Endurance Workouts: Heart rate higher than expected

So I just finished up a training block which included a recovery/endurance ride week and I noticed that my HR is higher than expected for my endurance. For quick context:

  • 30 Years Old
  • FTP was 235 at the time of listed workouts, now 244 (Thanks FTP AI!)
  • Max HR is ~192

So for context here are two recent, non-endurance workouts where I feel my HR is more or less where it should be:

Galena -2 (Sweet Spot 5.8) - Average HR 159

Hot Springs (Sweet Spot 4.9) - Average HR 158

And here are the last two endurance workouts I did:

Andrews (Endurance 5.4) - Average HR 161

Fletcher (Endurance 4.1) - Average HR 161

I would expect the average heart rate for the endurance workouts to be ~130-140. And while I was experiencing some significant life stressors when I did those workouts I still don’t expect heart rates to be that high.

Is it as simple as I just need to focus on more endurance rides and focus on improving my aerobic fitness? Am I paying too much attention to heart rate? I have a clean bill of health and FWIW my resting heart rate is ~50 bpm and HRV is ~70.

Its interesting but HR is a fickle thing and I wouldn’t overthink it, instead concentrate on power.

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I Notice my heart rate a little higher than normal when I’m on a bumpy road or mountain bike trail. Also if i had too much coffee before the ride. It’s definitely a weird thing with heart rate. Was your RPE any higher? If not then it could be a lot of things even your life stress plays a role.

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I feel obliged to chalk it up to a major life stress (sick dog who ultimately passed).

But I would say on a day I have little stress my HR for 5.x endurance workout would be ~150.

My max hr is around 191 and my average heart rate during endurance workouts will be around 155. It has always bothered me that my heart rate is so high during medium efforts when i feel comfortable. I feel a bit embarrassed to usually have the highest heart rate in a group. My power zones do not match up with the heart rate zones at all and they never have. I think that it is just the way my body works. i ignore the heart rate and just use the power indicators.

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Looking at your heart rate curve for the endurance rides, especially the first one, it doesn’t seem to behave as expected. I have trouble seeing a reason that your heart rate should oscillate like that if you are performing steady endurance work.

It’s either something wrong with your equipment or your heart. Pick the one that scares you the least.

Depending on what point of your training plan you are at it may be due to blood plasma or stroke volume. I find that my HR gets a little higher than usual during my first block of training back and then normalizes after about 2-3 weeks.

Bold thing to say based on one workout graph but thanks for the concern:

Yeah I usually average 150 BPM for harder endurance workouts but the last two were particular high. I am more inclined to think those were anomalies due to stress. I also tend to do Zwift rides in lieu of my scheduled endurance workouts so maybe I missed some endurance gains doing so.

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Looking at the Sweet Spot workouts you hit a high HR of 179. But the average comes down due to the recovery intervals between the Sweet Spot intervals. So I believe you just can’t compare the average heart rate of the Sweet Spot versus Endurance workouts. What would make more sense is to compare a long Sweet Spot interval HR versus the same length Endurance interval.

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I am then inclined to look at Efficiency Factor that a site like intervals.icu gives you for each ride.

For sweet spot and threshold rides my efficiency factor is between 1.2 and 1.4. While my endurance workouts are around an efficiency of 1. Does that tell me anything?

I should have been clearer that I had a concern for your equipment. Sorry about that.

I will just add that for me it makes more sense to focus on your changes in heart rate during the workout and not the resulting average. During a 2 minute segment in the middle of a steady segment your heart rate goes twice from 155 to 165 and back down again. That indicates equipment issues to me.

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All good. The fluctuation you observed is probably me going from an aero position to sitting up for water or reaching for my phone. I get pretty fidgety on endurance rides.

Turn off “ERG Power Smoothing” in the Wahoo app so you can see the actual power.

^ this. I saw a high of 183 on the 2x20 @ 90%. Your max HR might be higher than 192, but hard to say.

I agree with everything above, but just to add, I wonder if it might be worth doing a cardiac drift test, I’ve found the helpful to determine how good my base is

RCA does tell you how to do one (ride for a hour @ 70% of FTP) in this video, there is another video that is more specific but I can’t find it right now

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