As an extension of the side-work I do (websites) I was reading a triathlete's blog. This is someone I don't know, who used to work with someone I do know.
I'll start out by saying that for 99% of us, this whole multi-sport thing is nothing more than a hobby. So when you start looking at our opinions, or what we like or dislike, who cares, right ? If you're happy, then that's it really, right ? I mean, if you say 'I think drafting should be legal in USAT races' I'm going to argue with you, but otherwise, hey, whatever makes you happy makes you happy.
This athlete was saying that it's no secret that she doesn't like training with a heart-rate monitor. She's right, because it's on her blog. In her opinion, training with heart rate holds her back.
I thought that was interesting.
I see the heart rate monitor as a tool. I don't use it for all my workouts, but I use it frequently. If coach tells me to run 45 minutes in A or spin easy for 90 minutes, I certainly don't need the HRM for that. If I'm doing a run with short bursts at race pace, I probably don't need the heart rate monitor. It can provide interesting data, but I use speed and effort to determine if I'm reaching race pace (or I do the workout on a treadmill, where I can guarantee it).
This athlete was talking about using power on the bike. It would be cool to be able to afford and have the time to adjust to working with a power tap. That's probably not going to happen for me. I actually find the HRM extremely useful on the bike, because unlike on the run, in workouts at least, I often have trouble elevating my heart rate. Today was an example.
I was supposed to ride in low B for an hour. That was no problem, although I was under 120 a lot, which technically isn't B, it's upper A. But then it was 12 X 1 minute in C with 2 minutes recovery. The highest my heartrate ever got was 152 on one effort that included a climb, other than that I was barely reaching 145. What does that tell me ? I still need to work on what it means and feels like to ride in C.
I guess it comes back to how you use the tools. I use heart rate to complete my workouts the way my coach tells me to. But if I really don't want to be passed by a scooter when I'm supposed to be riding in low B, I let myself go for a few minutes (and then yes, I'm in C). On the run, if I've got a chance to make a catch, or I spend part of my two hour run doing a loop with someone else, maybe the heart rate takes a back seat.
That's not to say I just shove it aside. I think if you've got two hours in low B, you better be in low B 1:45 of that. Eric says that heart rate is a guide, and don't sweat it.
I don't know, I think all the tools you can use, all the data you can gather, it's all got its uses. That said, if you're happy, you're happy, and if you're not, you're not.
But to me, heart rate is a pretty time-tested and valuable training tool.