Monday, January 18, 2010


Coach, Barry, and I headed to the home of WFU football to perform some field tests designed to estimate lactate threshold.  The REAL equiment, found in most exercise science labs, is not cheap - and purveyors of said equipment long ago realized that a nice way to make some spare moolah is to coax aspiring athletes into their hurt lockers for some serious testing...for a price.

Fortunately for us, Coach knows what she's doing (from a book-smart standpoint) and has some experience with this from her days in graduate school at JMU.  The goal:  use a 20-minute field test to estimate our lactate thresholds, thus allowing more specific heart-rate based interval training.

We're doing this now because I've moved out of the "base miles" part of training and into a mixed section designed to increase my anaerobic capacity as well as my aerobic base.  In basic terms, the ability to motor at a moderate pace and then sprint for 2 minutes are not exactly extensions of the same training:  one has to be specific to develop specific skills and tolerances.

Thus planned, Barry and I rode to Groves Stadium for a warm-up then test-rode the course.  Apart from a wet corner on the low end and an acute turn at the top, it was pretty much a good shot at going wide open.  The goal, according to Coach, was to go as hard as possible, but at a pace that could be sustained for 20 minutes.  I knew chances were good I'd overshoot or undershoot at times and have to correct, but the 20 minute length of the trial would control that variable. 

According to formulas (reviewed since the event), all was predicted.  For the first 5 minutes I felt smooth and stable, followed by a wave of muscle fatigue at around 7 minutes.  I backed off just a hair, and returned to a painful, but tolerable state until about the 16 minute mark, when I then had to concentrate quite a bit more to hold my effort at the required level.   I noticed my speed falling off by about 1mph on the slightly inclined section, and a decrease of similar amount into the downhill headwind.  Here I am taking the low, wet corner and heading up the slight incline.

All in all, I think I probably undershot the effort just a bit because I wasn't completely wiped out at the end.  That is probably due to recent rides in the 2-3 hour range, and it's been a long time since my last criterium (usually 30-45 minutes).   That is to say, I've forgotten how to pin it for 20 minutes and 20 minutes only.

Barry and I cooled down, discussed the pain that is a lactate threshold field test, and debriefed with Coach.  This bit of work will probably result in modifications to my training schedule, now that we know how to set up training zones and interval efforts. 

I previously planned to do an off-road ride on Thursday night, but weather is looking iffy, so I might up the schedule and hit Salem Lake tomorrow night and a rainy road ride on Thursday night.  Stay tuned...


Northstar Bikes said...

That last photo is very indicative of the effort. We both have the thousand yard stare going.

Chancey said...

Tell Jill Mitch, Dr. Rob, Duane, Whitney, me, etc all want out LT testing and training zones. Set up the time and I'm there. C'mon don't hold out!!

BroBlast said...

Yes -- I want that too!

Coach -- get out the calculator!

JiLliJ said...

Alright, mafiosas! Pick the day and time, and we'll have a CLM Field Day, lactate style. Just let me know...

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