Diagnosing Aerobic Deficiency Syndrome (ADS)

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  • #8851

    Hello Everyone,

    I have read the posts on ADS in the forum and read the article on TINSTAAFL in TFNA, Ballinger’s Everest (https://www.mensjournal.com/adventure/how-adrian-ballinger-summited-everest-without-oxygen-w484387/), TFNA material on ADS and the article on HR drift (https://uphillathlete.com/heart-rate-drift/).

    From what I can tell most climbers here at one point or another have suffered from it.

    What I can’t seem to find is a good way to diagnose it. There is discussion on the nose breathing method, being able to talk on the approach trail, using HR-Drift seems to be the most accurate (the linear relationship between speed and HR until above AeT) method for determining where your AeT is and therefore enable you to determine if you are able to run/hike at a speed within your AeT, and hence know if you are suffering from ADS (with slow speeds at just below AeT HRs indicating you are suffering from AeT). This is my interpretation, perhaps I am incorrect?

    What I am hoping for is some symptoms I can look for in the data (I am not able to perform a HR-Drift calculation as I don’t have a GPS watch yet).

    In some of the posts Scott has mentioned that if you are not able to run fast within your AeT then you may have ADS. What there seems to be little info on is what is considered fast and what is slow. Are there some basic guideposts on run speed on the flats?

    When I started training I was running at roughly 4.5mph (just a hoping jog really) and my HR was below 135bpm.

    That was in November, now I am running at 5mph. When I start the run my HR is 110-125bpm up until roughly the 15 minute mark, then it starts to climb steadily and plateaus roughly at about 135-140bpm. Is that fast/slow? What is considered fast? If I am running at that speed at that HR for 1 hour is that a good marker I am suffering from ADS?

    Thanks everyone,

    Climb safe,

  • Inactive
    Anonymous on #8859


    There is no answer to the question of what is “fast”. A world class male marathoner will have an aerobic threshold pace of about 4:50/mile. Thats right: 4 min and 50 seconds per mile and that is a apace HE can maintain for 2+ hours. I think we can all agree that that qualifies as “fast”. We frequently see folks who have very little aerobic training history start with us in the 12 min/mile pace range at AeT and after a few months see that drop to 10min/mile. But, like everything else when it comes to one’s physiology: It is highly individual. You will not learning anything about yourself (or your fitness) by comparing yourself to someone else. You need to compare YOU to YOU.

    The best method is to go to a lab and do an aerobic threshold test or a metabolic efficiency test using a gas exchange method. The next best is to do a incremental step test in which you measure your blood lactate at ever increasing speeds/HRs. There are articles covering these tests in detail on this website. These will tell you about your own unique metabolic response to exercise.

    The HR drift test is simple and does not require a GPS. It only requires a treadmill and a HR monitor. Start with a nice gradual warm up wherein you settle on the pace/HR that you feel should pretty close to your AeT. Then hold that pace for 60 min and record your HR. Using Training Peaks you can see what your average HR was for the first 30 min and compare that your average HR for the second 30 minutes. If the second 30min average is more than 5% greater than the first 30 min average, you were above your AeT for this run. You may need to do this test a few times to dial it in. We use this test with many of our coached clients and it shows their AeT improving over time and is nice simple test as well as motivating.

    So, don’t worry about what someone else’s “fast” is. Do one of these tests to set a base line and then re-test in a few weeks/months. The HR drift test is simple and cheap.

    I hope this helps.

    Anonymous on #8860


    Forgot to mention that to determine ADS you also need to do an AnT test. If the spread between AnT and AeT exceeds 10% in terms of HR or pace then we call that ADS. The AnT is here: https://uphillathlete.com/diy-anaerobic-test/. This one is also easy to self administer.
    As an example: Say you ran up hill for 37 min (the length of a nearby long hill) as hard as you could and your average HR was 167. This is your anaerobic threshold because the AnT is your endurance limit (the maximum effort you can sustain for along time (30 min for amateurs and 60 min for pros). Then you do the more cumbersome AeT test using HR drift and find that your best AeT HR after a few tests is 140. The difference between these is 27. Clearly more than 10% so then you’d know that you have considerable room to improve your basic aerobic fitness.


    xcskier on #8876

    Scott has mentioned several times that even elite athletes suffer
    from ADS (but it is probably masked by other abilities).

    How does ADS manifest in *elite* athletes, runners or cross-country skiers?
    Same as in weekend warriors?

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