Testing, Testing, The Season Has Begun!

Allow me to digress before I even start (if that’s possible), will you? I was just thinking how interesting blogs are. They can remain unchanged and consistent, or they can, over time, morph into something completely different from what was intended when they were created. And sometimes they can attain both. Take this paragraph, for example, from my very first post over 3 years ago, a few months after moving to France:

I think this blog will have lots of cycling in it, for the time being at least, mainly because, other than drinking Belgian beer and Languedoc wine, that’s what my life is about here in southern France. I haven’t found much in the way of English info for cycling this beautiful region, so in the future I think I may make a website with maps, etc. For now though, what you get is bad photos and crappy commentary.

It turns out that I have stayed fairly true. I now have a website with maps, etc., I still love my Belgian beer and Languedoc wine and, of course, my cycling. However, back then I rode for joy, not for pain and suffering (please, dear reader, recognize the tongue when it is in the cheek) and I certainly had no clue what an Anaerobic Threshold might be. But of course, that’s all changed…

Today I started my training for the 2012 season by doing an Anaerobic Threshold Test on the bike. Now, I don’t want to get too technical – mainly because I can’t – but your AT (AKA Lactate Threshold) is the point during a hard effort at which there is more lactate being produced by your body than your blood stream can carry away, i.e. you get a build-up of the stuff and then you feel The Burn. Essentially, going above this threshold signals the end of whatever you are doing (e.g. climbing a hill hard) because you just can’t stay above that line long. You either need to cut back or very quickly ride yourself into a throbbing, heaving speed bump.

Finding this threshold is important because one of the goals of training will be to push that threshold up higher and therefore be able to produce more power at the same HR (or something like that…I’m still new, so be kind). It’s also used to find your training zones (along with resting heart rate and other factors). These zones are key to successful training because each zone (a ‘block’ of heart rate, e.g. 154-164: my Zone 3) trains a different energy system in the body and smart coaches (or smart athletes) will know which zones to be working in, according to the time of the season, your objectives, etc. I was doing this last year, but without the aid of a HR monitor.

So, without further ado, I give you my AT Test. The middle two ‘laps’ are the test and the first and last, warm-up and warm-down. My AT is 176, that is, the heart rate I can hold for 20 or 30 minutes without puking up a lung. The test, by the by, is simple (and can be viewed on Coach Rob’s page of great training advice): after a suitable warm-up, do a 20-min ride at the pace explained above (just below the ‘red line’) and average your heart rate over the last 10 minutes.

Training Result 13.12.2011 14:16.

And now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to go and apologize to my knee for the beating I gave it today.

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5 thoughts on “Testing, Testing, The Season Has Begun!

  1. All good stuff. In my orienteering days I wore a heart monitor and if my pulse went above 180, I had to stop and sit down, otherwise I could guarantee to get lost because my brain would have stopped working. You seem to be taking things seriously.

    • I used to do a lot of hiking before I discovered pedals. I remember getting up to that point a few times, too, but not very often. My knee hurts just thinking about hiking now (well, hiking downhill at least).

  2. Looks like you found an ugly climb at the 25 minute mark – though your heart rate dropped at that point too – maybe stuck in traffic?

    I’ve never done an AT test – I’d hate to think what I’d score now…

    • Nope, that was my speed, not altitude. It was a pretty flat road. The AT test is interesting only if you’re going to do any training, probably, but it might be good to see what your max is. I had no idea that max HR is mostly genetic, so my coach’s is something like 155 and my friend John’s is 200! I’m not sure what it all means, but it’s interesting nonetheless.

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