Heart rate upwind vs downwind

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4 months 1 day ago #39739 by Epicpaddler
Hi all,

Finally got a decent downwinder where I live yesterday. Unfortunately, it's a pay to play situation where I have to paddle into the wind for however long I want to downwind. I decided to do my usual 10K course of 3 miles out into the open bay and 3 miles back. The easterly breeze was kicking up 2-3' chop with the occasional 4' ground swell tossed in.

I was really surprised to check the stats on my Garmin after the paddle that my heart rate was much higher on the downwind leg. On the paddle out I felt like I was pedaling my mountain bike uphill and was barely able to maintain 5 mph.

On the downwind leg the surfing was brilliant with speeds over 9mph. My heartrate was in the 160's which is high for me. The only thing I could think of was the bursts of speed I needed to catch the next runner. Once I was on the wave I usually just enjoyed the ride with the occasional brace stroke.

Anyone else notice this?

On a side note, the high chord DK rudder was amazing. First chance I've had to really put it to the test.

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4 months 21 hours ago - 4 months 21 hours ago #39740 by balance_fit
Greetings
What you've noticed regarding heart rate in downwind runs is a noticeable characteristic of my runs too. Similar to you, I play similar dues to acquire the rights to run downwind. Very rarely can I enjoy the benefits of having my ski and me being taken upwind.
Most probably, heart rate during downwind runs reflects the demands on the body due to sprinting to catch runs, balancing, maybe even a lack of the cooling effect of wind.
On upwind sections, I paddle at steady pace, and feel much more stable, while enjoying the wind on my face. My usual conditions range from 15-20 knots.
Looking forward to read other paddler's opinion on this. Maybe paddling upwind isn't so physically demanding after all. Just a slow warmup?

I've attached the GPS speed and heart rate graph for a recent up and downwind session. Went twice into the wind for a couple of kilometers. The heart rate on the first up and downwind run is quite even, but the increase in heart rate is noticeable on the second downwind run, on which I felt tired.

Regards
JD

Simple, not easy.
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Last edit: 4 months 21 hours ago by balance_fit. Reason: Wanted to add a picture

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3 months 3 weeks ago - 3 months 3 weeks ago #39746 by Arcturus
A few questions:

1. Are you using a chest-mounted HRM or a wrist-based one in a GPS watch? I recently got a Garmin Fenix, and Garmin takes pains to state that the bio metrics are not as accurate as if using a chest unit or other medical-quality devices.

2. So far I’ve gotten some strange results when viewing HR numbers after paddling. Usually the average HR is what I would have expected, based on comparing physical feeling when hiking or cycling at similar effort levels. But at least twice, the watch seems to have either stopped recording or grossly erred, giving me average HR of only about 100, which couldn’t have been the case. Check out the Garmin forums for other users’ questions about all kinds of anomalies. (Not to pick on Garmin or the device, which I am finding very useful in many ways.) And yes, “average” by itself is not that useful except for time trial kinds of exercise.

3. Regarding on-off kinds of efforts, I have not watched the watch while paddling to check effects of effort on HR, but I have done so while hiking and cycling. There seems to be a delay, either in GPS comm, or in the heart’s response to big changes, or maybe some of both. For example, when climbing a hill, HR takes a little time before it reflects the extra exertion. And then it actually stays high for a little bit before going down, even though I already am descending. In the case of cycling, this happens even if I coast for a few seconds. THEN the HR goes down. So the lag occurs both with increased and decreased level of effort. It’s not a long lag, but it exists.

Next time, I might change the watch’s Activity face to show only the HR color circle with HR displayed in one big field. Editing the display fields shown to have just the momentary HR and speed is another possibility, I think.
Last edit: 3 months 3 weeks ago by Arcturus.

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3 months 3 weeks ago #39747 by Epicpaddler
Yes to the HR chest strap. I use a Garmin fenix 5 watch, but it’s not reliable as a heart rate monitor when paddling. The chest HR monitor is way more accurate when syncing with the watch.

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3 months 3 weeks ago #39748 by tve
Replied by tve on topic Heart rate upwind vs downwind
I've always had higher heart rate downwind than upwind. Especially lately I have to really kill myself going upwind to reach >90% of max HR. I believe the higher DW HR is due to a couple of factors: excitement, higher state of alertness (I'm 100% engaged trying to figure out waves, while I basically zone off upwind), higher cadence, higher peak power. The rest periods while sliding down a wave are not sufficient to compensate for all this...
I did do a DW the other day with trivial to surf waves and I did some "Boyan imitation practice" and my HR was super low, so it really depends on the type of DW!
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3 months 3 weeks ago #39750 by mrcharly
I find downwind more exhausting - it is the sprinting to catch bumps.

I think you have to be really strong to be able to push heartrate as much when going upwind.

Going upwind is like riding uphill on a high bike gear. Takes all your strength to just turn it over, you aren't pumping away.
The contrast with a low gear is that you can spin it - less strain on muscles, more on heart.
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3 months 3 weeks ago #39751 by balance_fit

I did do a DW the other day with trivial to surf waves and I did some "Boyan imitation practice" and my HR was super low, so it really depends on the type of DW!

Agreed the!

Wind strength downwind, and sea conditions matter a lot as well. Strong wind in the correct direction, organized seas and good temperature.

Downwind requires a lot of conditioning, in my opinion, as well as navigation and surfing skills. It's never a free ride!

JD

Simple, not easy.

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3 months 3 weeks ago #39752 by balance_fit

Going upwind is like riding uphill on a high bike gear. Takes all your strength to just turn it over, you aren't pumping away.
The contrast with a low gear is that you can spin it - less strain on muscles, more on heart.

Have you tried shortening the paddle shaft a little bit while going upwind?

I've found that this helps me "spin" the gear a bit faster. It's a subtle thing, since my upwind leg involves going over wind swell and managing rebound waves, and dealing with these takes my attention from stroke rate.

JD

Simple, not easy.

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3 months 3 weeks ago #39753 by mrcharly
Ah, sadly I can't.

I agree with your suggestion.

Bought my paddle for K1 marathon and picked 210-220 length. Found that 212 was right for me.

Wish I'd bought 205-215 now.
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3 months 3 weeks ago #39757 by manta
Replied by manta on topic Heart rate upwind vs downwind


On the downwind leg the surfing was brilliant with speeds over 9mph. My heartrate was in the 160's which is high for me. The only thing I could think of was the bursts of speed I needed to catch the next runner. Once I was on the wave I usually just enjoyed the ride with the occasional brace stroke.
Anyone else notice this?
On a side note, the high chord DK rudder was amazing. First chance I've had to really put it to the test.

Downwind paddling is essentially a HIIT workout. High intensity bursts followed by a brief rest, only to do it again. The other thing that does play a role in a DW is the level of adrenalin. It is an adrenalin inducing activity and because that accesses the fight or flight limbic system, there is an associated increase in HR.

The upwind leg is usually a slog with a high, but constant HR depending on effort. However, once that bow turns DW and fun begins, the HR can shoot up.

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3 months 3 weeks ago #39758 by Impala
Unless you are in a DW race, I'd claim that high heart rate in DW is an amateur phenomenon (and as such is highly visible on my HR recordings). Amateur in the sense that we are doing DW just occasionally and therefore have not yet managed to approach it in a more relaxed way. I agree that it is mainly the adrenaline and less the real physical effort that pushes HR into the max zone. Still, the HIIT aspect is also true. But we occasional DWs should not forget that we are probably doing bad DW technique if is feels too HIIT-ish, pushing too hard, trying to get impossible huge waves instead of methodically increasing base speed, etc. From that perspective it makes a lot of sense to consciously try to calm your HR down during your DW ... it will to a high likelyhood improve and economize your technique.
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3 months 3 weeks ago #39764 by MMaister
I think it also depends a lot on the type of DW. Do you have long, relaxed runs, or short, chaotic waves? In the former one you can barely relax but constantly work to stay in the game.

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3 months 3 weeks ago #39768 by balance_fit
Too many great responses above!

Maybe we can concentrate on our breathing to release a bit of tension and bring heart rate down.

I do it, sometimes, and other times, I look at my downwind mantra, on a sticker just in front of my visual field, which reads "This Is The Way".

Interestingly, this has a noticeable calming effect.

JD

Simple, not easy.
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3 months 3 weeks ago #39774 by mrcharly

I think it also depends a lot on the type of DW. Do you have long, relaxed runs, or short, chaotic waves? In the former one you can barely relax but constantly work to stay in the game.

Did you mean the other way around?

I find it is short chaotic waves that push my heart rate up.

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3 months 2 weeks ago #39811 by MMaister

I think it also depends a lot on the type of DW. Do you have long, relaxed runs, or short, chaotic waves? In the former one you can barely relax but constantly work to stay in the game.
Did you mean the other way around?
I find it is short chaotic waves that push my heart rate up.

Yes, sorry for the confusion. I meant that DW with short, messy waves push the pulse much higher.:)

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3 months 2 weeks ago #39815 by [email protected]
(As a lover of downwind paddling, it's so cool to see the interest sparked by this topic.)

A couple of points. I've paddled a half a dozen times in the back of a double with Oscar Chalupsky - as you would expect, the times on our Miller's Run were very quick, but my average HR, with Oscar, was very low. In fact the last time we paddled together, we had an awesome time, but my average HR was in the 120s. Crazy. He's the master of putting in 5-6 extremely strong strokes to get onto a run, and then milking it for the longest time. If he doesn't think a wave is optimal, he just ticks over gently, letting them pass; when he goes for it, he works it to the maximum.

He believes very strongly in keeping his HR low when going downwind - and he makes full use of his incredible super-powers to do it.

Downwind paddling is probably 70-80% of what I do (48 Miller's runs so far this year, working to my goal of 100 for the year) and I've noticed that when the sea is confused, short runs going in all directions, I work really hard and my HR is race-pace. When the conditions are big and clean and you link runs more easily, then my HR comes down. It's all a matter of how much paddles-down time there is.

The last downwind paddle I did (Sunday), conditions were really crap - there were waves but the wind, which had been blowing hard all night) died and we were faced with confused chop. My average HR was race-pace, but my time was the slowest this year. I was working so hard to get onto runs, but I was being knocked off them immediately, very little in the way of linking available.

Here's Sunday's paddle:



There is some variation in HR, but it's relatively flat - and high: ave 150.

Here's one of the better Miller's Runs this year - from February. Note the difference in average speed - and that my average HR was 133. Because I was racing after the Miller's, I was also deliberately taking it easy.


Rob

Currently Fenn Swordfish S, Epic V10 Double.
Previously: Think Evo II, Carbonology Zest, Fenn Swordfish, Epic V10, Fenn Elite, Red7 Surf70 Pro, Epic V10 Sport, Genius Blu, Kayak Centre Zeplin, Fenn Mako6, Custom Kayaks ICON, Brian's Kayaks Molokai, Brian's Kayaks Wedge and several others...
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