Speed Tests

  • Creator
  • #41174

    Couple of quick questions on what what I’m calling “Speed Tests”. Here’s what I mean:

    Back in my days of rowing and triathlon, it was very common to do a series of tests every 8-12 weeks. In triathlon, we’d do race-pace 500m swims for example. In rowing, it felt like every day was a test, but certainly the 2000 / 6000m tests were king.

    I don’t see these talked about too much on here, but quarantine has me thinking about racing and raw pace. I’m trying to apply my knowledge from TFtNA and Uphill Athlete and decide the best way to incorporate and learn from testing.

    I’d like to think about two example races–a road marathon, and the grand traverse (40 mi / 6000ft gain). What tests would you say are benchmarks that might correlate with speed in these events? Runners talk all the time about 10k pace, 5k pace… but I have no idea what mine are — I do a lot of a long slow runs with some 30/30s, but that’s it.

    Would you test these every 12 weeks? Where in the training plan would you put them? I’m torn because I want to go in rested, but I don’t want to disrupt my training schedule for something that feels…superfluous.

    How do you all use this sort of testing? And is it necessary? Depending on where one is in their training cycle, certainly that pace just may not be there and that would be perfectly ok. Is it possible to read too much into these kinds of tests?

    Hope all is well in quarantine folks.

  • Participant
    OwenFW on #41175


    Anonymous on #41183

    Good question(s). Time trials are very useful to monitor progress. What you use will depend on what you have available.

    Our general plans have aerobic and anaerobic threshold tests. The plans focus on these because almost everyone that starts structured training needs to improve their metabolic efficiency (how well they burn the fat and glycogen that they have available). If efficiency is improved, so will performance.

    But once improvements in heart rate stop (which is a short-term, “first wave” response), then you need to start using some other type of performance standard. For uphill athletes with variable terrain (unlike a track athlete), the best thing to do is a field test on the same piece of terrain over time.

    The tests should be performance-specific. For most mountain athletes—excluding perhaps VK races—testing at aerobic threshold is more appropriate than something more intense (in my opinion).

    Testing at the aerobic threshold will also allow you to test more often because they’ll be quicker to recover from both physically and mentally. I would rather test more often than not. When I was training for skimo, I would test every four to six weeks, typically at the end of a recovery week so I was well-rested.

    In that context, I used a lactate meter and used a ramped stage test to find my ~2mM and ~4mM paces. But that level fo geekery is definitely not required. Field tests and comparing the distance traveled in X minutes at X BPM will work just fine.

    If training for the GT, I would use an aerobic threshold time trial of 45-60′ all uphill (after a gradual thorough warm-up). Race pace during the GT won’t be above AeT (it’s too long), so any improvement in aerobic threshold performance will probably mean better performance in the GT.

    The same principle applies to a road marathon. But the terrain is flat, so I would use pace rather than distance. After a gradual thorough warm-up, do a 45-60′ time trial at AeT HR. Then note your average pace.

    If your training is effective, then future time trials with the above methods should show improvements in distance and pace.

    Anonymous on #41184

    …also, if training for a road marathon, I would train by pace and ignore heart rate. Heart rate is just a fudgy substitute for what we’d much prefer to measure: pace or power.

    OwenFW on #41187

    RE measuring power, has anyone tired using the Stryd power sensor for mountain running training?

    Anonymous on #41192

    I tried it a few years ago before they had updated their algorithm for sub-3-mph. Before that update, it was useless on steep terrain. I sold mine before the update, so I haven’t used it since, but it may have improved.

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