Are you in the zone?

Our testing facility has been open in Cardiff for a couple of months and we have already provided individuals with a plethora of useful data to apply to their training. Our VO2 Max test not only provides an athlete with a VO2 Max score but also during the test our equipment picks up an individual’s aerobic and anaerobic thresholds. It uses these (with your peak heart rate rate) to create four unique training zones. Below I have laid out results of VO2 Max tests for 6 different athletes we have tested recently. Individuals have been paired based on their similar VO2 max scores and through some information gathering I can suggest they are at a similar point along their endurance career too. We could suggest A&B = novice, C&D = experienced age group athlete, E&F = elite age group athlete.     

In the second column, peak heart rate (HR), this is the highest beats per minute reached during the VO2 Max ramp test. You have likely heard of the theory 220 – Your Age = Maximum Heart Rate. We can see that only athletes B and C fall in line with this theory. The other 4 athletes are between 12 and 18 bpm out from the theory.

Third column, anaerobic threshold (AT), our equipment highlights this point during the ramp test. It is the point at which anaerobic processes become more dominant and lactic acid begins to accumulate above resting levels in the body.   

Fourth column, VO2 Max, measured in milliliters of oxygen per kilogram of body weight per minute. The maximum amount of oxygen an individual can use during intense exercise, sometimes referred to as ‘the size of your engine.’

Fifth column, essentially how much of your engine can you use for a sustained effort. An average person (not average athlete) would score around 70%. Elite athletes can score 88-94%.

Sixth column, based on the test data our software creates unique training intensity zones. I have just picked one zone to show you here, the results actually provide four (Low, Moderate, High & Peak). The ‘moderate’ or aerobic endurance zone is the area where endurance athletes will spend most of their training, so it could be said is the most important one to get right.

Seventh column, for comparison I have taken a well used theory which works out an individual’s aerobic zone based on a % of their anaerobic threshold heart rate. We can see that for every athlete our test suggests their aerobic training zone starts between 20 and 32 BPM higher than  and stretches 7-10 beats beyond that of the theory. In short by following the theory these athletes could have been riding at intensities much to low to really get ‘bang for their buck’ from their long endurance rides or runs. Granted there is merit to going out and riding at a lower intensity, it’s better than lying on the couch. However, to force the body to adapt and grow their endurance capabilities effectively they may need to be working much harder than they thought.    

For reference I have provided screen shots of the individuals ventilation graphs below. The green line shows ventilation (Ve/VO2 – the relationship between ventilation and oxygen uptake), the blue line shows heart rate (BPM). The vertical blue line indicates the aerobic threshold and the vertical green line is the anaerobic threshold. You’ll notice different shapes to the curve of the ventilation line, perhaps I’ll go into detail in another write up, but in short, the shape of the line gives us an insight into the condition of an athlete and can help identify strengths and weaknesses to further support their training.  

For more information on testing visit www.enduraprep.co.uk/testing Or if you have any queries please contact Lawrence@enduraprep.co.uk

Athlete A

Athlete B

Athlete C 

Athlete D

Athlete E 

Athlete F 


New Year Trisolutions  

January is here! Let me guess, you’ve over indulged, have lost track of what day it is, feel unfit and are looking forward to getting back into a routine? So here is what you are probably thinking ‘I want to eat less food, do more training and be awesome!’ With going back to work this is all going to be a bit of a shock to the system but it’s the new year and you are motivated to get results, so you layer on the new technical gear Santa brought you and head out for a run or ride! While the first few training sessions might feel sluggish the release of endorphin’s and satisfaction from making a new start will be highly motivating. This motivation might drive you to push harder or go further than is necessary. Then it hits you, the early starts, rapid increase in training volume and change in diet weakens your immune system and you get ill or injured. So here is my suggestion for a triathlete’s new year’s resolution:

‘Make it to February without illness or injury.’

Perhaps this doesn’t seem very ambitious, but unless you are racing abroad it is unlikely that your ‘A’ race is any time soon. If you make it through January without setback then it is likely that you have settled into a sustainable routine balancing work, family and training without over stressing your body. You have now laid a healthy foundation to move forward.

Here is a few tips help the endurance enthusiast make it through January:

Divert your motivation – Instead of putting all your drive into achieving ultimate fitness. Why not focus on something that doesn’t get your attention during the racing season. DIY? Work commitments? Other hobbies? This might allow you to free up more time in the spring and summer for training and racing.

Benchmarks – Try not to compare your current fitness with where you were at the end of the summer, or even at the beginning of December. Instead think back to how you compare to last January. You have a season of events under your belt, many training sessions, many miles and many experiences (positive and negative). Your starting point this year is likely much stronger than that of last year.

Diet – Now we are in January you probably shouldn’t count cranberry sauce as one of your five a day. But that doesn’t mean you should try and survive on vegetable juice and chia seeds until you shift any festive weight. Before implementing any diet change ask yourself, ‘is this sustainable through February and beyond?’ If the answer is ‘no’ then I would suggest looking for a more balanced solution. Give your body the micro and macro nutrients it needs to handle your training and lifestyle.

Sleep & Recovery – Your body needs time to absorb your training and recover ready for the next session. Try to establish a routine in January that gives you enough sleep & rest. If you are not getting enough now it is unlikely you will cope well with increased training volume come spring.

Try to avoid being ‘awesome’ in January. Instead try to be consistent and patient then come race season, you will be AWESOME!