Time to Recalculate?


For the past year, my tested and verified Lactic Threshold Heart Rate (LTHR) has been 157 beats per minute (bpm).  Time and time again, my runs have proven that to be true, not only during workouts, but also during tests to verify that value.

The tests are pretty straightforward, since I use Joe Friel’s Running LTHR test protocol – 1) warm up well, 2) run as fast as you can as a 30 minutes time trial (if you start to slow down towards the end, you’ve gone out too fast and you’ve “failed” the test), 3) measure the average heart rate for the last 20 minutes of the 30 minute run.  This average heart rate is the calculated LTHR.

Anyway, today’s PT session at work was a simple 30-minutes out, 30-minutes back run.  So that is typically a seven mile run, more or less.  Actually, regardless of whether we’ve reached 30-minutes or not, we turn around at a specific stop sign that gives us seven miles.

Luckily that PT session coincided with my scheduled workout today, which was “Warm up for about 15 minutes raising heart rate to 10 bpm below Lactate threshold heart rate (LTHR). Then start 1 mile at 9-11 bpm below LTHR. (recover for 400m). 1.5 miles all out”.  Well, I didn’t quite execute it that way.

Out to the stop sign (28:54 for 3.5 miles), I did keep to the plan, keeping the pace at a very conversational 8:30/mile pace and the HR at 145 bpm.

On the way out to that stop sign, I mentioned to my running partner that I intended (keeping with the scheduled training session) to “puke at some point on the way back”.  His response, once the comment sunk in, was “Great.  That means I’ll be way behind you and doing the same thing”.  But at least I warned him.

So we hit the turnaround and enjoyed the slight downhill for the first 200 yards.  Then the pace picked up.  I was motivated, since there were three guys ahead of me.  The oldest of the three is 13 years my junior, the youngest is 17 years my junior.

It was time to school the young’uns.

And they were about a minute ahead of us at the turn around.

A steady acceleration and I was quickly at my 10K race pace and I started reeling them in.  In about five minutes, I had covered over 3/4 of a mile and caught all three of them.  One heard me approaching, looked over at his shoulder with a surprised look on his face, then groaned when I laughed and told them them that they made it too easy.  His groan was because he knew that he’d have to try and keep up.

A few strides later and they were all left behind.  I never looked back to see how they were holding up, but they fell behind quickly.  Nothing like crushing their young spirits.  ;^)

So I had to run my workout.  I kept up the pressure, working on my time-trial focus as well as turnover.  In those last 20-minutes I covered 2.7 miles, which works out to a 7:26/mile pace.  Not too shabby.  But that takes into account my having to stop for traffic as well as a couple of good hills.  My average HR during that 20-minutes was 160-bpm, which is three bpm over my LTHR.

Technically I shouldn’t have been able to hold that pace for that long.

And reality told me that had the course been 100 yards longer, I wouldn’t have held that pace.  If 157 bpm was my LTHR, then I should have been accumulating lactic acid in my legs at a faster rate than I could flush it out.  But at no point during that run did my legs burn, which would be indicative of a lactic acid buildup.  Matter of fact, all the way through the end, my legs felt good.

But I guarantee you that the last mile was touch and go for everything else.  I have not pushed myself that hard for that long in quite a while.  The last half mile was a lightheaded, dizzy few minutes.  I actually started to worry that I was going to lose it all and be found in a lump on the side of the road.

Now that would teach the young’uns.

But I didn’t back off.  I was hell-bent on pushing myself through the finish.

And I’m glad it came when it did.

Because I almost puked.

Here’s the data (click for details):

Running 4-9-2009, Heart rate - Time

So the hard data:

3.5 miles out in 28:54

3.5 miles in in 25:51

Damn that hurt.

So good.

Especially when I had to wait another four minutes for the next guy to finish.

T-15 days until the Country Music Marathon.


5 thoughts on “Time to Recalculate?”

  1. Wow! That was a great run. Your return trip reminds me why I hate 5K’s. I hate that feeling of being on the verge of being out of control, puking, collapsing. But when I’m finished and I’ve given a real effort, it’s like you said— it hurts… so good.

    Way to school the young ‘uns.

  2. Great stuff!

    Seems that you’re set to peak very nicely. Perhaps too late to reliably confirm new LTHR with taper time upon you. Maybe stick with your previously established LTHR number in forming your race plan for the first half of the CMM, and then pick up a few beats on the second half if it feels suitable.

    (I think Friel would have us recalculating every month!)

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