Threshold pace differences in trail runs vs. road runs | 80/20 Endurance

Threshold pace differences in trail runs vs. road runs

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    Marisa Iceberg

    Hello! I’d love some guidance with my threshold pacing/zones.

    I did a 30 minute TT to determine my threshold pace less than a month ago. It was on my treadmill with a 1% incline. According to my results, my threshold pace is 9:09 min/mile (my watch recorded a bit faster, but I’m going off what my treadmill said).

    The resulting zones feel good when running my usual neighborhood routes on pavement, but I do spend about half my training trail running (definitely my preferred outlet, but I can’t always make the drive there). My pace zones on trails feel too strenuous. Especially when there’s a lot of undulating hills and tricky footing.

    My question is, should I adjust my pace threshold in trainingpeaks to reflect the terrain (road vs. trail) before every run? In which case, I’d need to do a time trial on the trails? I’m not sure how the pace flip-flopping would work with my Garmin and whether it would update the paces efficiently.

    Thank you for your help!

    David Warden

    Marisa, this is a great scenario to share with the forums.

    For all my complaints about using HR to measure intensity, hills are the exception where it is superior to Pace. Clearly, Pace assumes a relatively flat environment.

    Take your peak 20 minute HR from your last test on the treadmill, add 5 beats, and use that as your outdoor LTHR. When in hills, use HR as primary. If you were to do a hills threshold pace test, it would still not work as it would be different every time in a slightly different set of hills.

    This is where Power is the ultimate intensity measure. Power can be used over hills and flats and is superior to Pace and HR.


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