By Leandro Lutz
Long-distance skiing athletes train relentlessly to reach the pinnacle of endurance, strength, speed and technique at different levels of intensity.
But how can you control the intensity of your workouts? There are some different ways to control the intensity of our trainings and for many athletes the most practical and efficient is using a heart rate monitor.
The technology is not new, invented in the 70s, but even today many athletes don’t have the habit of training by controlling their heart rate. I have been using heart monitors, always the same brand, for the last 23 years, since when I was an amateur and professional cyclist and from 2009 when I made the transition to Nordic skiing and biathlon.
But what is the heart rate monitor and what is its importance for Nordic skiing athletes?
The monitor is an important device to verify the cardiac response during aerobic exercises, be it intervals or steady ones. Consisting mostly of a watch, an optical sensor and/or a chest strap, its main purpose is to monitor the variable heart rate (HR) response, ensuring that you do not exceed your limits and achieve the benefits you want in your training.
Some heart rate monitors are simpler, others more modern, which in turn offer several additional functions, such as the option of target zone training, GPS, among other tools that will allow the athlete to obtain detailed information about their training, such as average hear rate, maximum and minimum value, recovery time, estimated VO2max.
To use the monitor correctly, it is necessary to know, first and foremost, your maximum heart rate. This can be discovered through a maximum effort test or roughly through the 220-age (in years) formula.
Once knowing your maximum heart rate, we will have our training zones, which usually are divided into 5 (there may be variations) and the information always comes as a percentage of the Maximum Heart Rate:
1. Very Light - 50 to 60% of the Maximum Heart Rate
2. Light - 60 to 70% of the Maximum Heart Rate
3. Moderate - 70 to 80% of the Maximum Heart Rate
4. Hard - 80 to 90% of the Maximum Heart Rate
5. Maximum - 90 to 100% of the Maximum Heart Rate
Here's an extra tip!
Basal heart rate or resting heart rate is a good indicator of your fitness. The better conditioned you are, the lower your baseline heart rate will be. To measure it, when you wake up, place your monitor and, without getting out of bed, record your heart rate after lying down for a few minutes. Record the lowest heart rate value.
Make it a habit to check your heart rate during the week. If this rate is 5 beats above its normal value, consider lowering the intensity of the workout and just training light. If the heart rate is changed by 8 or more beats, consider taking a rest day. A high basal heart rate is a sign that your body has not yet recovered from past workouts, or that your resistance is low and your body is susceptible to getting sick.
In the next article we will analyze the training zones and their importance for a better performance in your training and competitions. Stay tuned!