RUNNING:

TRAINING ZONES EXPLAINED

PROGRESSIVE IN NATURE

SIMPLE BY DESIGN

ONLINE TRAINING SYSTEMS FOR MOUNTAIN-BASED ATHLETES

 

OVERVIEW

For years, scientists debated which training method and metric would most closely predict running success. For the most part, lactate threshold heart rate, and a runner’s pace at lactate threshold came out on top. Where lactate threshold pace becomes a challenge is when a runner leaves the road and heads to the trail. Because trail surfaces vary significantly pace is a difficult metric to control, which is why we’ll be utilizing lactate threshold heart rate to “pace” trail runs, rather than literal running pace. At times, especially when it comes to measuring lactate threshold heart rate and pace, we will encourage the use of a flat road or track, but for the reasons listed above we will generally use heart rate to determine effort during runs.

CALCULATING LACTATE THRESHOLD HEART RATE

Determine your lactate threshold heart rate (LTHR) with a short test. Ideally, complete this test before and Union Athletics conditioning plan.

To find your LTHR complete a maximum effort 30-minute solo run. Complete this effort at your “race pace”, you should be exhausted at the end of the run. Track your average heart rate for the final 20 minutes of this run. That number is an approximation of your LTHR.

The reason we do not track heart rate during the first 10 minutes is to settle into a hard, but consistent pace, and to give the heart enough time to adapt to the effort. We encourage frequent LTHR testing as it may change slightly over time, while your lactate threshold pace can improve significantly and is a great indicator of improved fitness.

ZoneNameHeart RatePerceived ExertionDescription
1RecoveryLess than 85% of LTHR>2Very easy effort. Active recovery.
2Aerobic85% to 89% of LTHR2-3Classic long slow distance (LSD) training. Nasal breathing possible, along with speaking in complete sentences.
3Tempo90% to 94% of LTHR4-5Typical intensity of unstructured solo ride, “spirited” group ride, or paceline. More sensation of effort and fatigue. Nasal breathing challenging, but complete sentences possible.
4Sub Threshold95% to 99% of LTHR6-7Moderate or even greater leg effort/fatigue. Complete sentences challenging. Consecutive days are possible, but require adequate recovery before and after.
5aSuper Threshold100% to 102% of LTHR8High effort and fatigue. Efforts are often broken into “repeats” rather than as a single block to reduce mental fatigue.
5bAerobic Capacity103% to 106% of LTHR9Typical intensity of longer (3-8 min) intervals intended to increase VO2max. High effort and fatigue. Training sessions tend to be shorter. Inability to speak in complete sentences.
5cAnaerobic CapacityMore than 106% of LTHR10Short, high intensity intervals ranging from 30-seconds to three minutes. Heart rate generally not useful due frequent effort changes. Near maximal effort, and conversation impossible.

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UNION

PROGRESSIVE IN NATURE
SIMPLE BY DESIGN

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