Comparing Effort Expended in Cycling Training to Officiating an Ice Hockey Game

I finally got to officiate a few ice hockey games over the weekend. This is an activity that I really enjoy and frequently participate in, at least from September to March or April.

Officiating cuts down on my opportunities to ride my mountain bike, but it requires a similar amount of aerobic and anaerobic effort. This is why I do a lot of mountain biking in the off-season. A good example of the similar effort requirements is a comparison of a ride I did on Thursday in preparation for The Tour of Hope DC Fund-raising Ride and a hockey game that I officiated on Sunday.

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Mountain biking: Effort expended
during a 26-mile ride on September 23.
Click on the graph for a larger image.

On Thursday, September 23, I rode my East Windsor - Millstone Loop that brings me out into the country east of the New Jersey Turnpike. I was doing this ride at comfortable pace in order to build up my conditioning.

I've been looking for opportunities to ride this route for the last two weeks, both because it is very close to the length of the Tour of Hope DC Fund-raising Ride and because it takes me about as long to ride it as it does to officiate most of the hockey games that I officiate. When I do too many workouts of less than 90 minutes, I sometimes find that I run out of gas in the third period of tough hockey games.

During the course of the ride, I burned an estimated 1,832 calories over one hour 39 minutes of exercise. My heart rate peaked at 175 beats per minute and averaged 157.

In case you are wondering how I produced this data, I wear a Polar S-710 heart rate monitor when I exercise. It's similar to the Polar S-720i that you can find at many cycling or fitness products dealers. The Polar S-Series heart rate monitors come with Polar Precision Performance Software, which I use as my primary training diary.

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Ice hockey officiating: Effort expended
during an Atlantic Youth Hockey League
Midget AAA game on September 26. I was
the referee. Click on the graph for a larger
image.

On Sunday, September 26, I refereed a Midget AAA hockey game in the Atlantic Youth Hockey League. This is the elite level of competition in the New Jersey area for boys who are 16 or 17 years old. I worked with two other officials who were the linesmen. The referee does a lot more skating than the two linesmen in what hockey officials refer to as the three-man officiating system.

The game took one hour and 47 minutes to be played, including a rest period of 10 to 15 minutes while the ice was resurfaced. During the game, I burned about 1,726 calories. My heart rate got as high as 180 beats per minute and averaged 153.

As you can see, the two exercise sessions are pretty similar, at least in terms of effort. The biggest difference are the intermission that is built into hockey games at this level of competition, and number of times that I found myself sprinting up the ice to keep in close to the player in posession of the puck. If I were trying to optimize my workout so it matched the level of effort required to officiate this type of game, I would have to ride for 10 to 20 minutes longer and do intervals for most of the ride.

I am a bit surprised to see that the 26-mile bike ride was more effort than refereeing the hockey game. Maybe one of my linesmen was right when he said that we were lucky that the game wasn't played at an even higher pace. I think I will come back to this article after the Tour of Hope is over, and see if I can plan a cycling interval training session to prepare for officiating Midget AAA hockey.