A couple of months ago, I was riding with some friends when one asked me, “Do you use a heart rate monitor?”
“No,” I said. “I’m afraid if I saw the numbers, they’d scare me to death.”
My wife got a heart rate monitor a year ago, and used it when she went to workout classes. But lately, she hasn’t been taking it along. So last month, I asked her if I could use it. She fiddled with it a bit, and reset it to what we figured was my maximum heart rate, and I strapped it on and went for a ride.
My initial reaction was pretty much dead on. At the top of a healthy hill, I was at 169 beats per minute, two above my maximum heart rate of 167. Wow. I didn’t know whether to be proud or worried.
Since then, I’ve worn it on most rides (sometimes, I get all dressed and ready to go, and then I notice I’ve forgotten the thing) and I’ve been learning something about how I function. I’ve only gone above 167 once, although I regularly hit the low to mid 160’s. Of more interest to me is recovery time. When I do hit those high numbers, I drop down into the 130’s quickly.
When I bonked in the heat last week, my heart rate didn’t recover at its usual rapid rate. I was waiting for my wife to pick me up, sitting quietly in the shade of a tree, and the monitor still registered in the 120s. I had expected it to get below 100 beats, since, even though I was worn out from the effort, I wasn’t moving around much.
I’ve noticed several of the other guys on our Sunday B ride use HRMs, too. I guess that’s a good thing — at least we’re concerned about our health, and are taking steps to make sure we stay healthy.
But I’ve never really dug into the ins and outs of the gizmo. The “user manual” — a many-times folded over sheet of paper with tiny print — can’t be located, so I’ve never learned just what else I can do with the thing besides notice how fast my heart is beating. I suppose I’ll have to check around to see what kind of resources are available.
So, Noob readers — who else out there uses a heart rate monitor? What are some of the arcane figures I should be looking at besides top end and recovery time? And since my body is pretty good about letting me know when I’ve pushed it too far, do I really need to be using an HRM at all?