Aerobic Threshold

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  • #30160

    I had been training this summer using Training For The Uphill Athlete as a guideline, initially using my aerobic threshold as 150bpm based off my age – 180 and the nose breathe test which was about 153bpm. I had done one shorter race as my first Z3 effort where my average HR was 164 for 1:30 effort and used that as a ballpark lactate threshold. Both of which seemed to be appropriate for easier aerobic efforts and when I added Z3 intervals and I didn’t think much of it.

    I had gotten through my goal races a hilly trail marathon then Imogene pass run (17.1 miles and 5700ft of climbing) 6 days later. My average HR for the marathon was 159 for 5hrs and Imogene pass was 164bpm for 3:20. This had me thinking that maybe I significantly underestimated my aerobic threshold because technically I ran near my lactate threshold for >3hrs on that 2nd race. Any thoughts on this? I hadn’t been on this website yet so didn’t do an aerobic threshold test as discussed on the forum and in a few articles here. As I gear up for skimo season I’m running again and still using 150 as my AeT but may bump that up based off responses here and if I formally test it. Thanks in advance.


Posted In: Mountain Running

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    Rachel on #30228

    It sounds like you should test your AnT with the 30 minute test, I bet it is higher than you think. AnT is supposed to be an effort you can maintain for 30 minutes to an hour depending on how well-trained you are.

    Anonymous on #30232


    It is possible to run long distances above the aerobic threshold. It may well be that you are more economical in the high 150s-low 160s. There is nothing physiologically impossible about maintaining these higher intensities (what we call Zone 3) for the times you mention. We see this very often with aerobically deficient athletes. They can’t sustain race paces without going into Z3.

    The goal of elevating your AeT is so that you can run faster with lower metabolic stress. This will then leave more gas in the tank for high intensity burst, especially late in the race.

    I hope this helps.

    Anonymous on #30259

    I agree with @rachelp; your AnT is probably higher. If you averaged 164 for 1h30′, then I’d guess your AnT is in the low-170s. For training purposes, I would assume it’s ~170.

    mjn3289 on #30288

    Thanks for all the responses. So I definitely will re-do my AnT test, I started to get the feeling that it was a little higher than what I had ball parked it from the shorter race. The weird thing with that race was I had a couple months of only base miles, with no avg HR over 145bpm for a run, and during the race aerobically I felt pretty good but for some reason I just couldn’t push and keep my HR up above 165 for long. This has been an issue of mine in the past when I did a lot of road racing where it felt like my legs would fatigue before I would be aerobically maxed out.

    As Scott J said, I initially would have thought I may be more efficient at the 150-160bpm range but whenever I did zone 3 intervals during this training block it felt really taxing to get my HR up over 160 and maintain that. After a little while I started to feel more comfortable but always better in the lower HR ranged 135-150 for climbing. The races seemed like outliers, where the pace felt like it was at the top end of conversational for the first half of the climbing and then started to feel more challenging but manageable the whole way. The marathon was a death march the last 5-8miles but Imogene I actually felt quite good an was running low6s to 7mins for the last several miles (downhill though).

    Would it be worth it to test both my AeT and AnT running at this time of year with skimo season coming up, or would that best be saved for when I’m on skis to get accurate HR zones for that mode of exercise? Thanks again for the help, sorry for another long post.

    Anonymous on #30314

    If you’re changing gears for the season, then testing for the new sport seems to make more sense to me. That said though, I never had much difference between the two (unlike testing for something very different like cycling).

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