First Lactate Threshold Test of ’09

April 26, 2009

FYI: This blog has moved to a new address. Catch up on new posts at: http://swimbikerunlive.com/


With a last week as a rest week, I took it nice and easy, focused on settling into the new job and got ready for a FITNESS TEST! Woot Woot! After a few much needed days off to let the legs freshen up, I headed out for a nice hard 30 minute ride.

Coach Brett has me doing this lactate threshold test every three weeks or so as a benchmark of my fitness. To get some more info on the science behind it, super coach Joel Friel blogged about it here. The plan was that I warm up nice and easy then go all out TT style for 30 minutes, but reset my HRM and bike computer after 10 minutes, so I only collect data for the last 20 minutes. The average heart rate for that last 20 minutes is my lactate threshold heart rate, the point where my body produces more lactic acid than it can break down and it starts accumulating in my blood. The plan is to repeat this test every three weeks or so so that I have a pretty standardized way to track my progress.

I headed out to Concord to find some nice quiet roads and not worry about traffic, and hit it hard. I felt pretty quick, and even buzzed past my old pal Chris, who I hadn’t seen since the Rhode Island 70.3 last year. Unfortunately, there was no time to stop and chat. This guy was on a mission!

The last five minutes definitely hurt. It was a good sign that I was putting in a hard effort, but I may have dropped the pace a little. Maybe next time I’ll start a little easier to keep the pace a little more even. In the end here are the stats for my last 20 minutes.

Avg HR (Lactate Threshold): 173

Max HR: 181

Distance covered: 6.75 miles

Avg Speed: 20.3 mph

Max Speed: 31.2 mph

I’m no exercise physiologist, but my avg HR seems pretty high, in a good way. If the point where my body starts to accumulate lactic acid (173) is only 16 beats away from my max HR (around 189) that has to be pretty good, right? I’m a little disappointed that I only barely broke the 20mph barrier, but I guess it is still only April. I have plenty of time to build up some more speed.

Given that the 220 minus your age rule is crap (and there is no way that I can get my HR up to 195) I redid my HR zones based on these percentages that I got from my coach’s coach at Mike Ricci at D3 Multisport. Here is where I land now.

Zone 1: Recovery – 112-145 bpm
Also known as: Overdistance
Intensity: Very Low
% Lactate Threshold: 65%-84%
Zone 2: Endurance – 146 – 157 bpm
Also known as: Extensive Endurance
Intensity: Moderate
% Lactate Threshold: 85%-91%
Zone 3: Lactate Threshold – 158 – 164 bpm
Also known as: Intensive Endurance
Intensity: Moderate Plus
% Lactate Threshold: 92%-95%
Zone 4: VO2 Max Intervals – 165 – 173 bpm
Also known as: Anaerobic Threshold, Race/Pace
Intensity: Race/Pace
% Lactate Threshold: 96%-100%
Zone 5a: Threshold Endurance – 174 – 176 bpm
Also known as: Superthreshold
% Lactate Threshold: 100%-102%
Zone 5b: Anaerobic Endurance – 177 – 182 bpm
Also known as: Speed Endurance
% Lactate Threshold: 103%-105%
Zone 5c: Anaerobic Capacity – +183 bpm
Also known as: Power
% Lactate Threshold: 106%+

Stay tuned. I’ll be back on the same route three weeks from now to see how I’ve come along. Apparently the LTHR is completely different for running too, so I’ll have to test that seperately too.

And in case you want some more info on lactate threshold. This article was pretty good too.



  1. Very nice! You should be in Z5c for Rev3 🙂

  2. Hi ya

    One thing you might want to consider, is doing the Concord Time Trial on Wednesday nights. It starts at 6:15 and it’s a 9.3 mile course (in case you haven’t actually done it.) You could certainly do it on your own, but when someone is standing there timing you, you tend to push harder than if you were alone! I found that using my PT and doing it every 2-3 weeks and comparing the data was very helpful is seeing my improvement not only with time but average HR, Speed and Power and then when I transfer it to Training Peaks, it breaks down the time you were in each zone.
    Happy Spring er..I mean summer??? 🙂

  3. Oh man, you are so getting speedy, you might just beat me to the roller coaster line! I am so looking forward to it! Hope training and life are going GREAT!
    see ya soon!

  4. this is great info! it will be interesting to see how your training takes shape now that you have this info!

  5. in regards to max HR, how did you initially find this number – was it while biking? the max hr of 220-age is not the most precise thing, but I have found that a quick run will better show a person’s true max HR(in fact, triathletes typically mention a higher max HR for running vs. cycling vs. swimming). i’m strictly a cyclist, but a quick run where I continued to increase my speed gradually until I couldn’t go any faster (it was over the course of a mile, and my all-out effort at the end was sustained for about 1/8 mile to give my heart a chance to catch up) gave me a 197 max HR, which coincided exactly with 220-age. I realize this isn’t always the case, but there’s something to be said about you’re real max HR via a “weight supported activity” (biking) vs. running, as I’ve yet to hit 197 on the bike.

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