Somewhere, deep down inside, you have wished that someone will discover some amazing capability that you never knew you had. I know I did. Perhaps I would surprise myself and actually be an alarmingly fast cyclist, or perhaps an extremely efficient swimmer? Maybe the foray into two new sports will yield shocking results. Or not.
On Friday, I met up with my coach to perform my lactate threshold testing that would be the base of my training from that day forward. Maybe the analysis would tell me I have a perfect pedal stroke? Maybe I’ll set a record of some sort…maybe.
My secret dreams were dashed when I realized that no Superman strengths were revealed. Le sigh…just a typical ol’ human. However, I will admit that I almost broke a record, but not a record that one looks forward to breaking.
But first, let’s talk about the testing. I’ll try to explain it to the best of my knowledge (and Internet search capability), but please note that I am no pro in the science of this.
What is lactate threshold? “The lactate threshold is a point during exhaustive, all-out exercise at which lactate builds up in the blood stream faster than the body can remove it. Anaerobic metabolism produces energy for short, high-intensity bursts of activity (lasting no more than a few minutes) before the lactate build-up reaches a threshold where it can no longer be absorbed and, therefore, accumulates. This point is known as the lactate threshold and is usually reached between 50 to 80% of an athlete’s VO2 max.” (Don’t I sound doctor-like? That’s because I didn’t write it. This site did.)
So what does this mean? If you have a higher lactate threshold, the longer you can sustain more intensive endurance activity. Thus, from you threshold test results, you can determine appropriate heart rate zones for training cycling and running (which are different for running and cycling, with running usually being slightly higher) and create appropriate training plans. Given that Ironman is about endurance, you can create plans and training efforts that keep you in the aerobic zones when you want and the anaerobic zones when you need to.
How did we conduct the testing? I hopped on my coach’s CompuTrainer where we analyzed my pedal stroke, did a few quick bike adjustments then got into the test. The test consisted of two minute segments with each segment increasing in intensity, recording your heart rate until you can’t go any further.
I apologize in advance, my iPhone decided to need a hard reset that day and thus I have no photos and will instead give you this.
The funky peanut looking thing on the right is an analysis of your pedal stroke. Let’s just say mine was a sad, sad, sad peanut. I’ll also spare you my actual results but will share the details on that super amazing record I almost broke: the heart rate record!
That’s right, if my heart rate was only three points higher, I would have broken “the highest heart rate my coach has ever seen” record. Oh joy. I always knew that the first three to four miles were the hardest for me, but that’s because my heart rate was skyrocketing and then it calms back down. Miles five and on for the win!
So tell me, have you ever done lactate threshold testing? Do you train based on heart rate? What amazingly embarrassing record have you broken?