Runner's World (UK) - - Training -

You don’t have to go to a lab to find your thresh­old pace. Here are five other DIY meth­ods


Al­berto Salazar de­scribed the clas­sic 20-minute tempo-run pace as ‘ fun fast’. Layne An­der­son, at the Univer­sity of Iowa, US, says it ‘ feels like a 75 per cent ef­fort’. If you are able to hit a pace con­sis­tently and feel it was a chal­leng­ing ef­fort, you are prob­a­bly run­ning at your thresh­old. If you can’t sus­tain the pace, or have too much left in the tank at the end, you were run­ning too fast or too slow.


Un­der race con­di­tions, most run­ners can run about 50- 60 min­utes at lac­tate thresh­old, says Jack Daniels. For elites, that’s roughly half­marathon pace. For age-group com­peti­tors, it might be 10-mile or 15K pace. For oth­ers, it might be 12km or 10K pace.


Based on a 1982 pa­per by a team led by Ital­ian re­searcher Francesco Conconi, this test uses a heart-rate mon­i­tor. At slow-to-mod­er­ate paces, heart rate in­creases lin­early with pace. But there comes a point where that no longer holds and your heart rate starts to level off, no mat­ter how fast you run. The point where this oc­curs, Conconi says, is your lac­tate thresh­old.


In a 1987 study a team led by Univer­sity of Vir­ginia re­searcher Arthur Welt­man at­tempted to cor­re­late 3,200m time-trial paces with lab-mea­sured lac­tate-turnover paces. The for­mula is: thresh­old pace (in me­tres per minute) equals 509.5 mi­nus 20.82 × 3,200m time in min­utes. Their re­sults have an 11:56 time trial over 3,200m (12:00 for 2 miles) trans­lat­ing to a thresh­old pace of 6:10 per mile.


Like the Conconi test, this one is heart-rate based. Triathlon coach Joe Friel ar­gued that to find your lac­tate-thresh­old ef­fort level you mon­i­tor your heart rate dur­ing a 30-minute solo time trial. Dur­ing the first 10 min­utes, your heart rate will speed to­ward the lac­tate-thresh­old plateau. It’s the av­er­age heart rate dur­ing the fi­nal 20 min­utes that mat­ters.


In a 2005 study, 27 dis­tance run­ners and triath­letes did the last four of these tests, then com­pared the re­sults to lac­tate blood work de­ter­mined on a tread­mill. The con­clu­sion: the best was the 30-minute solo time trial.

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