Saturday, February 12, 2011

Running vs Cycling Stats

Garmin FR60 Men's Red Fitness Watch (Includes Heart Rate Monitor and USB ANT Stick)
Garmin FR60
So yesterday after a week of ice-induced UPS delays I finally got my Garmin FR60.  I chose this particular fitness watch to track my runs and strength workouts due to its compatibility with my existing Garmin HR monitor and GSC10 speed/cadence sensor.  This will give me the ability to better track my overall training load and predict performance.  During a discussion about HR zones relative to perceived running paces (i.e. jogging vs running), I was presented with the phrase, "cyclists and their darn heart-rates!"  The implication was clear, as a cyclist I tend to be too focused on heart-rate which is definitely true to some extent.  However, it's a false perception that I thought could use some clarification.  There are inherent differences in training for the 2 sports that someone newly venturing into the multi-sport arena should be aware of.

In running, progress and performance is very much pace-driven.  However in cycling, speed is the most useless of all stats when it comes to tracking progress.  Why?  Well, a whole host of reasons.  A bicycle is affected to a much greater degree by it's environment.  Inclines, declines, road surface, wind, and drafting all play a much larger role in the speed of a cyclist than they do the pace of a runner.  Then there's the bike itself, I venture to say that changes to the bike like wheels with less rolling resistance, a bottom bracket with good bearings, the frame itself, and on and on and on have a more significant affect on speed than do a new pair of shoes for a runner.  So if you're a runner just trying out cycling, how do you gauge your fitness?

Garmin Edge 500 GPS Bicycle Unit
My bike computer - the Garmin Edge 500.
Still looking for a power meter to pair with.
Well for cyclists the ultimate stat is your power to weight ratio.  Weight is easy enough but in order to track power plan on spending over $1000 for the low end gear.  What? You can't justify that much money for a power meter?  Yeah, well either can I.  So what do we have left?  There's 2 other major stat categories.  One of those is cadence which is useful for both sports.  I won't delve into it here but both have clearly defined "optimal" cadences for efficiency.  The other stat is ...... you guessed it --- heart-rate.  Yep, the best I can do as a cyclist without a power meter is look at my speed relative to heartrate in comparable situations.  For this reason almost all training is done with HR target zones otherwise it'd be near impossible to judge performance gains.  Well, there is perceived exertion but we all know how reliable our own perception is when pushed to the edge.  Completely untrustworthy.  So, until I get a power meter (compatible with my Garmin Edge 500 of course), forgive me if I'm too focused on HR zones.

1 comment:

Lesley @ racingitoff.com said...

Love this post. Bwahahahahahaha... darn heartrates!