Watts question - need help

So I’m relatively ignorant about all the data that I have access to thanks to Zwift, Garmin, Strava, etc. Today I completed my first race but I can’t decipher the data…HR was low, watts were high but go smoked. I’m guessing it’s my cadence is too low, correct? It was 73 but can’t see others cadence.

Cadence doesn’t really matter, you can put out the same power at 65 rpm or 90 rpm, its whatever you are comfortable with. What you want to focus on is HR and power or watts/kg (w/kg). You should do an FTP test as well to find your limits.

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Your heart rate was very low, did it feel easy? Avg 118 is zone 1, max 145 is not high for most people either. Avg power was decent at 220 watts, but I would think your HR would be higher at that power.

If you wish to analyse your HR data it is important to know what your maximum heart rate is. There is a great variation between individuals in maximum heart rates so it is not something you should guess at. Maximum heart rate can also vary within individuals based on weather, hydration, fatigue, illness, and medication.

Heart rate lags effort; it takes time to rise and time to drop. To reach your maximum heart rate you need to be riding at VO2 max power or above for long enough for the heart rate to increase to its maximum. This level of effort is not sustainable over a one hour race.

I had a look at some of your rides on the companion app. In the race your heart rate peaked at 145 bpm. The highest heart rate I could find your other rides is 154 bpm. In a 20 minute FTP test in January your HR ranged from 117-137 bpm during the 20 minute effort but there was a big increase in your power during the last 6 minutes.

From this data I estimate your maximum HR is 154 bpm and your lactate threshold heart rate is around 126 bpm. Given those numbers your race heart rate of 118 bpm average and 145 bpm maximum is not unusually low. Those numbers are also consistent with your lower intensity rides that average 105-110 bpm.

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Did you feel like you were dying near the end?

The main strategy with the zwift races is get into a fast bunch and try to hold on for as long as you can. This often means the first part of the race is a lot harder than you would like. Make sure you are properly warmed up before the start (getting you heart rate higher than cruising) and when the race starts stand up and do a 10-30 second sprint to get further up the bunch, then sit back down and keep the watts up. Your heart rate should go and you should feel uncomfortable. The pace will reduce and it will become more comfortable or you will get dropped despite your best efforts (don’t panic). Keep riding trying to grab on to any bunch that is coming up behind you (use the reverse camera, the distance indications at the bottom of the time gaps on the side). You should be able to hold one of the group eventually and then you should be working with the group until you start thinking about the sprint.

Each race try to stick with the first bunch you get to for longer and longer. Make sure you have a good fan or two on you and plenty of water.

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