Lost Progress on Threshold Test - Next Step? | 80/20 Endurance

Lost Progress on Threshold Test – Next Step?

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    Hey everyone, I’m looking for some advice after my recent threshold test, where I backslid a bit. Sorry in advance that this is a long post!

    A bit of background. I found out about and read the 80/20 running book back in April while I was training for a half-marathon on a different plan. I did my initial test back on 5/2/21 and this was my first retest. After I tested last time, I continued on the plan I was on for the half, trying to incorporate some of the concepts (doing easy runs and long runs on that other plan within the zones suggested for foundational and long runs), but wasn’t fully on one of the plans here yet.

    The half-marathon was 5/16, then I started the 80/20 maintenance plan to fill the gap between that and an 18 week Marathon Level 1 plan, which starts tomorrow. The zones felt appropriate so far, the easy runs felt easy and the workouts seemed appropriately challenging. I did mix it up just a bit to add in a 4 mile race near the end of May, since it was the first in person race here since COVID, and I didn’t want to miss out.

    So anyway, I retested today (20 min test protocol), and it seems like I’m heading the wrong way. It was much hotter today (low 90s) then when I did my last test (mid 70s). It was moderately windy both days, but not too different. I ran this one on a track, where the last one was along sidewalks (still flat). I also erroneously assumed I was going to improve, so I started out too fast and slowed significantly in the second half of the time trial portion. Results were as follows based on the site calculators:

    Power (Stryd) – 238 (old), 225 (new)
    Pace – 9:36 (old), 10:02 (new)
    HR – 187 (old), 191 (new)

    Power is what I actually use to determine zones during runs, but I measure all 3 during the test.

    The 4 mile race I did a couple weeks ago was an average pace of 9:10, so I know that I can hold a faster pace than this under better conditions (race was low 80s) for nearly twice as long, though race day adrenaline certainly helps. I don’t feel at all less fit right now than I was at that point, and I have been sticking with the maintenance plan without issue.

    So with all that info, my question is what I should do going forward. I don’t want to start off the marathon plan on the wrong foot, as this will be my first full marathon. A couple thoughts I had were:
    -Use the new zones
    -Continue to use the old zones, retest later as suggested during the plan
    -Retest under better conditions sometime sooner

    Let me know what would be the best way to go forward (including anything I didn’t think of). Thanks for taking the time to read this!


    Hello Ben,
    As a fellow athlete runner (not an expert), I understand your frustration. As far as a recommendation, I would lean strongly towards retesting in better conditions, targeting the conditions under which you will spend most of your training. The heat really affects me as well, and I would definitely not do a threshold test in 91 degree weather if I could avoid it. As a matter of fact, I did my threshold test under 80 degree conditions, with a heat index of 83. It felt fine, but I wouldn’t do it in much hotter weather.
    In addition, I would like to wish you the best on your upcoming marathon. It will be a big accomplishment to complete your first marathon, and I plan on running my first full marathon this year or next year.

    David Warden


    A few thoughts:

    – The Maintenance plan is not designed to improve performance, it’s designed to Maintain a reasonable level of fitness. Your results are within the margin I would expect for the Maintenance plan. You *can* improve on the Maintenance plan, but it’s not designed to.
    – Don’t panic after one test that goes the wrong way. After 3 tests, something is amiss, but after one, no problem.
    – Yes, 20 degrees is night and day to performance and HR. It can’t really be compared.

    I recommend you stick with the plan, and I predict in 6 weeks (two test cycles) you’ll see a good improvement if tested in reasonable conditions.


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