Run Assessment Results – Personalized Heart Rate Training Zones

I recently posted about my run fitness assessment at the Peak Centre for Human Performance.  The results of the fitness assessment include personalized heart rate training zones and carbohydrate fuelling during training. But first, let’s walk through the methodology:

Screen Shot 2013-07-31 at 11.41.28 AM

Here’s a handy little graphic that shows us what Heart Rate training zone (Z1, Z2, Z3 etc)  we should be training in for which types of races.  Since I’m training for a marathon, I should mostly run within my Zone 1 training zone.  Why? According to this chart, if I run in Zone 1, I will remain under my aerobic threshold, which should allow me to run for a longer duration without depleting all my energy sources and overwhelming my body with lactic acid.

What’s the aerobic threshold? Why is it important?

In this case the aerobic threshold is where my body goes from primarily using aerobic (in the presence of oxygen) energy pathways to anaerobic (without oxygen) energy pathways. When my body is primarily using the aerobic energy pathways, it is using oxygen to produce ATP to fuel my run. The aerobic system is considered the “long duration energy system”.

My Baseline Curve

As I mentioned, I ran on a treadmill and they recorded my heart rate, speed and took a blood sample every three minutes to measure the lactate in my blood. Here are my results in graph form:

Screen Shot 2013-07-31 at 11.41.39 AM

The idea is that over time, with training, my blue curve should move to the right. Therefore, my body will be able to run faster and produce less lactate and a lower heart rate for each speed. I’ll likely go back and get tested in October, after the Montreal marathon to see how effective my training was and what I need to improve on for my second stage of training – training for the Antarctica Marathon.

What’s the lactate threshold? 

Take a look at the curve above.  My lactate threshold was assessed to be at 4 mmol/l as after that point lactate accumulated in my blood very quickly. In this case, lactate threshold is defined as the point when lactic acid starts to accumulate in the bloodstream. According to Wikipedia:

“This happens when lactate is produced faster than it can be removed (metabolized) in the muscle. When exercising at or below the LT, any lactate produced by the muscles is removed by the body without it building up.”

Being a marathon runner, I don’t want huge accumulation of lactic acid in my bloodstream. That could stop me in my tracks.

Areas for Improvement 

Screen Shot 2013-08-01 at 3.38.19 PM

On the left we have the average limits as percentage of VO2 max as defined by sports physiological standards today. The right, shows my limits as percentage of VOmax. What does this mean – well? Since I’m below the limit thresholds for both aerobic threshold and lactate threshold I should see performance improvements if I train them directly.

Personalized Heart Rate Training Zones

The physiologists at the Peak Centre for Human Performance used my testing data to create personalized heart rate training zones.  I must admit, the heart rate range for Zone 1 was higher than I expected it and I have been training with a lower heart rate – average HR closer to 140 on my LSD runs. Glad I got tested because now I have accurate ranges to work with.

Screen Shot 2013-07-31 at 11.42.02 AM

Updated training plan

I’ve got all this great data to work with. What’s the plan? Well, remember the bit above when I said I would see the most performance increases if I train the aerobic threshold and lactate threshold directly? So here’s the plan:

  • Train the aerobic threshold – 3 x Zone 1 workouts per week. Use heart rate to monitor exertion. Must all be >40 minutes in duration.
  • Train the lactate threshold – 1 x Zone 3 workout per week. Use treadmill and speed as a guide, not heart rate. Must be between 30-40 minutes in duration.

Added Bonus – Carbohydrate Replenishment Table

As an added bonus, I have this handy personalized carbohydrate replenishment table as a guide to re-fuelling during exercise. I must admit, I have not been consuming nearly as much carbohydrate as I should be.

Screen Shot 2013-07-31 at 11.41.47 AM

To give you an idea, most gels have about 25 grams of carbohydrate per package, and honey zingers have 40 grams of carbohydrate per package. So, on a 3 hour training run I need to target consuming over six energy gels! I will have to work with this over time to get my stomach to take in that much food.

Alright, I have 8 weeks until the Montreal Rock n Roll marathon. Time to make the most of training.

Happy Training!

One Reply to “Run Assessment Results – Personalized Heart Rate Training Zones”

  1. Great post! I’ve been meaning to start reading on HR Zone training, and maybe actually train by it someday.. this post came in perfect timing, and it was very interesting to read. Thanks.
    And by the way, I am so impressed you are running the Antartica marathon, wow!

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