Threshold training, also known as aerobic or endurance training, is a type of running that involves maintaining a comfortably hard pace, which is slightly faster than a leisurely pace but not as fast as all-out effort.
Threshold Training in running is a form of exercise that focuses on running at an intensity right below the point at which lactate starts to accumulate rapidly in the blood. This point is often referred to as the lactate threshold or anaerobic threshold. Training at this intensity improves a runner's ability to run faster for longer periods by increasing the efficiency of the body's energy systems.
Understanding Lactate Threshold: Lactate threshold represents the exercise intensity at which lactate (a byproduct of glucose breakdown under anaerobic conditions) begins to accumulate in the bloodstream. This accumulation occurs when the production of lactate exceeds the body's ability to clear it, typically leading to muscle fatigue and decreased performance.
BENEFITS OF THRESHOLD TRAINING
- Increased Stamina: Helps runners maintain a fast pace for longer durations without fatigue.
- Improved Running Economy: Enhances the efficiency of the body in using oxygen and energy sources.
- Lactate Clearance: Improves the body's ability to process and clear lactate, delaying the onset of fatigue.
TYPES OF THRESHOLD TRAINING
- Tempo Runs: Steady runs at a controlled, hard effort, usually lasting 20 to 40 minutes.
- Cruise Intervals: Shorter intervals at threshold pace with brief periods of rest or easy running in between.
- Fartlek Training: Incorporates periods of faster running into a longer, continuous run.
Determining Threshold Pace: Threshold pace is typically a pace a runner can maintain for about an hour - often equated to the pace for a 10K or a half marathon race. It can be identified through physiological testing, perceived effort (usually a “comfortably hard” pace), or specific formulas based on race times.
INCORPORATING THRESHOLD TRAINING INTO YOUR RUNNING TRAINING
- Regular Inclusion: Threshold workouts should be included regularly in a training plan, but not excessively, to avoid overtraining.
- Progressive Overload: Gradually increasing the duration or intensity of threshold workouts helps to continuously challenge the body.
- Balance with Other Training: Threshold training should be balanced with easy runs, long runs, and interval workouts for overall endurance and speed development.
CONSIDERATIONS AND PRECAUTIONS
- Warm-Up: A proper warm-up is crucial before starting a threshold workout to prepare the muscles and cardiovascular system.
- Recovery: Adequate recovery after threshold workouts is essential due to the high intensity of the exercise.
- Individual Variation: Threshold pace varies among individuals, and runners should pay attention to their body’s cues to avoid overexertion.
Threshold Training is a highly effective way for runners to improve their endurance, speed, and running economy. By focusing on the lactate threshold, runners can enhance their ability to sustain faster paces over longer distances. As with all high-intensity workouts, it should be approached with a plan that includes proper warm-up, pacing, and recovery to maximize benefits and minimize the risk of injury.
THRESHOLD TRAINING FAQs
To determine your threshold pace in running, you can use the following methods:
- Lactate Threshold Test: A lactate threshold test, often performed in a lab setting, involves measuring blood lactate levels at various intensities to identify the point at which lactate begins to accumulate in the blood. This intensity corresponds to the lactate threshold pace.
- Race Pace: For many runners, the threshold pace is equal to a pace they could race at for 50 to 60 minutes. For example, if you can run a mile at half marathon pace in 10 minutes, your threshold running pace would be a little faster than this race speed.
- Perceived Effort: Threshold pace is often described as a pace that feels "comfortably hard" - tougher than a casual jog, but sustainable for an extended period without needing to stop.
- Online Calculators: There are online tools and calculators that can estimate your threshold pace based on recent race performances or other running benchmarks, such as vdot number.
By using these methods, you can determine your threshold pace, which is essential for effective threshold training and improving your overall running performance.