This week I got my physiology report from my lactate threshold test and VO2 max test.
It was interesting and will make a good base from which to develop over the next few months. It will be interesting to then go back at a later date to see if there is any progress in my basic fitness. What it did confirm for me and which I have read about and experienced clearly is the fact that being heavy makes life harder for triathlon. Mainly due to it slowing one down on the run section, something I have had direct and recent experience of. This has given me that extra impetus to go further with nutrition as much as training.
The testing is something that I would suggest would be of good use to any keen athlete, amateur or otherwise and can be easily booked. Have a look at the website and I would strongly recommend it as an experience to learn from:
They are a good team and can give some good practical advice.
For those who are interested (or would like to smile at my suffering) below is the result of my test. The format has not come out perfectly but hopefully is clear enough to read:
Name: Brandon Lewis
Date of test: 17/06/2011
Weight (kg): 108.7
Submaximal Test Profile
Stage 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
Running Speed (Km) 7 7.5 8 8.5 9 9.5 10 10.5 11
Run Pace (min/mile) 13:48 12:52 12:04 11:22 10:44 10:10 09:39 09:12 08:47
Running Economy (ml/kg/km) 220 221 215 214 213 211 215 212 208
Lactate (mM/l) 1.65 1.54 1.69 1.82 1.83 1.9 2.56 3.18 4.17
VO2 (ml/kg/min) 25.7 27.7 28.7 30.3 31.9 33.4 35.9 37.1 38.2
% VO2max 58.5 63.0 65.3 69.0 72.7 76.1 81.7 84.5 87.0
Heart Rate (bpm) 128 133 136 142 145 149 154 159 162
RPE ( Perceived Exertion) 9 11 12 12 13 14 15 16 16
Speed at LT (km/hr) 9.5
HR (bpm) at LT 149
VO2 (ml/kg/min) at LT 33.4
% VO2 at LT 76
Speed at AT (km/hr) 10.5
HR (bpm) at AT 159
VO2 (ml/kg/min) at AT 37.1
% VO2 at AT 85
Maximal Aerobic Assessment
VO2max (ml/kg/min) 43.9
Speed at VO2max (km/hr) 12.2
Max Heart Rate (bpm) 176
Max Blood Lactate (mM/L) 6.57
Speed of Test (km/hr) 9
Test Duration (min) 09:15
Final Gradient (%) 10%
Running Pace RPE
150 – 159 9.5 – 10.5
10.5 – 11.5
12 – 13
9:12 – 8:47
160 – 162
10:10 – 9:12
14 – 16
6.5 7.5 8.5 9.5 10.5 11.5
6.5 7.5 8.5 9.5 10.5 11.5
VO2 (ml/kg/min) Speed (
6.5 7.5 8.5 9.5 10.5 11.5
Congratulations on a great test – it’s not easy when you have a camera on you! The tests can tell you about your current training status, your
running economy and your maximum capability to use oxygen (VO2max). They also highlight areas of strength and weakness, and can be used to
formulate a specific training programme that will address these areas. Subsequent testing would allow us to monitor your progress and evaluate
the effectiveness of your training plan.
Your VO2max was measured at 43.9ml/kg/min. Elite male triathletes tend to have values in the 70s or 80s, whilst good club level triathletes
will be around the 60s and recreational athletes a bit below this. Compared to the general (active but not training) population, your VO2max
puts you just above average for your age. This variable is presented relative to your body weight. If you were to remain at your current fitness
level but reduce your body weight to 100kg, your VO2max would be 47.7ml/kg/min. Whilst VO2max is mainly genetically determined it is likely
you could improve this with the appropriate training. This isn’t a variable that is currently limiting your performance.
Your velocity at VO2max is 12.2km/hr. This is the ideal speed to train at to improve your VO2max and increase running speed at VO2max. It is
calculated from VO2max and running economy and so improvements in these values will improve your velocity at VO2max.
Your running economy ranged from221 – 208ml/kg/km(the lower the number the better), with your economy generally improving as the
running speed increased. Elite endurance athletes will have values around 190-200ml/kg/km,whilst good recreational runners will have values
around 200 – 220ml/kg/km, so this is a good result for you. People tend to be most economical at the speed that they accumulatemost miles
at. Economy becomesmore important the longer the duration of the race, so if you are eventually aiming for an Ironman then this variable
would have a greater impact over the longer distance. The most economical athletes tend to be those who have accumulatedmost miles in
training, and other things that have been shown to improve economy are explosive strength training and incorporating dynamic running drills
into a warm-up routine.
Lactate Threshold and Anaerobic Threshold
Your lactate threshold (LT) occurred at 9.5km/hr with a heart rate of 149 b/min and at 76% VO2max, whilst your anaerobic threshold (AT)
occurred at 10.5km/hr, a heart rate of 159b/min and at 85% of VO2max. Generally the highest sustainable percentages of VO2max at these
points are 80 and 90% respectively. So you have some room to shift both your thresholds to a higher speed before being limited by your
In a relativelywell trained person, the lactate threshold intensity can be sustained for up to ~3hours, whilst the anaerobic threshold can be
sustained for around 60 minutes. Elite triathletes will be able to sustain these intensities for a little longer, whilst someone like yourself with not
much training behind you, might not be able to sustain these intensities for quite as long. Generally a 10k in a triathlon would be run just
above AT. Sustaining an average speed of 10.5km/hr (your AT speed) would give a 10K time of ~57 minutes (although there are obviously lots
of things on the day that will affect the average speed you are able to sustain, eg weather conditions, the course etc). Given that you haven’t
been training for very long the swim and bike will probably take a littlemore out of you, and so you may not be able to sustain this intensity for
57minutes. Therefore at the moment you would probably be looking at a 10K time of a little over an hour.
You can use the training zones table above to guide your training. This gives you several different variables to guide your training (pace, HR,
perceived exertion – see chart below), and the more you can use together the better. For example it may be that you are fatigued and therefore
training using the perceived exertion ratingsmay be more suitable than training by pace or heart rate alone.
To improve your run performance you need to shift your thresholds to occur at higher speeds. Whilst the anaerobic threshold is the one most
relevant to performance over 10km, you would also benefit from working on improving LT to develop your base fitness, upon which you can build
future training. Training to improve LT improves your ability to use fats as a fuel, which is beneficial for endurance performance but also for
Currently you have no particular weaknesses, in that there is nothing in particular limiting your progression. You have room to improve your
thresholds before being limited by your VO2max, and this is because although your VO2max isn’t that high, you are quite economical.
As such, in the lead up to your Olympic distance race at the beginning of August I suggest you focus on trying to improve AT. Looking longer
term, you should aim to build up the amount of running you do around LT to improve this variable (particularly if you decide to aim for an
Ironman), as well as doing a block of work to improve VO2max. Then you would come back round to working on shifting AT up again in
preparation for racing over Olympic or sprint distances.
Some suggestions of training to improve these areas are as follows:
Traditionally improvements in VO2max have been achieved by increased aerobic base levels. There is now more evidence that VO2max can be
improved very effectively by incorporating shorter, higher intensity sessions. Some examples of this type of session would be:
* 5 x 4 minutes at velocity at VO2max pace (ie 12.2km/hr), with 2 – 4 minutes rest. The aim is for each run to be hard but that you can recover
to complete the next rep and the full session.
* 15s on, 15 s off at 90-100%of your velocity at VO2max, followed by 15s at 70-80% of your velocity VO2max, running for up to 10-12mins (
build up this duration as you improve – the aim should be to complete each interval at the correct intensity and you should stop once this drops
* 40s on 20s off: so picking up the pace for a relatively fast but relaxed 40s and then slowing down to a jog for 20s and then speeding up again
for 40s etc – aiming to build up to doing a set of 10 mins, then have a rest (8 – 10 minutes) and repeat.
Improving Lactate Threshold
To improve lactate threshold, long “steady” pace runs lasting at least 40 mins, up to 1 – 1.5 hours at the lower end of the “steady” training zone
(9.5 – 10km/hr) and shorter “steady” paced runs of 20 – 40mins (or blocks of 15/20mins repeated 2/3 times) at the higher end of the training
zone (10 – 10.5km/hr). You can also do long runs broken into blocks of 5 – 10minutes at speeds varying above and below LT. So for your 1
hour runs I suggest you aim to run for 10 minutes just above LT (9.5 – 10km/hr or a heart rate a little over 149b/min), and then 5 minutes just
belowLT (~9km/hr, heart rate below 149) . Repeat this until you have run for an hour. As you improve you can extend the duration that you run
above LT, and keep the duration belowLT to half of the duration spent above LT, or less so that eventually you can run an hour continuously just
Improving Anaerobic Threshold
Again to shift this point you need to run at speeds just above AT with short recovery just below AT speed. So for example higher intensity 20min
“steady” pace runs, working on building up the total time completed at that pace – e.g. 3 x 10mins progressing to 3 x 15mins etc with a minute or
two just below LTP.
Also “tempo” pace runs which can include sets like:
2 x 10mins with 2mins rest – progressing to 3 x 10mins at 14 – 15km/hr
(5mins at 10.5km/hr)
2x (5mins at 11km/hr)
(5mins at 11.5km/hr)
– progressing these speeds/durations as you become fitter.
Your 30 minute runs could consist of:
* 5 – 10 minutes easy warm up followed by 20 minutes in the steady zone (heart rate 150 – 159) – which initially you might want to break down
into 5 or 10minute blocks with a minute or two of easy running inbetween blocks.
* 5 – 10 minutes easy warm up followed by 3 x 5 minute blocks in the tempo zone with a few minutes easy running inbetween.