Every day you incorporate training, nutrition, and recovery strategies to help you reach your goals. But while you may be training for a season or event in the future, how are you measuring your progress along your training journey and how are you celebrating that success? How do you determine what duration, intensity or speed to swim, bike and run?
A great way to measure progress and the success of your training efforts is to partake in performance testing every few weeks to measure your improvement and determine which areas you’ve improved in, and which areas you still need to work on. This will also help your coaches update your training programs based on your results and where you want to be.
Basic field tests I use to establish a baseline and set heart rate training zones are described below. The bike and run tests establish your anaerobic heart rate and from that number, I can calculate your other training zones
Bike Trainer – Set-Up
For a stationary bike, similar to a lifecycle bike at your gym, select the “manual” mode. If using your own bike on a trainer, you will start the test riding at 15mph, in a gear that gives you a comfortable normal cadence at that speed. During the test, increase speed by shifting gears as needed. You may need to adjust your cadence along with gear changes to hit each target speed. You can use an assistant to record information. Warm-up equipment, and yourself, for 10-15 minutes.
- Throughout the test, you will hold a predetermined speed or power level. Start at 15 mph (or 80-100 watts if on a stationary) and increase by 1 mph (or 20 watts) every 1.5 minutes until you can no longer continue. Stay seated throughout the test. Shift gears at any time.
- At the end of each 1.5 minutes, tell your assistant how great your exertion is using the original Borg scale, Perceived Exertion7 (easiest) to 20 (hardest) Your assistant will record your exertion rating and your heart rate at the end of the 1.5 minutes and instruct you to increase speed (watts) to the next level. In order to prevent associating perceived effort with a specific heart rate, do not allow the subject to see his or her heart rate for the duration of the test.
- The assistant will also listen closely to your breathing to detect when it becomes unnaturally labored. This point is the “VT” or ventilatory threshold and should be noted on the test sheet.
- Continue until you can no longer hold the speed (watts) for at least 15 seconds. Very important to keep spinning immediately after you finish the test in a very easy gear/resistance so you properly cool-down. You should cool-down for 10-20min.
If you would rather go out and do a 20-minute time trial, contact me for the test protocol
Running the Anaerobic Threshold Test:
The test for running can easily be performed on a treadmill in a similar fashion to the bike test. You will need can use an assistant to record your results.
- Warm-up for 10-20min on a treadmill at a 1 percent grade.
- If you can run a 10km road race in less then 40min start the test at 6mph or 10kmph and at a 3 percent grade. If you run a 10km road race in greater then 40min start the test at 5mph or 8kmph also at an incline of 3 degrees. Whatever speed you start at should feel very light to light on the Borg scale. Adjust the start speed if needed. Note: the start speed will only negatively affect your test if the effort is to hard at the start. Your test will not be hurt if you start to slow or very easy.
- Your assistant will record your exertion rating and your heart rate at the end of the 1.5 minutes and instruct you to increase speed by .3mph or .5kmph. Keep the incline steady at 3 percent grade throughout the entire test. In order to prevent associating perceived effort with a specific heart rate, do not allow the subject to see his or her heart rate for the duration of the test.
- For safety reasons, stop the test once an effort of 19 (very very hard) is reached. Maximal effort is not needed as your heart rate zones will be based off your AT rather than your maximal heart rate.
5. The same as with the bike test, the assistant should listen closely to your breathing to detect when it becomes unnaturally labored. This point is the “VT” or ventilatory threshold is reached and the heart rate at this time should be recorded
If you do not have access to a treadmill you could also simply wear your heart rate monitor during a 10k and take this average number as ATHR for running.
Warm-up for 10’ minutes. Do some easy swimming. Also, do whatever technique drills help you to feel most buoyant, balanced, and fluid in the water.
Swimm 500-1000 meters/yards for time. Distance will depend on your current experience and comfort level in the pool.
After performing your testing and seeing the positive results you’ve achieved, make sure you reward yourself for the hard work and dedication that went into improving your performance. Whether that’s enjoying your favorite meal or doing something special with friends, make sure to celebrate the small successes along the journey to succeed in your ultimate goal.
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Happy training and make it a great day!