I came across a tidbit in a running magazine, of all places, that I'm planning to work into my bike training in the days ahead. It was an allusion to Lon Haldeman's "90% rule." Ninety percent rule? The only detail offered was that during the indoor season, the great long-distance cyclist recommended one hour of training at over 90 percent heart rate per week.
Even before seeing this, my interest in using heart rate in my bike training had been growing. The Computrainer tracks that info and puts it right on the screen in front of me, so while mainly focused on power, I had also begun watching the rising and falling of my heart rate.
This was new for me. At various points in my life I have used heart rate with running—but never with cycling. When I started watching my heart rate on the Computrainer this month, I was reminded of something I vaguely remembered noting the few times I had checked it on rides several years ago: I could easily drive my HR to 90 percent—near 180—for run intervals, but on the bike, where 185 seemed to be my max, getting to 170 (90%) was possible but I could hold it there for only very short periods of time.
This made me think the Haldeman Rule was perhaps out of my reach. Maybe there was something about my body that made getting my cycling HR up and holding it there just not possible?
Then I found Dan Empfield writing on the topic on Slowtwitch, setting me straight:
[I]t isn't set in stone that your heart rate must be 10 or 15 beats lower while on the bike versus running. If you can't get your heart rate up while cycling, it's simply because you're a better runner than a cyclist. The idea is not to attempt to raise your heart rate for the heck of it, but to raise the level of your cycling ability so that your well-trained cardiovascular system can get off he bench and into the game.That sound OK to me; I'd already decided that this year my prime—even overwhelming—focus would be on improving my cycling.
Haldeman does some interesting stuff to force himself to ride with intensity. "I replaced the handlebar with chrome high-rise bars from a kid’s String Ray," he writes. "Then I took off the seat so I have to stand for entire workouts. The handlebar is high enough so I can’t lean on it and cheat the weight off the pedals. I push a big gear at about 60 rpm."
Lon didn't have a Computrainer, but I do. So it's obvious what I need to do. Find myself a course with a long, steep climb. Set the pacer for about 240 watts. And work like a maniac to try to stay with him.
Tomorrow: Shooting for 90% on the trainer.