Speed training requires lactate threshold heart rate
Posted May 06 2010 11:45am
Lactate Threshold Heart Rate
Many marathon programs for beginners consist of at least one speed training day, usually at the track in a group. While this may work for some runners it may not be specific enough for you. In order to get faster and build on your pace you must work at your lactate threshold.
The lactate threshold is the transition from aerobic to anaerobic physiological processes. Training at or just below the threshold will teach your body how to work faster and more efficiently. While running around a track can be a fun endeavor with others you may be exceeding your threshold which can increase injury and stress your body for optimal training. When running beyond LT you would only be able to carry on the running effort for a few minutes, your breathing would be deep, and you might feel a burning sensation in your legs. Racing next to another on a track may not be specific enough to meet your marathon speed training.
If your goal is to be faster you simply must work within a target heart rate zone. Many recreational runners train off the 220-age formula and carry that through by taking a percentage of the max heart rate. The formula is based on general populations and is by no means accurate.
Do you find you are overly tired, getting sick more frequently, or perhaps your body is not recovering as quickly as it should. These are all possible signs of training beyond your lactate threshold.
There are two methods for acquiring your lactate threshold heart rate. One is a metabolic test and the other is a field test. Most of us do not have the resources for a metabolic test although if you are a serious recreational athlete and can find a sports medicine doctor then ask about the testing processes.
The field test will allow you to determine your lactate threshold heart rate. Determining your lactate threshold is not complicated and takes a concentrated workout of 30 minutes. While this is a simple test it is by no means easy.
Find a flat course or use a treadmill and have your heart rate monitor working correctly. Warm-up adequately. Start your run at a pace you believe you can maintain for 30 minutes but not for much longer. The idea here is for you to finish almost to failure. Read your heart rate consistently the last 20 minutes of your run. Take the mean heart rate. You have your lactate threshold heart rate number now.
In order to acquire speed and efficiency you will need to train just below your heart rate LT number for as long as you can building with each week. If you want to be faster then you must practice speed work at the place which is physiologically beneficial otherwise you may be wasting your training time and increasing your chances for illness and injury.
A great book for learning more about threshold training is, Total Heart Rate Training, by Joel Friel.