Where's the black hole?

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  • #28383

    Having read and enjoyed TFtUA I’m seeking to apply the principles into my training (for hilly trail running). My background is a few years of running with blocks at MAF heart rate. I’ve now tested my AeT and found it’s a lot higher than my MAF HR and that my LT is actually not a great deal higher than my AeT (maybe 5bpm). In a lot of the material I’ve read before there’s often the message that you need to avoid what has been referred to as the ‘black hole’ which often refers to zone 2. My question is that with an AeT near to the LT where is the ‘black hole’ and is there a zone that is to be avoided?

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    briguy on #28385

    I’m interested in this too. Joe Friel calls this zone the “happy hard” zone that most recreational runners/cyclists spend most of their time. Especially when running in social groups. They feel like they accomplished something because they went “hard” but it really wasn’t hard enough to make substantial gains, yet certainly not easy enough to serve as recovery for other truly-hard days.

    There are lots of proponents of this poloarized methodology (like 80/20 etc) with almost all of them having a middle zone that is generally avoided (with exceptions).

    Anonymous on #28402

    “Happy hard”! I hadn’t heard that before, but it’s perfect.

    First, definitions: The “junk zone”, the “black hole”, etc in a five-zone system is Zone 3. The zone label may vary, so the thing to keep in mind is that it’s an intensity that is bracketed by the aerobic and anaerobic thresholds.

    In athletes, it’s an overstatement to say that it should be avoided. But that’s good advice for the general population. It needs to be trained like every other intensity. However, most people go there too often because of the happy-hard attraction. Like @briguy said, it’s hard enough to feel like work, not hard enough to get a lot of benefits, and not easy enough to build aerobic capacity. When it’s a high proportion of training time, it’ll reduce aerobic capacity.

    As the aerobic system strengthens, Zone 3 narrows. It can get so narrow (as @davelockyer101 has described) that it functionally doesn’t exist.

    BUT! When that happens, Zone 2 training becomes just as exhausting as Zone 3 used to be. It’s easier metabolically, but just as hard neuromuscularly because the speed is still relatively high. At that point, Zone 2 training has to happen in moderation and Zone 1 becomes the bulk of the training volume.

    : For most people, the MAF formula is very conservative, and it’s based on averages which is never a great approach. (For people with lower-than-average heart rates, I’m sure it’s a disaster.) Thankfully, it worked for you, but it’s safe to say you can ignore it from now on. Also, with your thresholds that close, you may want to get a proper gas exchange test done.

    derekosborne22 on #28409

    Re my recent post which asks about AeT improvement it was noted by Scott that I have a very wide gap between AeT and LT ….. guess what – I’ve spent a lot of time in the “happy hard” zone over the last few years :-(((

    Ah well, never too late to change ….

    briguy on #28415

    @ScottSemple – I just have to compliment you as you seem to have a really good grasp of these UA concepts and do a great job in communicating them to the posters on this forum. I appreciate the effort you put into these posts.

    davelockyer101 on #28417

    Thanks. That makes sense.

    Also, with your thresholds that close, you may want to get…

    Was there something to add?

    briguy on #28420

    Something must be up with your forum view, it’s a link to the following:

    Choosing a Metabolic Testing Lab: It’s a Jungle Out There

    Anonymous on #28421

    @briguy: Thanks. I’m glad it’s helpful!

    Aaron on #28423

    As an aside, when mobile viewing no links are visible on this forum, if I switch to desktop view they are visible. I thought it was my end but sounds like others experience it too.

    Anonymous on #28522

    @aaron: Thanks for the heads up. As far as we can tell, this a platform (mobile or desktop), browser (varies), and website (WordPress) issue. We don’t know how to solve it yet, so the best bet is to try a different browser.

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