Mental Block with using HRM

Anyone else struggle with artificially elevated HR when using a HRM, due to being mentally aware of the sensor? I did my annual attempt at using one outdoors today and felt like I tended to get way more adrenaline/heart rate spikes than usual (without it), especially on climbs or leaving stop signs/lights. I haven’t really ever trained with HR, so I’m not sure if I was in the right HR zones for any given power level, but my efficiency seems to have been poor. (Is HR efficiency useful for rides that aren’t strictly Z2?). Here’s my stat line from

I’ve been doing 6 45-60min rides a week, mostly Z2 and some limited tempo/SS since December as I’ve been slowly returning to health after a knee injury at the end of last season. Do these numbers seem reasonable or too high? Has mental awareness of your HRM caused you issues? Is that just something that gets better as you get used to riding with it?

You definitely get used to it. I never even feel mine anymore. But without knowing your normal HR zones, I’d say a 135 avg isn’t way too high for a 75% ride. Though it maybe be high for you. again it’s impossible to say without any prior data.

A max HR of 193 does seem pretty high for a ride with stats like that. Though it could just be a spike in the data. Sometimes a flapping jersey zipper on a HR monitor can cause false readings.

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Hmm ok. That’s good to hear. Maybe I should just stay the course and keep riding with it for a bit then.
As far as the 193, I did crush it up a hill for about 30s. Had to impress the wife, of course.
I do feel more taxed (specifically, like, my heart feels tired? Not sure how to describe the sensation) than I should have from that ride, but maybe if I just stick with it and get used to it, that won’t continue to be the case.

If you rarely use a HRM, how do you know your HR behavior was unusual? The only way to know is to consistently use one. The sensation of the HR strap being noticeable quickly goes away.

Fair. I just mean the sensation of adrenaline rush as I approach a climb or other situation requiring an increase in power I guess.

This is 2020. HR is a valuable metric but just not for guiding intensity.

If you are finding anxiety about your HR is adding to the problem, perhaps set up your head unit so that HR field is not displayed. You can still collect and analyze the data later.


This is good advice. I train with my hr data showing. I know it limits my efforts as I catch myself looking down and back off on intensity, so I should just turn it off, actually I will now that I think about it :grinning:.
I do not show the hr data field on my race profile that I have set up on my garmin, I used to get serious anxiety at the start line of a race when I first started, and I’d look down and my hr would be sky high, once I got out to more races and gained confidence and hid that data field, it has been a non issue.

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If it makes you anxious, turn HR off on your headunit. Ride with it, but forget about it. After 4-6 weeks, start looking at the data after your ride.

Tbh I think a lot of people overcomplicate this. If you ride a bit with a HRM, you’ll find out which HR corresponds to threshold, which is easy, when it is starting to get hard. Anything much over threshold is likely of little value in practically, because of HR lag. HR is much more useful for longer steady efforts. The learn your body a bit, HR will go up when its hot, and might be down when you’re tired.

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for what it’s worth, i experience the same thing when i pay attention to my heart rate. If i’m watching it vs. completely distracted (e.g. listening to a podcast on teh trainer) it’ll be 5 to 10 beats higher. SImilarly, if I start visualizing or thinking about a race start, my HR jumps up.


Normally you’d think a lower relative HR means you’re fresh. That’s true a lot of the time.

However, I’ve had great rides where my HR was relatively high, and poor rides when my HR was relatively low.

So generally, I don’t think HR is particularly meaningful as an isolated metric, thus I don’t let it bother me during the ride. Post-ride, it can still be useful data that you’ll be glad you have.

yeah there’s caveats. Sometimes being tired can depress your HR (depending on what “part” of you is tired), and being fresh can mean a fulsome HR response (i.e., higehr HR)

erm, there is 0 evidence that your mental state had any impact on your HR, that’s just your assumption that has no basis whatsoever. Just feeling “anxious” doesn’t mean it will impact your HR in a certain, predictable way, especially if there is already some stronger strain in the background like physical activity.
So yea, just keep using HRM and after a while you will have better data to make conclusions how your body reacts at certain situations.
have fun!

Glad to hear others have had similar experiences, it’s not just me.

I rode today without HR on my head unit display and I felt a lot calmer. My heart rate data was “worse”, but it was pretty hot today, at least compared to where my heat conditioning is at this point. I think I’ll keep going with it, it does feel like I’ll get used to it soon.

Only use mine when riding but only look at the data after the fact when riding outside. TR is is on the screen but usually ignore it.

When running I have stopped wearing it all together. Since I have gone by feel vs what it says I have been able to push myself more than I think I could.