Request for Talk Test Validation | 80/20 Endurance

Request for Talk Test Validation

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    David Warden

    80/20 Community,

    Matt and I are excited about rolling out our new 2021 Edition Run plans. They will be announced in our next newsletter. These have been completely overhauled from the ground up. A part of these new plans includes updated documentation and a new testing protocol: the Talk Test.

    We’d love you feedback on this new test, which we feel is incredibly accurate and not nearly as severe as the 30-minute TT.

    To try it, visit our updated Intensity Guidelines for Running document and scroll down to the Talk Test section. Enter your results in the respective Talk Test field at the Zone Calculator and compare the results with your current zones. How close are they? Maybe even try using the 80/20 zones identified by the Talk Test for a few weeks and see if they more accurately reflect the intensities you can maintain.

    Note that we don’t yet have the Talk Test field in the calculator for Pace. This is coming soon. However, you can still complete the Talk Test protocol and reverse-engineer the Threshold Pace field by entering values until the top of Zone 2 equals your result from the Talk Test.

    Thanks for your consideration!



    I did a 30 minute run this morning. While it was not exactly to the protocol you outlined, it was a social run where we are constantly talking and so a good chance to test out your idea.

    My pace average was flat for the first and second halves of the run, and my average heart rate during second half of the run at the top end of my 80/20 Zone 2. (I check this regularly, an idea I gleaned from Fridel’s Heart Rate Training book as a gauge for fitness). My result tells me that I am fit and today’s “test” should be valid.

    Speaking comfortably is a difficult concept to zero in on. During the second half of my run I was able to comfortably speak for a couple of paragraphs, but I was welcoming a brief opportunity to stay quiet.

    My impression is that the Talk Test will be an excellent method to establish LTHR for fit runners. I would suggest a more comprehensive description of what speaking comfortably actually means (maybe a video?).

    Matt Fitzgerald

    Thanks for the feedback, Charles. In the study that this protocol comes from, “comfortable” was not defined for subjects. That’s where “not sure” comes in. Everyone knows when they are SURE they can speak comfortably. Say something out loud right now. Were you able to do so comfortably? Are you sure? Thought so! If you’re not sure, you’re not sure. No problem–that just counts as “no.”

    I like the video suggestion. We can use it to explain what I just explained here. Thanks again for taking the time to do (a version of) the test.


    Gonna do this test tomorrow !! … last few runs have been paces of 11:15-12:00 and other than leg fatigue I felt like the zone 2 was about 148-152bpm. Such a BORING pace the zone 2 … you wouldn’t think running slow would be so hard .. LOL … I think I need a 3 mile at zone 3.5 … I miss the just “running” sometimes

    Matt Fitzgerald

    We look forward to hearing how the test goes. Personally, I don’t find Zone 2 running boring at all. It’s an acquired taste for many. Also, if you love running fast, doing 80 percent of your running in Zone 2 will allow you to run faster the other 20 percent of the time. Runners who always run kind of hard never run really hard!


    I didn’t mean to seem like it was boring per se, but I’ve only been doing 8020 about three weeks and that’s getting back to running after about six months off. So it’s just different. It’s hard for someone who’s used to running at a 9 1/2 to 10 pace just slow themselves to an 1115 to 1145. I’m sure once I get an a little better shape my 1115 zone 2 pace will be more like a 1030 or 1015 zone 2 pace and then I will be running happy once again. LOL


    Four weeks playing with the Talk Test idea. I like it.

    First, I reserve one day a week for rest/recovery which usually means a social run when I put the math aside and gear running to the slowest member of the group. I now listen closely to the breathing of my companions and adjust accordingly. If I’ve latched on to a stronger runner I share what I have learned here and in most cases we have a common goal whether it in “feet on the ground” for the stronger runners or aerobic training for the beginners.

    Second, since my daily runs include rolling hills, getting in tune with breathing is a much better indication of effort than either heart rate or pace. It’s not a replacement for pacing during a race build up, but for for the bread an butter foundation runs I think it is is superior.

    I found the Talk Test calculator on your resource page to be an accurate estimation for my running thresholds.

    Always looking for the next weak link; the last couple of runs I’ve been playing with breathing, light hyperventilation to expel CO2 from the lungs to minimize any oxygen debt as I approach the short steep hills. I *think* there is some advantage, but perhaps you have some experience or research to share on breathing for runners?

    Matt Fitzgerald

    Thanks for the feedback, Charles. I’m glad the Talk Test is working out for you. As a general rule, I believe that runners should not consciously intervene in processes they are fully capable of performing automatically, and that includes breathing. Studies have shown that running economy decreases when runners think about their breathing while they run, even if they make no effort to change their breathing.

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