Recovery State and Techniques for Deciding Base Training Workout Intensities

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  • #10407

    I have two questions for you aerobic base training gurus out there.

    1. For those of us trying to overcome Aerobic deficiency syndrome, what might an ideal breakdown of percentages of time spent in certain heart rate subzones?

    Scott was kind enough to link me to the attached file which shows a breakdown for Moses Mosop which is a fantastic reference – but those of us with ADS are not Mosop. He sent me that before I ever got lab testing done.

    -my VT1, AeT, First Lactate Threshold (<2mmol rise from baseline), AND MEP/Crossover Point are all at 155 bpm
    -my Lactate Threshold (<4mmol rise) is at 183 bpm
    -I will train 15 uphill only hours this week of 100% base hours (below AeT due to ADS)
    -for the sake of simplifying my question, I split my available base training zone into 3 different zones:
    125-135 bpm, 135-145 bpm, 145-155 bpm.

    The ex-pro triathlete at the metabolic testing lab said “spend as much of your volume up right at your AeT as possible for the quickest gains in performance”. I’ve also heard from Scott that Zone 2 training is an effective place to train for those of us with ADS.

    Lets pretend I can recover completely and perfectly from every workout I do. Is the ideal case for making gains to train all 15 hours this week in that 145-155 bpm range, and preferably right up by 155, modulating volume from day to day? Or are there training adaptation advantages to using the whole range to train , putting some volume into the 125-135 bin, 135-145 bin, and 145-155 bin, modulating day-to-day by pace and volume, and if so, what would be an ideal breakdown percentage-wise for the three ranges?

    2. What are your methodologies for dictating the day’s target intensity? (coming back to the real world here where we can’t eat and sleep and recover perfectly every single day and have external daily stresses, i.e. recovery state exists and is very important).

    Here are some methods I have thought about and have experimented with:
    1) Your life is dictated by cells in a spreadsheet where there is a perfectly calculated breakdown of 33% of the volume at 145-155, 33% of the volume at 135-145, and 33% of the volume at 125-135. Each day has a pre-prescribed volume and intensity, where both modulate throughout the week. I don’t think this is the best way to train anymore, even though it’s nice on paper.
    2) You have a target of spending as much of your time up in that 145-155 zone as possible (the validity of this comes from the answer to question 1 obviously), but where you actually spend your time depends on your perceived recovery state. Daily intensity is dictated by recovery state and volume is pre-prescribed unless recovery state is bad and volume will be dropped that day too. Recovery state is being interpreted by these data points: General feelings of motivation for the day, soreness, Waking resting heart rate, waking HRV, pace/HR ratio during warmup, general feeling during warmup (am I feeling strong today?)

    Do you experts out there have any other metrics I am missing that you like to use for assessing your recovery state? Either way, how do you like to apply them to the day’s workout intensity or volume decisions?

    Am I on the right track here with that number 2 approach described above?

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    mountain_stoke on #10409

    Correction: >2mmol, >4mmol, not rise from baseline.

    Anonymous on #10430

    Yes, #2.

    The one caveat is that HRV tech is not as good as advertised. In contrast, an orthostatic HR test will probably give you better information.

    Anonymous on #10502

    Mtn Stoke; Good for you for investing a Metabolic test and finding a good lab who knew what you were looking for when you said “AEROBIC” threshold. Most give you a blank stare. Lots of questions above so I’ll try to give answers broadly. You might have to read between the lines a bit but understanding the theory will help you prescribe and control your own training better than a simple yes/no from me.

    Only a tiny faction of humans can perform at Mosop’s level. However that attached doc is illustrative in that it shows that even a guy who can string together 26 mile at 4:41 pace does only a few percent of his training at that pace. Most of us could not run 800 meters at this man’s marathon pace. Yet only 2% of his total training time is at efforts above his anaerobic threshold! I use this document to illustrate how wrong is the commonly held notion that the elites must train hard a lot. They train fast but not hard.

    Fixing ADS
    For those with ADS, you can and should train at your aerobic threshold as often as possible for the fastest gains. This pace may feel ridiculously slow and you may wonder how it can possibly do any good. The reason it is slow as this is the limit of the energy your aerobic system can supply before the anaerobic metabolic process becomes dominant. You can only improve this base aerobic capacity by training at this low/moderate intensity. This is where it is very clear that intensity is no substitute for duration. In fact the more your add intensity the less you can improve this basic aerobic capacity. The higher the volume of this sub AeT training you do the faster you will accumulate the benefits. In your case train as much as your legs can handle right up to 155. See the next section to

    How to gage recovery state is a really important thing. Its the feedback you need to have to determine when to dial back the training load. As Semple said the technology of HRV is promising and I’d love it if it worked 100% of the time. But its just not there yet. Steve and I do a bit of work with various branches of the military special forces. We just returned from such a trip. These guys have all the money in the world and access to all the latest tech stuff. Their human performance staff has tried a bunch of different HRV based recovery tools on the operators. The results are mixed at best for a number of reasons I won’t go into here as its too long.

    As Scott mentioned and my experience, the Orthostatic test has proven to be more reliable than simple HRV tests. An even simpler test is what I call the stair test. We used to use this test when I was ski racing. Its crude but effective. First thing in the AM, put on your HR monitor and step up and down on/off a step at a moderate cadence till your HR climbs to somewhere in the range of 100-120 or so. The step cadence should be easy to moderate effort and you probably only need to do this for a minute. Once you elevate the HR to 100+ immediately sit down and note your HR in 1 minute. The rate of drop in HR will bear almost a perfect inverse correlation to your recovery state. The faster your HR recovers from the mild stressor the more recovered you are. This takes little time, involves very little stress and is very portable. The step height and the cadence need to be the same each test. Establish a base line during a period of low training load and then note your perception when you train following test where the HR recovery is less during the 1 min. A slow HR recovery indicates poor recovery. How poor will only you can decide by testing yourself. You may find that 10 beats slower recovery will still allow you to train as normal but 15 beats means you need a day off. It’s very individual.

    I hope this helps,

    mountain_stoke on #10504

    Thanks guys. Helpful stuff.

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