10K sub 40 min, week 9 report: intensity of training

Skjermbilde 2013-03-04 kl. 22.06.40
Got my running kick-started last week by testing my anaerobic threshold at work. Pleased to say my results were better than expected, but with heaps of room for improvement. Only got in two runs this week. To blame: skiing conditions that were too good not to make use of while winter is still here.

On anerobic threshold and its significance
The anaerobic threshold serves a an indicator of the working capacity of your body, technique and muscles in the specific movement pattern tested. In other words, how fast can you run, cycle or ski before accumulating lactic acid (produce more lactic acid than your body can get rid of at the same time). Knowing your anaerobic threshold, or rather at what pace, puls rate and feeling it occurs can be a significant help in deciding the correct intensity of your training.

By experience, this is usually reached at lower paces than what most people expect. The result beeing that many train at intensities harder than what they intend. While this might not be a bad thing for the average couch potato, it can significantly influence the results (negatively) for those who put in a higher number of hours. The pitfall is not getting enough recovery time between workouts. And higher intensity means longer recovery.

My results, aerobic threshold at:
Heart rate: 185 (my max HR 215-ish, highest recorded 213)
Speed: 11,1 km/h (3% incline)

About endurance training and intensity
I am accustomed to a intensity-system of Olympiatoppen (organisation with executive responsibility for the training and results of the Norwegian olympic athletes). For the purpose of endurance training, this system divides intensity into 5 zones (1-5).

Zone 5: HR 92-97% of max (15-30 min)
Zone 4: HR 87-92% of max (30-50 min)
Zone 3: HR 82-87% of max (50-90 min)
Zone 2: HR 72-82% of max (1-3 hours)
Zone 1: HR 60-72% of max (1-6 hours)

Times in brackets reflect total time spent in given intensity per workout. It is worth noting that the given values are guidelines only, and should ideally be correlated with lactic acid values. Consideration should also be made to individual differences, terrain and surface. For instance, the relationship between lactic acid accumulation and heart rate will usually change between flats and hills, and there are great individual differences as to the amplitude of these changes.

In my opinion, the use of lactic acid measuring in daily training is both expensive and overkill for anything but elite athletes. However, doing a test to learn to know the feeling of your threshold can be of great value.

In plain speaking, intensity 1 could be termed “easy”, intensity 3 “moderate” and intensity 5 “hard”. Consider intensity 2 and 4 as “in between” easy-moderate and moderate-hard. Practical examples of workouts in the different zones would be:

Zone 1: Easy run for 1,5 hours. Mostly low intensity, no difficulty chatting while running.
Zone 3: Intervals 5*10 minutes. Moderate pace, the distance of each interval should take you the same amount of time for each interval. You should always feel “in control” of not having your legs burning.
Zone 5: Intervals 6*3 minutes. Fast pace, push yourself to the limit. You’re supposed to be seriously tired after each interval. However, your lactic acid levels should not exceed that which allows you to finish the last interval in the same time/distance travelled as the first.

My plan regarding intensity
Given the course and distance of Sentrumsløpet (10 km, rather flat, but with some rolling hills), zone 3-intervals will make up the bulk of my high intensity workouts. My rationale for this is that the race time (approx. 40 min) will probably give a running pace closer to intensity 3, than 4 or 5. I do however, believe that to increase your capacity in one zone, you will have to involve some traing in the neighbouring higher zones. So zone 4 will also be included, 5 probably not so much. (If the time frame was different, this would probably have changed somewhat)

Exercise diary week 9
Monday: Anerobic threshold test, running. 50 min total (intensity 1-4)
Tuesday: Back and leg strengthening exercises (more about these to come)
Wednesday: Rest
Thursday: 50 min run (intensity 1-2)
Friday: Cross country skiing, 2 hours skate (intensity 1)
Saturday: Rest. HUGE wintersport-day on tv :)
Sunday: Cross country skiing, 4 hours skate (intensity 1)

Do you consider the degree of intensity in your training? If so, how do you control it?

References:
Ingjer F, Hem E, Leirstein S. Metabolism in physical activity. Norwegian School of Sports Science 2010.
Olympiatoppen.no

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