Looking for feedback on training zones/AeT after self-assessments and lab test

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  • #62333
    Stefan E.
    Participant

    Dear all,

    both TftUA and TftNA helped me a lot to improve my understanding of training and to adapt my own planning as well as my daily training and I am very enthustiastic about these books. (My main focus lies on mountaineering and alpine climbing; however, I also enjoy mountain running, strength training and sports climbing for their own.) After I have conducted several self-assessments regarding my zones, I have done a “classic” blood lactate test in a sports lab last week. There, I have run intervals of three minutes, followed by a thirty second break, where a blood sample was taken from my ear.

    Following the lab results, my AeT is located at a heart rate of 157 and my AnT at a heart rate of 179. In detail, the following data was collected, which also resulted in the chart I have attached. There, my AeT and AnT are also displayed. (Some of the letterings in the graph are still in German, but they are not relevant here.)

    3 minute intervals:
    speed (km/h) – average heart rate – lactate concentration at the end of the interval (mmol/l)
    (standing) – 88 – 0.91
    6.00 – 130 – 1.23
    7.50 – 142 – 1.19
    9.00 – 150 – 1.14
    10.50 – 161 – 1.40
    12.00 – 175 – 2.09
    13.50 – 180 – 3.02
    15.00 – 187 – 4.81
    (I was not able to add another interval with a higher speed afterwards, so the test was finished here.)

    I was very surprised by the results, as I would have estimated my AeT to be located at a heart rate of approximately 140 to 145. At a heart rate near 157, it is completely impossible for me to breath through the nose or to hold a conversational pace. Running “very easy” to “easy” is possible for me at a heart rate of 130 to 138.

    On the other hand, I have conducted two long alpine mountain runs on two subsequent days over five hours each last October, comprising 1500 to 1700 vertical meter each and around 20 km each, which is quite a bit of volume for me. There, my average heart rate was around 156 on both days and I felt a bit tired on the days afterwards but far from being totally drained and exhausted. These numbers would fit to the lab results, with my zone 2 ranging from a heart rate of 142 to 157, feeling “moderate” – a zone which I would have self-assessed as “zone 3” before the lab test.

    Hence, I would be very grateful for feedback on the results. How would you interpret the results, especially taking into regards the lactate concentrations measured in the lab test?

    Best regards,
    Stefan

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  • Spectator
    Scott Johnston on #62416

    Stephan:

    I don’t pretend to have all the answers but I might be able to help you understand these results a little better and how they might be used in your training.

    The first thing I can say is that you are a slow twitch athlete (ST dominate muscle fiber type). I know this because your blood lactate levels were so low for all of the test but especially in the beginning. This might be due to genetics or your training history of lots of endurance training. Either way this is good news for you considering that kinds of activities you like.

    You probably recover quite well from big days in the mountains. You are also probably will not be trying out for the high jump team or the basketball team 😉 By this I mean you probably do not have a great vertical jump height 🙂

    Just because you could do a long mountain run like in October and have an average HR of 156 does not mean that is your aerobic threshold. It is possible to have an average HR in Z3 for mountain runs because of the change in gradient of the trail. I doubt you could run on flat ground for the same time these runs took you (2-4 hours maybe) with an average HR of 156.

    With athletes like you with very low lactate levels it is not easy to get the AeT from a lactate test. It seems that they have chosen the HR at which lactate levels begin to rise. I can understand that reasoning but I suspect it is too high. The fact that this was well above a conversational pace also indicates what I mentioned above. I doubt you would consider this pace was not sustainable for 1,2 or 3 hours.

    As a comparison to this lab test I suggest you do a HR Drift test on a treadmill and see if you also get 157. I suspect you will not and that the AeT HR from the drift test of a conversational pace will be closer to 145-150.

    Next I suggest you conduct a field anaerobic threshold test. I much prefer them to either a lactate test or a gas exchange test. Both those tests (gas exchange and lactate) are looking at proxies to help establish this number. Both these tests are steps tests with only 3 minutes spent at each speed. You are transitioning through the intensities.

    Where as a field test is an actual performance test. You will run up hill as hard as can (after a good warm up) for 45min. The average HR during that test IS, by definition, your AnT HR. That is the maximum HR or speed or vertical rate of climb or power that you can sustain for many minutes. The normal duration is 30-60min. Thirty min for the less fit and 60 min for the elites. For you 45 minutes.

    See what these two tests tell you and report back.

    I hope this helps
    Scott

    Participant
    Stefan E. on #62474

    Dear Scott,

    Thanks a lot for your answer and your assessments, this helped a lot!

    The fact that I am a slow twitch athlete is very interesting, something I have assumed several times in the past. Your assumptions are correct: My recovery from big days in the mountains is quite well (as long as I have not been moving too fast) and I have never been good at sports that require speed or explosive strength ;-). Likewise, my vertical jump height is poor, too.
    In addition, I have a history in powerlifting, which I have really enjoyed – but despite over ten years of serious training efforts, I have never achieved high levels of strength, especially regarding lower body movements. On the contrary, after starting out endurance training, I have progressed quite fast. (I am 35 years old now and I have been doing powerlifting from the age of 18 to 32, then I have transitioned to endurance sports and training as main focus.)

    It is also true that I would not have been able to sustain the speed of the lactate test at a HR of 157 for several hours. I tried to run one hour on nearly flat ground in recovered state a few days after the lactate test with a HR above 150 and I had to slow down quickly.

    I have already conducted an anaerobic threshold test a short while ago. The average HR of that test was 176, which would then be my AnT.

    I have now also conducted a HR drift test – with a starting HR of 145, falling into the 3.5 to 5 percent range. This also fits to my former self-assessments with conversational pace and nose breathing limit. I have conducted a few of these tests in the near past and the resulting HR always fell exactly into the range you have estimated: 145 to 150. So I would argue that my own guess in the entry post of an AeT of 140 to 145 was too conservative, but that an AeT of 157 is way above mit actual AeT.

    My conclusion would be that I now use an AeT of 145 and an AnT of 176 to organize my training around. I would say that these numbers also point out to ADS, so I would now mainly train in Z2 (HR 131 to 145), preferably in a range near the AeT (HR 140 to 145).

    Best regards,
    Stefan

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