4 Ways To See If Your Plan Is Working
My Menu of Submax Performance Measures
The reason WHY your program is working is a topic of endless debate.
4 methods to see if your program is working.
Capped Heart Rate Routes
Progressive Benchmark Sets
Next week, I’ll share my thoughts on the Nordic Method. It’s not what I was led to believe.
Olav Aleksander Bu is a Norwegian Coach, who I watch closely. Bu describes the velocity:duration curve as the single most important metric for us to track.
I’ve been tracking velocity for a long time.
Here’s how I do it.
Capped Heart Rate Routes
Choose A Route, or Climb
Set A Heart Rate Cap
Go As Fast As Possible, under the cap
Let Strava Keep Score
You don’t need Strava, but it makes it easier.
What you want to track is pace vs heart rate.
This game is going to nudge you into thinking, “how can I get the most speed for a given effort.”
In rolling courses, you’ll find yourself looking for opportunities to settle heart rate before the next hill.
Pace and heart rate management are essential race skills.
How do we use lactate effectively?
Test over time.
One lactate test is a dot.
A series of tests, combined with our field performance, will show a pattern.
Are we improving, or not?
What do we see in my series of tests.
We can see a linear profile (August 2022, Red) changing to a normal profile (January 2023., Thin Black Line).
We can see the role of time in athletic development. The tests span August 2022 to January 2023.
We can see lactate for a given power declining. Aerobic threshold (AeT) shifted from 107bpm/150w to 116bpm/200w. Threshold-Minus (T-) effort shifted from 127bpm/210w to 134bpm/250w.
Look for positive directional moves over time.
I like progressive benchmark sets.
My two favorite swim tests are:
5x400m (descend on 10s rest)
2000 meter best-effort TT
I’ve been using the 5x400m set, short rest, each one a little quicker.
October 1st / December 20th
6:50 / 6:36
6:36 / 6:21
6:16 / 6:10
6:09 / 5:59
5:56 / 5:40
Directionally positive ✅
Keep doing what’s working
Short Rest: we’re not testing recovery capacity, we are testing pace management
Interval Duration: 5x400 is a 30-minute test, if you are benchmarking an Ironman athlete then have a look at 800s. As an elite, I’d do 1000s.
Long Progressive Sets show hidden limiters.Benchmark open water just like pool swimming • laps/loops • wear an HRM • track pace / max & avg HR • compare solo, to drafting • see what you gain from hitting the gas (not much) Prove the wisdom of sitting-in Learn to recover while movingThe benchmark set is 5x400 • Each one quicker than the one before • Short rest between them (5-10s) • #1 to #3 are three-stroke breathing Fit swimmers are not panting down the lane - moderate fitness will let me do the set b/l 3 the whole way With the results...Gordo Byrn @feelthebyrn1
Running: If you’re at the track, consider using a partner to have a look at lactate. Page One of this document is my favorite protocol.
Cycling: You can use the progressive set I outline in this article.
Whatever protocol you choose, compare like-for-like.
Look for directional improvement.
Day-to-day results can be noisy.
My testing looks great. I’m crushing, right?
Not so fast.
Short-duration tests can mislead and nudge us towards ramping up the intensity before we are ready.
Testing for decoupling provides a reality check.
Pick an easy effort
Stay well fed and hydrated
Hold that effort
Watch heart rate vs pace/power/feel
What’s Easy? Start by averaging a power/pace that is BELOW aerobic threshold, stay in the Green Zone.
How Long? Depends on your event and goals. Cyclists, build up to 4 hours. Runners, build up to 2 hours. Marathoners, I recommend supplemental cycling up to your race duration.
As an elite ultradistance athlete:
I could run in Zone 4 for two hours without decoupling.
I could ride at aerobic threshold for seven hours without decoupling, after swimming 5000 meters.
Combine those, you’ll get exceptional race results.
It starts by building foundational fitness.
Additional ideas inside this video I made for you.
Keeping It Real
Focus on directional moves over time.
Good enough is good enough.
Aim for exceptional stamina, without decoupling.
Resist the urge to add sustained intensity, don’t risk your consistency.
If an Endurance & Strength approach is working, then KEEP DOING IT.
Endurance Essentials is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.
Back To Table of Contents