Finisher numbers in U.S. long-course triathlons are on a dramatic decline.
The graphic below illustrates the change in number of finishers at Ironman 70.3 races year-over-year (YoY) from 2016 to 2017 . The map includes Canada and Mexico to show that finisher numbers in U.S. neighboring countries are actually growing (e.g. Monterrey, Cozumel, and Canada). Meanwhile, U.S. Ironman 70.3 participation dropping with only a few exceptions (e.g. Santa Rosa, Boulder).
Across the board for Ironman 70.3 races, participation is down 9% in the U.S.
Why is this happening? WTC is a huge corporation that takes years to change course (on the other hand, grassroots triathlon races are relatively small operations that can adapt quickly). Here are two areas where Ironman can be beat:
- COST. The average Ironman household income is $247,000 / year. Triathlon can be an expensive sport, but Ironman charges a premium to register for its branded races. Race registration cost is an area where grassroots races can undercut Ironman and still be successful if they find ways to provide a high-quality race experience and bolster registrant numbers.
- ACCESSIBILITY. Long-course racing is a demanding endeavor. Ironman is spread too thin to offer comprehensive coaching that leads to successful completion of its races. Grassroots races, on the other hand, are uniquely poised to partner with volunteer organizations. Those volunteers provide high-quality coaching that leads directly to successful completion of the target race, leaving athletes happy and coming back year after year.
There’s more to the story though. Read on to find out what’s happening with grassroots triathlon, how Ironman is responding to the drop in triathlon participation, and why Ironman’s response is a big deal for the future of the sport.
Are Grassroots Triathlon Races In Decline Too?
Grassroots 70.3 races have also been hit by the decline in triathlete finisher numbers. Luckily these are smaller organizations, capable of adapting quickly to the changing market.
We have compiled data from U.S. non-Ironman branded 70.3 distance races YoY from 2016 and 2017. Among larger grassroots races with 200 – 700 finishers, numbers are down with only a few exceptions (e.g. REV3 Niagara Falls and Williamsburg, Door County Triathlon). Smaller grassroots 70.3 races with 1 – 200 finishers are also experiencing an overall decline, though there is considerable variability in the changes.
Across all grassroots 70.3 races, finisher numbers are down 14%.
Are All the 70.3 Athletes Graduating to the 140.6 Distance?
No. Ironman 140.6 races are not immune to the decline in participation. Of all North America Ironman 140.6 races to date in 2017, only Ironman Chattanooga has experienced robust growth, while five others have declined by 7 – 46%.
What Are the Consequences For The Future of Triathlon?
The bigger story here is that WTC is trying to compensate for the decrease in U.S. triathletes by adding races to their calendar. WTC Ironman has added 5 North America races in each of the last two years. By adding races, Ironman 70.3 participation has grown by over 6,000 finishers – despite the 9% average drop in YoY participation within existing races. That generates extra revenue for WTC, but extra problems for WTC and for triathlon as a sport.
- WTC can’t keep up with expansion. They are spreading resources thin to cover the growing number of races, so race quality suffers. This unfortunately has real world consequences like decreased course safety and inadequate aid stations.
- When new Ironman races come to town, they cut into the business that local grassroots races depend on. That’s what happened in Wisconsin when Ironman 70.3 Racine and Wisconsin were scheduled for June and July to take out Door County Triathlon’s business.
Those grassroots races and their directors are the ones that build a triathlon community. They’re the businesses that put on local sprint and olympic races throughout the year – those races where new athletes learn to love the sport. Without them, how will new triathletes learn the ropes of racing? That’s where our sport grows: from the ground up.
Without realizing it, Ironman is going to push itself out of business and take the sport of down triathlon with it. With any foresight, WTC would pump resources into growing grassroots triathlon businesses that put on sprint and olympic races. Those races are the training grounds for future Ironman athletes.
What Can You Do To Fight The Decline?
These dramatic declines in athlete finisher numbers are daunting, but grassroots triathlon races and athletes are capable of overcoming this challenge. California Triathlon suggests that grassroots race directors and athletes:
- Network with each other to share ideas that have resulted in healthy finisher numbers.
- Commit to making their races affordable, while maintaining race quality.
- Contribute to making triathlon accessible by partnering to provide high-quality coaching and mentoring.
- Promote grassroots races. When’s the last time USAT featured a grassroots race in a news article or press release? You’ve got to find other media outlets for your race.
- Choose to race affordable and accessible long-course triathlons.
Notes: This data is updated from a previous article and accurate through 10/16/17. We use median, rather than average, for U.S. and North America statistics to avoid issues with outliers. For example, IM70.3 Canada is an outlier with 171% growth, skewing the average by about 10%. We use finisher numbers for both Ironman and grassroots races as they are more reliable than registration numbers, which are often inaccurate or unavailable.
A pace line can function as a thing of beauty or create a complete mess of your day. Drafting allows everyone in the pace line to collectively go faster and save energy. Here are the top 10 focal points when participating in a pace line or drafting. I feel it is best with 4-8 cyclists in a pod.
- COMMUNICATE. The success of the pace line depends on everyone being communicative and predictable. Calling out road hazards well in advance allows the entire team to plan and adjust. If you see unsafe or dangerous behavior call it out. Make sure that everyone in the pace line understands the rules.
- BE PREDICTABLE. No sudden accelerations or decelerations and ride a straight line avoiding and zig zag motions. You may zig and clip the wheel in front or in back of you.
- AVOID BRAKING. The best draft happens when wheels are separated by 1-3’. If someone jams on the brakes it is very likely that the cyclist behind them will collide with that wheel possibly creating a chain reaction down the line. If you have to slow down increase your drag by creating a large frontal profile.
- YOU’RE FINALLY IN FRONT. When you take a turn at the front do not “accordion” the pace line by accelerating. Keep a constant pace. It is considered quite rude to enjoy the draft of the person in the front and reward them with a sprint when they are at their most tired. Signal [flick your right elbow] when you are done and move to the left allowing the pack to gradually ride past. Gradually slide to the back.
- DON’T BE A HERO. If you are one of the weaker cyclists in the group make it a short 15-30 second duration. Alternatively, you can stay at the back as long as you let the others know what you are doing and create a gap for riders coming to the rear after they take a pull.
- TRIATHLETES STAY OUT OF AERO. Unless you are at the 1st position – in front – stay out of aero bars. If you want to push your own air than get out of the pace line. 2x period.
- “Spinny McFreewheel. Spin your crank. There is nothing more disconcerting than to hear the sound of a bike freewheeling. Soft pedal your crank at all times. You aren’t necessarily applying power to the wheel but you are keeping the rear wheel from freewheeling. Don’t be a “Spinny McFreewheel”.
- FUEL AT THE BACK OF THE PACE LINE. That is the safest place to hydrate and get your calories.
- KEEP LOOKING FORWARD. You should always be looking the same direction as your bike is moving.
- WORK AS A TEAM. If someone goes off the front do not chase. Let them ride ahead of the group a hundred yards pushing their own air while as you are working as a team. About 10 minutes later you can ride by and their only chance of making it back with the group is to grab the last wheel. All athletes are motivated differently.
USA Triathlon Board of Directors Voting ends Oct. 15, 2016. Patty Peoples-Resh, USAT BOD Candidate for the Pacific Region, reached out to us and was kind enough to answer several triathlon related questions that impact California Triathlon athletes. Below are the questions and her unedited answers.
California Triathlon: Race directors are required to submit accident reports within 15 days post-race. Those reports are currently not available to USAT’s membership. Would you work to make this information publicly available so that athletes can make better decisions when choosing races?
Patty: There is probably a privacy issue with having names of accident victims publicized, especially if a suit is filed for whatever reason. However, perhaps there could be a safety rating scale that the USAT members can review for races. For instance - On a scale of 1-5 with 5 being great and 1 being poor, a race would receive a rating of 1 on safety if there was a fatality at their race due to a car accident or a rating of 5 if no accidents and a rating of 2 with non-fatal accidents, etc. Perhaps there could be an end of the year accident report for USAT Sanctioned Races and list accidents by type and the number of incidents per type at each race - no names would need to be involved. Yes, I do agree that the more information potential participants have on the safety and quality of a race, the better. I would do my best to help ensure that USAT Sanctioned Races meet a certain consistent level of quality and safety.
California Triathlon: The 1-day race fee is a flat $15.00 for adults. We produce Trick or Tri which has a sprint distance early bird fee of $50.00. The USAT one-day fee is a 30% increase. For a $750 race that would only be a 2% increase. Would you advocate making the USAT one-day fee a percentage of the registration versus a flat fee that disproportionately impacts short course and beginner races.
Patty: It would primarily depend on how the one-day license fee is applied by USAT. If there is a fixed cost per participant needed toward race coverage insurance then a percentage of the race fee might not work. For instance, using your example of 2% for your early bird fee of $50, the one-day license would cost only $1. I don’t think that would cover the cost of insurance. Plus, race directors often offer a variety of race entry fees throughout the year, which would change the one-day license fee just as often and could easily confuse the registrant and then the race director would constantly be put in the position to explain why the one-day license fee is different for different registrants. Having done many USAT SW Region Membership Rallies at events over the past several years, I can tell you that the one-day license fee isn’t deterring people from entering. If they say it is, it’s usually just an excuse for not entering, period. Most people that are doing the Ironman distances and paying those huge fees ($750+) are usually USAT Members, unless they have been doing primarily unsanctioned races and thus, never saw the need to become USAT Members. Personally, I look at the overall cost of a race. If I wasn’t a USAT Member and was considering a race to enter I would choose the one that cost the least. If I had to choose between a $50 sprint + $15 one day license or a $75 standard + $15 one day license, I would choose the sprint for a total of $65 vs. $90. Participants usually don’t think in terms of percentage, but rather the total cost.
California Triathlon: Having USAT National events in many different venues is difficult and expensive to attend for the athletes and difficult and expensive to support for teams/clubs. How do you feel about a week long format similar to what was done in Canada this year?
Patty: I like the Festival format for National Events. I believe the ITU Multi-Sport World Festival was a huge success and would be a good template to apply for our USAT National Championships. It would also keep the National Championships consistent in terms of time of year, most likely during June and July, when school is out.
A final note from Patty: If elected to represent the Pacific Region (CA/NV/WA/OR/HI/AK) on the USAT BOD, I would be very proactive in helping ALL members of USAT (age-groupers, race directors, coaches, youth, masters….). Each group is an important piece in the USAT organization and thus, need to have their voices heard and needs met! I welcome the opportunity to represent our Region and let our needs/voices be heard at the National Level. Having not taken up sports on a regular basis until my late 20’s and self-coaching myself, I personally know the challenges of trying to reach one’s potential. As a 30 year veteran of teaching fitness as the college level and seeing them excel and meet their goals, I would like to use my years of knowledge and experiences (high and lows) to help our Region and USAT in general. Thank you!
2017 SEASON WRAPPING UP. Most of us have a precious, few more weeks before we shut it down for the 2017 season. How did your season go? Are there some unaccomplished goals for 2018 or beyond in the back of your mind? Typically an athlete’s 1 year goals are overly optimistic but their 5 year goals are conservative. I find it is best to look at a 3 year goal and methodically stack building block upon building block to make that happen.
- Are you a poor swimmer? Have you thought about joining a master’s swim team and being swim focused for 2018? Of course you are going to get your butt kicked but the work you do next year will payoff throughout the rest of your triathlon career.
- Are you a poor cyclist? Have you thought about joining the local cycling team and being bike focused for 2018? My experience is that athletes take 2 full years to develop into a good cyclist.
- Are you a poor runner? Have you thought about attending weekly track workouts to improve your form, speed and power? Just because you have never been a quick runner doesn’t mean you can’t be. A quick ramp up in running distance or intensity can make you prone to injury so make sure you are getting the right type of information ahead of time.
- How is your core strength and power? I have worked with a number of athletes who took 6-12 weeks off and focused on core strength. Or maybe flexibility is something that you need to improve. The winter is a great time to start that regimen and then extend it into 2018 and beyond.
The biggest question to ask is how are you doing from a mental state? Did you enjoy 2017? Did you get close to burning out? When you look at 2018 and beyond is it something that you look forward to or dread? A healthy percentage of us set unrealistic goals, don’t achieve them and then spend the offseason beating ourselves up. “Next year I am going to…” is a common refrain right now. Think about the long term and then and only then start building your 2018 plan.
2017 INTERBIKE RECAP
“Once a year the bicycle industry gathers together to meet and talk about business. We need you to attend Interbike 2017 and play a role in shaping the future of the bicycle industry.”
I attended 2017 Interbike this week in Las Vegas. If that was the future of the bicycle industry it will be Cervelo and e-bikes or electronic bikes and not much more. With the popularity of ebikes could the future of triathlon be swim, steer and run?
BIKE BRANDS. Cervelo was the only major bike brand that I saw at the show. There was no P6 announcement so all the Cervelo fanboys are still stuck with the $15,000 P5. Brands not at the show:
So what was at the show?
EBIKES & FAT TIRE BIKES. There were dozens of ebikes, or electric bikes, and fat tire bikes. Sometimes there were fat tire ebikes. There were probably 20x more ebikes than the traditional road or triathlon bikes. My favorite was Rambo and make sure you get the optional Aluminum Bike/Hand Cart when you need to haul back your trophy post hunt.
APPAREL. There was no shortage of apparel companies at this show.
NUTRITION. Ditto on nutrition. Lots of nutrition companies. It was possible to have a calorie positive event at Interbike. Just make sure you are not that guy putting their hand in the sample containers.
CYCLOCROSS. There was a professional cyclocross event on Wednesday night a few miles from the strip. The layout of the circuit allowed everyone to have visual on the cyclists the entire time. It is definitely a spectator friendly sport. Think cycling meets miniature golf obstacles except these obstacles weren’t miniature. Highly recommended!
SUMMARY: I was glad to meet with some of California Triathlon’s existing partners like Voler and HUUB and had appointments with some new potential partners as well. I asked a lot of vendors, sales reps and friends their opinion of Interbike. “Disaster”. “Worse than last year.” “A complete waste of money.” Those bike companies that didn’t show up must have known that this was a low ROI type of event. The 2018 event is moving to Reno and that will likely impact it even more.
I recently had someone ask me “How can I run faster?” I have found that the best way to get faster is to do a combination of speed work and tempo runs during the week. If you are just building up your running base or getting back into running after some time off or an injury, I recommend starting out with either a speed workout OR a tempo run each week.
After about 4-6 weeks of working on your base, then you can add a speed workout and a tempo run to your weekly schedule. (So, if you are just starting to build speed - in my example below - you could alternate each week with a Speed Workout OR a Tempo Workout, then after building up your base - you can restart the plan and include BOTH a Speed Workout AND a Tempo Run each week). I want to emphasize that it is important that you don’t increase your overall running mileage by more the 10% each week - this will help to prevent injury.
For your speed work, you can do a combination of 200, 400, or 800 meter repeats with 200 to 400 meters of walking or jogging in between each set. The number of repeats can vary and build each week.
For your tempo work, you can start out with 1 mile at a certain pace and build each week increasing the number of miles that you run at a tempo pace. The tempo pace can be at a 5 or 10k pace or half-marathon/marathon pace depending on your upcoming race or goals. A tempo pace can also be a pace slightly faster than your normal run pace if you are just building your run base. These tempo paces should not be very comfortable as you start out the plan, but as you build your running fitness you will notice the tempo paces become a little easier to maintain. (Doing a tempo run in a training plan gives you a good idea of how it will feel during a race - you can practice some mental toughness during training that will help you on race day!)
You do not need a track to perform these workouts, in fact it’s a nice challenge if you can find a route with a few rolling hills…. because no race course is ever perfectly flat, right? If you do not want to mess with calculating a certain distance, or maybe you don’t have a watch that can measure distance yet - then run for a certain number of minutes - for example 1 min sprint, 1 min easy and repeat this 5 times during a workout. You can increase the number of sprinting minutes and recovery minutes each week.
I’ve included a sample build set below. I like to do my speed workouts on Tuesday and my Tempo workouts on Thursday - this also aligns with the Cal Tri FREE 70.3 race plan. https://californiatriathlon.org/coaching/training-plans/ (Please note that this example does not include any swim or bike sets or additional recovery runs that an athlete might do during the week)
Week 1 = Speed Workout - half mile warm up, 2×200 sprint with 200 jog/walk, 1×400 sprint with 200 jog/walk, half mile cool down
Tempo Workout - 1 mile warm-up jog, 1 mile at 10k Race Pace, 1 mile cool down
Week 2 = Speed Workout - half mile warm up, 4×200 sprint with 200 jog/walk, 2×400 sprint with 200 jog/walk, half mile cool down
Tempo Workout - 1 mile warm up jog, 2 miles at 10K Race Pace, 1 mile cool down
Week 3 = Speed Workout - half mile warm up, 4×400 sprint with 400 jog/walk, 1×800 sprint with 400 jog/walk, half mile cool down
Tempo Workout - 1 mile warm up jog, 3 miles at 10K Race Pace, 1 mile cool down
Week 4 = Speed Workout - half mile warm up, 6×400 sprint with 400 jog/walk, 2×800 sprint with 400 jog/walk, half mile cool down
Tempo Workout - 1 mile warm up jog, 4 miles at 10K Race Pace, 1 mile cool down
Week 5 = Speed Workout - half mile warm up, 8×400 sprint with 400 jog/walk, 2×800 sprint with 400 jog/walk, half mile cool down
Tempo Workout - 1 mile warm up jog, 5 miles at 10K Race Pace, 1 mile cool down
The combinations and possibilities are endless when it comes to bringing variety to building your speed — did I tell you how much I LOVE running?….. I could really talk about running ALL day!
Here are some quick but intense workout ideas for swim, bike, and run:
Only have 1 Hour to Bike?
Here’s a workout that I found on triathlete.com - it’s an ITU based workout that gives you a wide variety of zones in a 1 hour bike session.
10 minutes building Zone 1 to Zone 2
1 minute Zone 3
1 minute Zone 4
1 minute Zone 5
2 minutes Zone 2
2 x 15 minutes of alternating 40 seconds in Zone 5-6 with 20 Seconds in Zone 1
5 minutes between sets in Zone 1
10 minutes in Zone 1-2
Only have 30-60 minutes to Run?
I’ve been doing a series of 1 minute pick ups during my training lately and I really like the variability in the workout instead of just going out at one pace for a set amount of time. This is a good way to build up your speed and it’s great for those who don’t have access to a track.
5-15 min warm up jog
5-15 x (1 min best average pace, 1 minute recovery jog)
5-15′ cool down jog or challenge yourself to finish in a low zone 3 pace and walk for a few minutes after completing the workout to cool down
Only have 30 minutes to Swim?
Swim Ladder 100, 200, 300, 200, 100
Repeat the ladder as many times as you can in 25 minutes
This note is to pinpoint the many ways that Trick or Tri is the exception and not the norm when it comes to a triathlon and running event. But before that let me give you a quick race update. Registration is up 37.5% from last year thanks to the addition of the 70.3 mile option and increased awareness in SoCal generated by our returning athletes. Due to the support of our athletes Trick or Tri is able to donate 100% of the entries that City of Hope - Hope Sweat & Cures needs to create awareness, increase engagement and raise funds to fight cancer and diabetes.
CLOSED BIKE COURSE. Grab a large cup of coffee and then Google “triathlon car crash“. At Trick or Tri we have a closed bike course on and no chance of bike/vehicle collisions. A 2-foot cone isn’t much protection from a 2,000 pound vehicle. You wouldn’t put a playground near a construction site and we aren’t putting our athletes next to traffic going 60 mph. Did I mention that most of the race is on the 25.5′ wide Santa Fe Dam which is wider than 2 lanes of U.S. interstate highway? We have been fortunate to have 0 accidents in the 1st two years of the race. You will find that Trick or Tri is the exception and not the norm when it comes to course layout and athlete safety.
AMENITIES. TBLOCKS racking, Miller Coors Beer Garden, post-race massage courtesy of Choy Chiropractic, $139/night Hilton Garden hotel rate, free professional photos, loaded SWAG bag, technical shirt with original artwork, custom medal, convenient parking, face painting and costume contest are just some of our amenities. New in 2017 is childcare for mom and dad. You will find that Trick or Tri is the exception and not the rule when it comes to amenities.
PRICING - Early bird pricing is Sprint - $50, Olympic $75 and Half $100. Relays are the same price as individual entries. Olympic Relay teams get 3 bibs, 3 medals, 3 shirts and 6 beers [21 & over] for $75. Half Relay teams get the same for $100. Packet pickup is either Friday afternoon or Saturday morning at no additional cost. For 2018 athletes can use GRAND PRIX Dollars which is another 17% of savings. Finally, teams of 10 or more will receive a rebate check of 10% of the value of the team’s total online race registrations. Optionally, those funds can be donated to Hope, Sweat & Cures in the team’s name. You will find that Trick or Tri is the exception and not the norm when it comes to pricing.
VOLUNTEERS. I doubt you know Lincoln & Annie Bleavens but they are as vital part in the success of 2017 Trick or Tri as the 2 dozen lifeguards or timing company. Lincoln and Annie are responsible for Run Aid Station #1 on the west side of the lake. Tim Hughes is their Run Course Captain. He has their back if they need anything. We are over 2 months away from the race and already have many of our volunteers assigned and placed. That is the level of attention and detail we strive for to support our Trick or Tri athletes. And we take care of our volunteers. Each is invited to a Miller Coors Volunteers Appreciation Dinner a couple weeks before the race and every volunteer will earn a free race entry to Trick or Tri or a partner race in 2018. You will find that Trick or Tri is the exception and not the norm when it comes to volunteers.
COACHED TRAINING. Our monthly coached training sessions and open water swim clinics go from May to October. This year’s guest coaches have included 3x World Champion Lesley Paterson, Olympic Silver Medalist Clay Evans and 5K/10K US Master’s Record Holder Pete Magill. The next two trainings are Sep 2 and Oct 21. For our 1st time triathletes, we utilize California Triathlon’s SPRINT 90 Day Program to provide free coaching and mentoring. Finally, on October 21, I am hosting an 8 hour skills camp for those athletes looking to take their triathlon game up a notch. The cost is $25 and registrants get a $25 credit to the Cal Tri kit store. You will find that Trick or Tri is the exception and not the norm when it comes to coached training.
As a busy mom with 4 kids and double-digit training hours each week - I want to give you a few ways that I keep myself organized and scheduled. I will first state that it’s NOT always perfect and things don’t always go as planned but I feel like having a system to stay organized and planning my week helps me to “feel” more balanced and prepared.
On Sunday, I sit down with my family calendar and plan out WHEN I’m going to get my workouts done and WHAT other obligations that I have for the week. I have a bike trainer in my garage and don’t have any other option but to run outside so those 2 things are always set for me… and this often means running in the early hours of the morning. (But that first break of dawn is my favorite time of the day!!!) If I can sneak in a bike ride during the day outside, that’s a bonus for me! I check my local pool schedules ahead of time and note any pool closures and pool opening times. Nothing worse than getting to the pool to find that the local swim team has a meet!
Then I plan the times that I will do my workouts and for me this is primarily around my kid’s schedules and teaching during the school year. I schedule most of my workouts in the early morning but HOW early depends on the duration of the workout or if it’s a double session.
In addition to planning my workouts, I will mostly plan the meals for the week and this includes snacks and recovery fuel. That way I’m not standing at the fridge looking for something to eat when I’m done with a workout. I also keep a snack bin in the fridge with some quick grab-and-go type snacks. For example: apple slices, cheese sticks, snack bag of seasonal fruit, snack bag of nuts, or hard boiled eggs.
If I have a very early session, then I will usually fill my water bottles and workout fuel and put them in the fridge at night. That gives me an extra 5 minutes of sleep in the morning! If I have a swim workout in the morning, I will write the workout on a post-it note and stick it in a ziplock bag to take with me on deck. I will also fill a water bottle and put any paddles, pull buoy, or kick board that I need right in my swim bag so I don’t have to search for them in the dark in the morning.
All of these little things really add up for me and help me to stay organized when my training load increases and my life gets busy. If you’re not sure where to start - start with one of these items I suggested above and see how it works for you.
I also keep a training journal each week of my training that needs to be done and also my results from each session. I like to look back on a previous session to see how I did - it gives me an idea of how I’m improving over the course of a training cycle. I also add my strength sessions into my training log for the week so I can allow time for these to get done. I have found that strength and rest is just as important as the training itself when it comes to preventing injuries and becoming a stronger athlete.
What tips do you have for organizing and balancing your training in your life? Put your suggestions on our Cal Tri Forum. https://californiatriathlon.org/
Setting Heart Rate Training Zones
The easiest way to calculate your Maximum Heart Rate is a simple paper-and-pencil calculation. Subtract your age from 220. The result is an age-predicted maximum beats per minute.
Example: 20 year old athlete
Maximum Heart Rate (MHR) 220 - 20 = 200
Please note: This method does not take into account your fitness level or inherited genes, which can make your true maximum heart rate 10 to 20 beats per minute higher or lower than the age-predicted number. This is the most basic method to use and it’s a good place to start to get your training zones established. You can also do a 30 minute run test or 30 minute bike test and measure your actual heart rate numbers during the test to establish your training zones (You can email me for more details on this method if you would like to do these tests)
It is also worth noting that your bike and run heart rate MHR number will slightly vary. There can be a 5-10% difference in your bike and run MHR. But for a basic establishment of zones - one range of numbers will work.
Now you’ll need that pencil, paper, and calculator again to calculate your training zones:
With my example: of the 20 year old athlete - here’s the training zone ranges
Zone 1 - 60-65% of MHR = 120-130
Zone 2 - 65-75% of MHR = 130-150
Zone 3 - 75-82% of MHR = 150-164
Zone 4 - 82-89% of MHR = 164-178
Zone 5 - 89-94% of MHR = 178-190
Zone 6 - 94-100% of MHR = 190-200
If you don’t have a Heart Rate Monitor - it’s no problem, you can train on RPE or Rate of Perceived Exertion. This chart (taken from ilovebicycling.com) below describes the zones and efforts.