Due to social distancing, I have not been able to join a group ride since the middle of March. Before the coronavirus, work, family commitments and illness meant that I haven’t ridden with the club since the end of November (was this antisocial distancing?).
Usually I only do long rides with the club, and tend to stick to around 30 miles when solo. In the lockdown period, I have been going out every day, alternating cycling with walking. I believe I am getting a little fitter; every day I take a Kardia reading while relaxing in the evening, I have been recording these for several years now. It seems that over the last couple of months, there has been a significant drop in my relaxing HR. Also my Garmin watch tells me my resting HR is down at 57, which is exactly the same as prior to AF in 2015.
Another metric I trace is the average and maximum HR during a ride. My tested max HR while still healthy was 185; prior to AF I would average around 156 and peak at 175 on hills and occasionally I would hit close to the maximum on a specific effort. In 2015 I sometimes hit exceptionally high rates of up to 220, but these were momentary and did not affect my performance, so I assumed that they were faulty readings, and thereby ignored the early signs of AF.
Recently I have decided that a return to my “normal” exercise would be a return to the conditions that led me to develop AF, so I have restricted my max HR to 165. I have changed the gearing on my bikes from a 28 tooth sprocket to a 30 tooth. I am also using this regularly and spinning up smaller hills, whereas in the past I would have powered up most hills mashing the pedals in a 23 tooth, using the 25 and 28 as bail-out gears for the extremes of the peak district.
I am much slower on the hills than I was, but I am also a few Kg heavier, which may be more relevant than my aerobic fitness. Overall, my annualised average speed is continuing to rise, but I am still 1.3 mph down on my previous healthy average.
On this graph I am considering my health to be fine up until the end of 2014. There was a slight reduction in average speed up to that point, but that was likely to correspond with taking longer and more hilly rides. I suspect that I will continue to improve my fitness over the summer, without stressing my body too much.