Unfortunately a lot of endurance athletes train with a ‘no pain no gain’ mentality – and I was definitely guilty of training with that mentality until I started working with my coach Eddie Fletcher, the Lead Sports Scientist with Wattbike.
Ultimately we all want to get faster. In order to sustain higher levels of power for longer, we need to make the oxygen transport system as effective as possible. Our aerobic capacity therefore plays a major role in improving performance when it comes to training and racing.
If you do too much training above 80% of max heart rate, you might have a strong top end, however, at the cost of your aerobic base and endurance. This is the foundation on which you can then build sustained power in order to go faster.
Not only does too much high intensity make you slower, increased fatigue will lead to inconsistent training performances and a subsequent loss of fitness. You are also putting yourself at greater risk of injury.
What to do about It?
To improve your aerobic efficiency and base, the first thing you need to do is have heart rate zones set up so you can train to heart rate. For any aerobic work, heart rate should dictate your pace as we are targeting a physiological response.
It is only for sustained power efforts when I would recommend using power as a guide and heart rate to measure your response.
If you’d like any further advice, feel free to contact me!