Training Zones

Recovery Running

A lighter training load for recovery work or if you are feeling a bit fatigued.

Easy Running

Easy running is used in long runs, supplementary runs, warm-ups, cool-downs and active recoveries between higher intensity intervals. The primary benefit of easy running is that it enables you to run more distance without greatly increasing stress on your body.

Steady Running

Steady running is executed above Lactate Threshold (LT) but below the Lactate Turnpoint (LTP). At the lower end of the zone, this involves medium to long workouts and, at the higher end of the zone, this involves medium to short workouts. All workouts regardless of duration are all generally run at a fairly constant pace. As an athlete you should get tired as a function of volume not the intensity of the session.

Tempo (or Threshold) Running

Tempo runs are sometimes referred to as intensive aerobic intervals and can involve ‘long intervals’.

Tempo pace is traditionally defined as the running pace at which the blood lactate level begins to spike – that is, the LTP. Tempo runs are traditionally run just above LTP at the lower end of the zone and are generally constant pace efforts for a relatively prolonged period of time. They typically take the form of a sustained effort with the primary purpose to increase the pace one can sustain for a prolonged period of time and increase the time one can sustain a relatively fast pace. Many coaches and runners do longer tempo runs at slower than true tempo pace. Additionally, some runners gradually build up the intensity of a longer tempo run until actually running at tempo pace for the target duration. Both these practices can yield positive results.

On the other hand, tempo paced runs at the upper end of the zone can span a wide number of sets and reps. They should have built into them sufficient rest or slow work to allow complete recovery between reps or sets. This design format ensures that there is no accumulated fatigue between sets or reps allowing maintenance of quality rather than a reduction in performance caused by fatigue. The aim of these sessions is to get the body used to working intermittently above LTP and practise recovering after each effort.

Aerobic Intervals

Aerobic intervals are sometimes referred to as intensive aerobic intervals or ‘reps’ or simply ‘intervals’.

The repetitions and sets of these types of sessions are designed in such a way that during each interval and during the workout there will be an accumulation of lactate concentration ([La]) in the blood often between 5-12 mM by the end of the session. The main goal however is to maximally challenge the aerobic as opposed to the anaerobic system. To do this, the distance or time governing each rep usually needs to be a minimum of 3 minutes (as it takes around 2 minutes to reach the point where the body is operating at VO2max – the purpose of the workout). If performing shorter duration reps (e.g. 1 minute reps) then recovery must be reduced so that one is not fully recovered before the start of the next rep. Using this practice, after several intervals one may reach VO2max in a much shorter duration thereby accumulating more time at VO2max. Therefore the amount of recovery taken between repeated runs should be equal to (if taking active recovery), or a little less (if taking complete rest – generally half the rep duration) than the rep duration. The athlete should be able to perform each rep at the same velocity and with the same technique throughout the session.

For a scientific approach to understanding the pace required for you, in each training zone, see the Training Science page.

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