drink before, during and after a long journey is also essential, so be sure to check out our guide on how to fuel up for long distance journeys here.
So if you’re looking to maximize endurance adaptations in a 100k run, my advice would be to keep it nice and easy (in the moderate range) at an intensity that you can easily carry on a conversation. Not only does this mean you get the stimulus you’re looking for without getting too tired, but it also means you can chat with your friends – speeding up with others is nice, but there are also some basics you need to know. you can find our guide on how to cycle in a group here.