I’m heading out bright and early this morning for a fun new adventure. BSX Athletics is a local company (remember the app I shared a few weeks ago?) and they have invited our running group to come to the lab for free lactate threshold testing as part of a study they’re conducting to better understand the physiologic adaptations of endurance training.
We were supposed to avoid intense exercise for the last 48 hours, so I moved my long run to Friday and taught spin as usual on Saturday. I couldn’t resist taking my new Mizuno Sayonara’s out for a short recovery run yesterday, but I kept it nice and easy. My legs should be fresh today!
What is my Lactate Threshold?
The lactate threshold is refers to the intensity of exercise at which there is an abrupt increase in blood lactate levels. Research has shown that the lactate threshold occurs at 80-90% of heart rate reserve (HRR) in trained individuals and at 50-60% HRR in untrained individuals.
In simple terms, as you run faster, you create more and more lactate. At a certain point, the body produces lactate faster than the body can remove it and you are forced to slow down.
How is the testing done?
In a lab, tests are performed on a treadmill and blood samples are taken from finger pricks to measure blood lactate concentration, heart rate, power output and VO2 to determine where the lactate threshold is.
Why do LT testing?
Your lactate threshold is approximately your 10k pace, or the pace at which you can sustain a hard racing effort for 40-60 minutes. However, the only way to have an accurate measure is through Lactate Threshold Testing.
Using your lactate threshold to determine your pace efforts is one of the best ways to improve performance in endurance events.
How to train with your LT?
By training at your LT, you can slowly become more efficient at that pace and push your threshold to a faster pace over time, which will result in better race results. The “tempo run” is a popular tool to train at your lactate threshold. Many plans incorporate it weekly.
Greg Mcmillan prefers full spectrum latate training, where you perform tempo runs at your low-end (marathon pace), middle (half marathon pace) and high end (10k pace). He emphasizes variety for better adaptations.
I’ve never done LT testing before, so I’m excited. I estimate lactate threshold for the athletes I’m coaching based on their recent race results and use that number for their goal tempo pace and incorporate it in my training as well.
By the way, there are a few ways to do this test on your own (without a lab). An article in Triathlon Competitor states:
For running, there are a variety of methods you can use to determine your running LT with the help of a GPS device. One method is to run a 10K race and determine your average pace (min/mile) and heart rate for the entire race—this will produce a fairly accurate estimation of running LT. An alternate method is to run hard for 20 to 30 minutes on a moderately flat course and again monitor your heart rate and pace. Pay particular attention to your breathing. When it becomes labored for the first time, you have most likely reached your LT.
The timing is perfect, as I’ll be starting marathon training in just two weeks and can adjust my training schedule and paces accordingly. My most recent 10k pace was 6:50, so I’m guessing my threshold will be somewhere around a 7 minute mile. I’ll report back with my results later this week!
Do you know what your LT is? Have you incorporated tempo runs regularly in your training?