As you aim to develop your threshold abilities, there is a standard way of building this zone. Essentially, build time in your lactate threshold zone to help establish a higher output. While this is often the starting block, there is another way to truly maximize your threshold development within workouts.
Anaerobic vs Aerobic Training
When discussing a training focus, workouts are generally classified as either anaerobic or aerobic. Anaerobic is when your body does not utilize oxygen for your energy needs. These activities generally last 90 seconds or less. Aerobic activities process oxygen in your blood to help facilitate the energy requirements. These activities can last 90 seconds and beyond. Aerobic activities are generally what we think of when talking about endurance events.
Mix of Energy Systems
While we think of aerobic activities lasting longer than 90 seconds, you still get some carry over from your anaerobic energy systems contributing to longer distance events. Its rarely ever 100% aerobic and 0% anaerobic. What is more likely is 95% aerobic and 5% anaerobic production. Due to different demands on your body in many different ways, these systems work in tandem and often work together to meet energy demands.
Purpose of this Workout
Due to the contribution of anaerobic energy to your aerobic activities, we want to aim to burn all of your anaerobic production prior to focusing exclusively on your aerobic threshold. By mixing in 5×1 minute max efforts, you will fatigue your anaerobic system and begin to rely more on your aerobic system during the lactate threshold intervals. This helps athletes maximize their lactate threshold development and truly focus on the appropriate physiological demands.
When to Perform This Workout Within A Season
This workout is difficult. It requires a level of fitness and motivation that is often found near an athletes peak. Due to the level of stress from this workout, it is recommended that you only perform this workout when you’re nearing your peak form. Aim to start this workout 1-2x/week during the final 6-8 weeks of your peak season build.
Throughout my coaching career, this has been a fantastic workout to gauge the athletes ability to sustain threshold and build peak aerobic threshold abilities. For athletes looking to maximize a time trial, or prepare for a fast mass-start cycling race, this is a key session to perform. If you are able to hit this workout multiple times during your peak training, your confidence in your abilities should build as well. Athletes that perform this workout with success have often went on to win major races or at the least, have the abilities needed to be in a position for success. Give this workout a try and see how it builds your abilities and confidence.