Run - Heart Rate & Training Pace Setting

  1. Primary objective is to set your run Heart Rate (HR) zones.
  2. Secondary objective is to set your run Training Paces and calculate your equivalent race performances.

Equipment

  • GPS device with Heart Rate Monitor (HRM)
    • Turn off auto-lap
    • Turn off auto-pause
    • Ensure device is set to lowest granularity of data recording e.g. Garmin devices - 1sec recording not Smart Recording

Standard Test Protocol

You must treat this test like a race to get the best results.  You need to be:
  • well hydrated and well fuelled;
  • feeling fresh - not fatigued from previous training sessions;
  • and showing no signs or symptoms of illness.  
Any of these may create adverse results as you will need to run for 30 minutes at your fastest maintainable pace.  This is a tough session.

Complete the run on a route with a flat profile and allows you to run uninterrupted.  For more accurate Training Paces perform the test on a calm day or choose a route that is wind neutral i.e. you experience as much headwind as you do tailwind throughout the entire 30 mins e.g. laps of a field or track - it is not recommended to run the first half into a headwind and the second half with a tail wind or vice versa.

Test Procedure
  1. 10-15 mins - easy jogging
  2. 10 mins - dynamic stretching
  3. 6x20s strides with walk recovery
  4. Start test within 5 mins
  5. Press the start button on your device
  6. Run at your fastest maintainable pace - even paced
  7. 10mins into the test press the lap button on your device
  8. 30mins press the stop button on your device and stop running - note the following:
    • Average HR for the final 20mins - this is an estimation of your Lactate Threshold Heart Rate (LTHR) and use to set your HR Zones
    • Time and distance covered for the entire 30mins - this will be used to determine your Training Paces

HR Zone Setting

Training Paces and Equivalent Race Times

Track Test Protocol for a Coach led, Group session

  1. 10-15 mins - easy jogging
  2. 10 mins - dynamic stretching
  3. 6x20s strides with walk recovery
  4. Start test within 5 mins
  5. Position yourself in speed order on the track so that you can quickly and easily filter into the inside lane
  6. On the first whistle, press the start button on your device and run at your fastest maintainable pace - even paced
  7. Run in the inside lane unless you are overtaking
  8. Count your own laps unless there are lap counters present
  9. On the second whistle, at 10mins, press the lap button on your device
  10. On the third whistle, complete the lap you are on
  11. As you cross the finish line press the stop button and note the following:
    • Average HR for the final 20mins - this is an estimation of your Lactate Threshold Heart Rate (LTHR) and use to set your HR Zones
    • Time and number of laps completed for duration of the test - this will be used to determine your Training Paces

Why you run for a complete number of laps

Your GPS device is used as a recording device of time and HR – distance is measured using the track.   Ignore pace and distance as GPS devices are not accurate on the track unless you have a properly calibrated footpod.  I have seen GPS distance to be anywhere between -100m to +400m than the actual distance.

Problems in calculating LTHR and Training Paces

The accuracy by which this test can estimate your LTHR depends on whether you have managed to run at your fastest maintainable pace for the duration of the test.  Athletes who are not experienced at 5k / 10k running can find it be difficult to judge the effort required and they may push too hard or not hard enough.

The most common observations are:
  • athletes start too hard and then their effort tails off; or
  • athletes are unable to push themselves hard enough during the test and their heart rate is constantly rising.
The result is that the average heart rate of the last 20mins will provide an estimation of your LTHR which is likely be below your actual LTHR.  If this is the case then it is likely the distance covered during the test will also be below the best you could achieve.

If the HR profile looks like the graph below then the average HR for the final 20 mins should provide a good estimate of LTHR.

If the HR profile looks like below then deeper analysis of the data may provide a better estimate of LTHR

Coach estimation of LTHR ($10)

For this I require the following information and I will analyse and interpret your data to refine your estimate of LTHR and provide you with your Heart Rate Training Zones / Training Paces:
  • device raw data file for test session (which should contain time, distance and HR) - these can be exported from Garmin Connect, Strava etc.;
  • the actual distance you ran if not using GPS distance;
  • your most recent 5k and 10k best times and the device data files if you have them.
For athletes on a Coaching Package this analysis and the provision of both your HR Training Zones and Training Paces is included in your monthly fee.

The output of this exercise will be a single sheet with all the relevant data - click here for an example