Tagged: functional threshold
March 3, 2021 at 11:29 am #10750
I started my IRONMAN lvl 2 bike-power/run-pace plan on February 15. While I definitely spent the first two weeks working hard to get back in shape, I feel like I’m slowly outpacing my FT levels I set at the beginning of the plan. How do I know when and by how much to adjust my FT levels for both running and biking, if the training plan doesn’t call for any FTP sets? I have used the TSS vs. hrTSS comparison in TrainingPeaks before, where if my hrTSS is significantly below my TSS, I would increase my FT level, but I figured there must be a better/more accurate way of doing it. Thanks!March 4, 2021 at 6:50 am #10767
I think I’m able to answer my own question by now (but would like confirmation if possible). Looks like the “rest” weeks have RT or CT workouts in them. So I guess I should do the FTP test during those workouts to reestablish my zones? ThanksMarch 5, 2021 at 4:55 pm #10812David WardenKeymaster
Sorry for the delayed response. You are correct, the rest weeks are designated for testing with either the STT, CT and RT workouts or the other protocols listed in our document Intensity Guidelines for Triathlon, and I’ve included the relevant section from that document below for your convenience:
Because your fitness level and lactate threshold can change quickly, it’s important to keep your thresholds and zones current throughout the training process by retesting your lactate threshold every few weeks. Repeating your chosen field test in every recovery week (recovery weeks fall ever third or fourth week in our 80/20 Triathlon plans) is the theoretical ideal. As a practical matter, however, this is onerous for many athletes.
Fortunately, your 80/20 training plan includes Swim Time Trial (STT), Cycling Tempo (CT), and Running Tempo (RT) workouts that may serve as zone testing sessions. Most of these sessions feature Zone 3 effort that are less than 20 minutes in duration. Advanced athletes can replace these workouts with the 20-minute time trial described above. Another option is to use the “backing in” method of verifying running threshold pace or cycling or running threshold power. Because LTHR changes less than TP and rFTP over the course of a training plan, you can retest either of these variables in the context of CT and RT workouts featuring Zone 3 efforts as short as 10 minutes by adjusting your effort until your heart rate levels off at your previously determined LTHR and observing the pace or wattage that corresponds to it.
Alternatively, the Talk Test can be performed during any Foundation Run or Recovery Run whenever you feel that you have “outgrown” your current zones and act as a provisional threshold until more formal testing can be done.
Also note that if you are an intermediate- or advanced-level athlete and you use heart rate as your primary intensity metric, you probably don’t need to update your zones very often. This is because LTHR doesn’t change a lot with changes in fitness once you’re past the beginner (or starting-over) phase. What you will find as you gain fitness is that you run faster and faster at the same heart rates. Indeed, one simple way to update your pace or power zones is to do a test where you run at your current known LTHR and identify the corresponding pace/power, then plug this number into the appropriate calculator. For example, if you know that your LTHR is consistently stable at 160 BPM but you notice that you’re running faster at any given HR lately, do a run where you lock into a heart rate of 160 BPM and note the corresponding pace/power. Say your pace is 7:07/mile at this HR. This, then, is your approximate Threshold Pace. It’s best to do this particular test within the context of a scheduled run that targets Zone 3.
Note that CT and RT sessions occur less frequently in the L2 and L3 plans because 1) the high volume of these plans makes frequent high-intensity/high-duration testing risky, 2) we assume advanced athletes have a longer training history and are already confident in their lactate threshold, and 3) advanced athletes tend to experience smaller changes in lactate threshold than do beginner athletes. But if you ever feel you’re “outgrowing” your zones, feel free to insert one of the easier testing options into your next recovery week if it does not already contain a CT or RT session.
DavidMarch 8, 2021 at 6:30 am #10881
Thanks, coach! Another question on zone 2 during different types of workouts. During my CAn6 workout yesterday, I tried to keep my power output during the 80 min Z2 work in the end the same as during the CF9 workout a few days prior, but my HR was probably 10 bpm higher during the CAn Z2 than during the CF9 Z2. What’s more important here? To keep the power output similar and allow HR to drift higher, because I’m doing it on more tired legs after those anaerobic intervals, or keep HR comparable to the CF9 work and allow power to drop to low Z2/high Z1? this will be helpful for the rest of my plan no doubt. Thanks!March 9, 2021 at 9:33 am #10906David WardenKeymaster
Several pieces of best-practice at play here:
– Going into a workout, it helps if you decide the purpose of the workout in advance. It may not even be MY purpose, as the plan author. You decide the purpose, and it may change based on your goals, abilities, and fatigue. Clearly, the purpose of the Zone 1-2 runs is to put in the easy as part of the 80/20 system. For interval workouts, the purpose becomes more complex. For the CAn/RAn workouts, for example, the purpose is to elevate baseline VO2. Therefore, the interval itself is critical. The warmup, rest interval, and cool down become secondary. What does this mean? It means that you don’t need to worry about maintaining Zone 2 in a CAn/RAn workout, you can drop it to Zone 1 at any time to support the interval (or because of the interval)! In fact, I walk the first 2 minutes of the 5-minute RAn recovery. That’s well below Zone 1! But, the purpose of the workout is to destroy those Zone 4 intervals, so I walk a couple of minutes to fully recover. One of my colleagues tells the story of passing me when I was walking when he was out for a ride and I was out for a run. He thought, “Walking? Man, David is weak.” That Saturday, I won the Olympic event and he changed his mind about 80/20 training (and became a triathlon world-record holder as my client). Bottom line is: you can go easier than Zone 2 in interval workouts.
– Use Power as your primary, not HR. Don’t try and mix the two, it will just drive you crazy. Cardiac drift is amplified by Zone 3 and higher. HR will always drift higher or a given power output, but intervals make it even worse. That’s why power is better than HR: there is no “wattage drift”. Let your HR drift and use power. Or better yet, use power and don’t even look at HR.
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