Check out this 8 minute test from Running Times to learn more!
As a coach, one of the most frequent questions I get is, “How fast should I run?” I’ve found that you can get an accurate answer by doing a test of your lactate threshold, or the pace at which your body can no longer clear lactate at the rate it’s being produced.
Although there are many ways to determine your lactate threshold, most are expensive and inconvenient. In contrast, the one I use is easily reproducible, cost-free and reasonably accurate. I call it a “Run LT Field Test.” All you need is a track or a GPS device to determine total distance run, and a heart rate monitor.
The Run LT Field Test entails running for 8 minutes on a 400m track or, while wearing a GPS device, on a measured flat surface. The goal is to cover as much distance as possible in the 8 minutes. Data collected in the test include:
— Total distance run (to the nearest 10m)
— Average heart rate during the test
— Maximum heart rate during the test
— Each 400m split time
— Heart rate at the end of each 400m
— Perceived exertion on a scale of 1 to 10
— Where you ran the test
— Weather conditions
Making Use of Your Test Data
Take the average heart rate during your 8-minute field test and multiply it by the percentages in the table below. Once you have your average heart rate from the test and you’ve computed your results you can begin to use the heart rate ranges in training and racing to know that you’re always working at the proper intensity for a given run’s purpose.
To take the test, follow the instructions below. Then use your results and the chart at the bottom of the page to guide your training.
1. FIND A TEST TRACK: Go to a track that isn’t busy so there’s no one in your lane when you conduct the test. Run the test in the first lane. Do the test at the same time of day each time you conduct your test and, if you’re doing it away from a track, on the same stretch of road; repeatability is important for accurate testing. Conduct the test when the wind is relatively calm and temperatures are mild.
2. WARM UP: Do your normal pre-race warm-up, including some strides, so that you’re ready to run hard from the beginning of the test.
3. START THE TEST: Start your test in lane 1 at the end of a straightaway. Don’t go out too fast; you want to find the fastest pace you can sustain for the 8 minutes. Focus on finding your rhythm and pace. It will be faster than 5K race pace and, for most people, slower than mile race pace.
4. KEEP TRACK OF YOUR TIME: Take your splits at each 400m and measure your exact final distance to within 10m. Keep track of the time. Gather the data listed in the box to the left. Record and date all your field test results so you can compare and mark your progress.
|WORKOUT TYPE||PERCENTAGE OF YOUR RUN LT FIELD TEST AVERAGE|
|Foundation Run||up to 97% (up to 1 hour)|
|Endurance Run||up to 97% (up to 1 hour or longer)|
|Steady State Run||92-98%|
Repeat this test several times a year to track your lactate threshold and your fitness improvement.
Lisa Rainsberger, the 1985 Boston Marathon champion, coaches online at traininggoals.com.