Controlling My Heart Rate While Riding.

“Mindfulness is built around the premise of disengaging from overly emotional responses and extraneous thoughts that clutter the mind’s ability to think clearly. By using techniques such as breathing, visual imagery and meditation to slow down and focus on the present, the theory goes, a person can tap into a higher level of awareness. The more acute awareness is the byproduct of more active brain waves brought on by meditation, studies have shown.”

Can I really control my heart rate? On Friday I didn’t have much time to ride (preparing for the Avenue of The Oaks) so I decided to do some hill repeats in preparation for April 4th. After warming up for about 1/2 hour I started riding a hill I like that is 0.6 miles/205′. S0 for me that was 5min 30sec – 6min 30sec with a coast back down of 2min 30sec ‘ish. My goal was to do 10, I made it to 8 before I limped home. My heart rate would range in the 145-150bpm range at it’s peak and by the time I recovered back down the hill and turned around to go at it again I’d be around 107-110bpm. After my 5th uphill battle I was approaching 155bpm a little too easy for my liking  my doc doesn’t like me to go more than 155 bpm for very long)  so I concentrated very hard and focused on my breathing pattern, almost a meditative trance if you will. I made deliberately strong exhales and inhales while imagining (invisioning) in a very real time way that my heart was very relaxed and barely working to pump. I also imagined every artery in my body was widening open as I had to make through the steepest section. When I glanced at my heart rate on my Garmin after 20-30 seconds my heart rate was 4-7 beats lower every time I did this. Now this isn’t scientific but I did make sure my cadence was same on each of the last 3 hill climbs as a reference. I was now able to maintain 147-148bpm. Whenever I stopped this “technique” I would instantly raise my bpm.

I learned this technique of controlled breathing soon after my heart attack. I got terrible panic attacks and would “freak out” that I was going to have another one. I started listening to Jon Kabat Zinn’s cd made with Dr. Andrew Weil,  Meditation for Optimum Health. Also through Pranayama yoga classes where breath awareness is a major component of your practice.

I really started to utilize Mindfulness Meditation when I first started riding again after my heart attacks. I was terrified to go too far, to hard, too fast etc…so I decided to use what I had been listening to at home and what I was earning in yoga while pedaling. It seems like such and obvious think now but I still forget about it. But, when I see a hill coming up or my heart starts to get a little out of range for my liking I try these techniques and they work for me.

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