Threshold Tests + High-Intensity Training

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  • #48736
    rgrandle
    Participant

    Hi everyone,

    This is my first post and I’m a relative newbie, so I both appreciate everyone taking a look at my post and for bearing with what might be elemental questions. I have a few embedded/related questions regarding my recent aerobic and anaerobic threshold tests, which were both performed while running in my neighborhood as I live in a flat, suburban place and am trying to avoid the gym right now. Both tests were performed with a Garmin Fenix 5x + HRM-TRI strap, and the TrainingPeaks details for the tests are in the attached pictures.

    Aerobic threshold test: My last HR drift test was on a treadmill in January 2020 and was in the low 140s. I’ve since significantly improved my aerobic fitness, and I went in to this test expecting it to be in the 160-165 range. As you can see in the attached, in mid-November, after my warm-up I brought my HR to about 165 and very consistently held it there for an hour. TrainingPeaks calculated a Pa:HR variation of just 0.76%. So my first question is, should I stick with 165 as my AeT, bump it up a few bpm, or retest given it was so flat?

    Anerobic threshold test: First time doing the test. Performed on the same course as the AeT. After my warm up, my 30m average HR was 176 (and varied between 166-186). Max was a few beats lower than expected – a few months ago my lab tested (Balke 3.3mph) max HR was 190 but prior two years were 200, perhaps showing the shift from HIIT to aerobic training. So have gone with AnT of 176 and max HR of 190. My AnT of 176 is only 6.7% above my AeT of (at least) 165, which suggests that I should add in some high-intensity work. Also, TrainingPeaks calculated my Pa:Hr variation to be just 1.86%…does that mean that I just had a bad test, turned it off too early, and didn’t push through hard/long enough at the end?

    So based on these tests, I believe my zones are:

    Zone 1: 132-148
    Zone 2: 149-165
    Zone 3: 166-176
    Zone 4: 177-190

    So here are my questions:
    1.) Should I use 165 as my AeT, bump it up a bit (maybe 167?) given the Pa:Hr of 0.76% , or retest?
    2.) Does my AnT test Pa:Hr variation of 1.86% imply that I tested poorly (should have gritted it out longer) and should retest, or is it fine?
    3.) Using the current AeT/AnT, it shows I need more high-intensity training. I’ve read the article talking about when and how to add in high-intensity training, which is very helpful. I’m in Week 7 of the 24-week training plan, preparing for a mountaineering course in Alaska in late spring. I don’t want to ruin the integrity of the plan. So my question is how should I modify the training plan to add the high-intensity work (e.g. replace a day, tack it on after another workout, modify say my run/hikes to add in intervals)
    4.) Finally, as you can see from my TrainingPeaks pictures, I’m a turtle. My AeT pace was 10:38 min/mi. I want to make sure my pace isn’t the weakest link for my rope team when I’m in Alaska. Should the 24-week plan also improve my speed as my fitness improves?

    Thanks everyone. Really like the book, the site, the training plans, and all the invaluable info in the forum.

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  • Moderator
    Scott Semple on #49353

    If you post public links to the test sessions in Training Peaks, then I can take a closer look. (If the terrain was flat in the drift test, then Pa:HR is the metric to go by.)

    To your questions:

    1.) Should I use 165 as my AeT, bump it up a bit (maybe 167?) given the Pa:Hr of 0.76% , or retest?

    This is false precision. Heart rates aren’t that accurate. Once you’re within a 5-beat bucket for a threshold—or a 10-beat range for a zone—that’s as close as you’re going to get. Also, once the HR range of Zone 3 is narrow, changes will stop. At that point, the most important training begins, focusing on improving pace at those same heart rates.

    2.) Does my AnT test Pa:Hr variation of 1.86% imply that I tested poorly (should have gritted it out longer) and should retest, or is it fine?

    No, it’s fine. Drift doesn’t have much relevance to an AnT test.

    3.) Using the current AeT/AnT, it shows I need more high-intensity training.

    No, it shows that you can tolerate more high-intensity training. “Needs” are determined by goal events, not heart rates.

    I’ve read the article talking about when and how to add in high-intensity training, which is very helpful. I’m in Week 7 of the 24-week training plan, preparing for a mountaineering course in Alaska in late spring. I don’t want to ruin the integrity of the plan. So my question is how should I modify the training plan to add the high-intensity work (e.g. replace a day, tack it on after another workout, modify say my run/hikes to add in intervals)

    I would just stick with the plan. High-intensity is less important for all-day events like mountaineering (compared to a 4-minute skimo sprint). The plan as-is will prepare you well.

    4.) Finally, as you can see from my TrainingPeaks pictures, I’m a turtle. My AeT pace was 10:38 min/mi. I want to make sure my pace isn’t the weakest link for my rope team when I’m in Alaska. Should the 24-week plan also improve my speed as my fitness improves?

    If your thresholds are as close as you think, they likely won’t change much at all going forward. This (pace) is where you get to focus now. Heart rates while training will tell you if you’re at the right intensity, but future threshold tests should focus on pace to measure progress.

    Related to that, changes in threshold heart rates are relatively quick (many months) while improvements in pace can continue for a decade. With an event-specific mix of base and intensity, your speed will increase.

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