FIND YOUR THRESHOLD
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.
3,200m TIME TRIAL
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.
30-MINUTE TIME TRIAL
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.