Training with Pace
Pace is another means of measuring and monitoring your training intensity. The advantage of pace is that it can be easily gauged with a watch (along with distance markers) or a GPS-watch (that gives you pace). Pace works best when the terrain is relatively constant, such as on the track or in the pool. But pace can be less reliable when throwing in confounding variables, such as hills or wind. For this reason, pace tends to work best for swimming and running. Most swimming pools conveniently display a pace clock, for example. And even if you don’t swim at a facility with a pace clock, you can use your watch to monitor pace. Running also works well with pace, and you could potentially use pace for cross country skiing. For cycling, though, or cross country skiing, other methods (namely, heart rate or power) are generally preferable; so the protocols in this section only focus on how to establish your pace zones for swimming and running (although you can apply the same principle to cycling and cross country skiing if you choose).
Your pace zones are based on your pace at lactate threshold, also known as your threshold pace—variously termed T-pace (for “threshold pace”) or FTPa (for “functional threshold pace”). Recall from chapter 2 that you can generally maintain a pace at your lactate threshold for about an hour. But that duration may be as little as 5 minutes for untrained individuals and as close to 90 minutes for elite endurance athletes.
How to Establish Your Running Pace Zones
To determine your running pace zones, you first need to find your threshold pace. To do this, you can either run a solo time trial or use the results from a recent race, such as a 5K, 10K or another distance up to a half marathon.
Remember that threshold pace is generally the pace you can hold for about an hour. This means if you use a 5K (for most runners) or even a 10K (for many runners), your “race pace” at those distances will be faster than threshold pace. You have a few different options for calculating your threshold pace to account for this difference.
First, divide your time by the distance to obtain your average pace for that distance. Next, if you ran a 5K, multiply that average pace by 1.07. If you ran a 10K, multiply the average pace over the 10K by 1.01. For most people, the result will be a good approximation of your threshold pace. Once you have that number, use the Alp Fitness Pace Zones for Running calculator to find your running pace zones.
Another option for calculating your threshold pace is to plug your result for the 5K or 10K or other distance into the Alp Fitness Equivalent Running Performances calculator to determine an “equivalent running performance” closer to an hour. Take the average pace of that equivalent performance in the one hour range and use that as your threshold pace. Then use the Alp Fitness Pace Zones for Running calculator to find your running pace zones. Yet another option is to use the automatic calculator found in the TrainingPeaks online training log.
Beyond formulas and calculators, remember the underlying premise of what you are looking to find. Namely, your functional threshold pace represents a pace you can hold for about an hour (for most athletes). If you are new to endurance training, this duration will be shorter—in that case, simply using the results of a 5K or 10K race level effort may work. Or, if you are a sub-1:20 half marathon runner; then using the average pace from a half marathon could work.
How to Establish Your Swimming Pace Zones
To determine your swimming pace zones, you first need to find your threshold pace. To do this, swim a 1,000-yd or 1,000-m time trial (TT) at a race-level effort. This means you should go into the TT well rested and ready to go as fast as you can over that distance. Record your time for the TT and then divide that time by 10 to find your pace per 100. Typically, this works out to be a good approximation of your threshold pace.
Plug this number into the Alp Fitness Pace Zones for Swimming calculator to find your swimming pace zones. You can also use the automatic calculator found on Training Peaks.
Keep in mind that for the calculations of your swimming pace zones to be accurate, the results of the TT need to represent a race-level effort. In my experience coaching swimmers of different levels, I have found that a 500 TT often works better for novice swimmers who are unaccustomed to “racing” longer distances. In such cases, you can find your pace per 100 based on the results of a 500 TT. On the other hand, experienced swimmers will be able to hold a pace slightly faster than threshold pace for a 1,000-yd/m time trial. If that’s you, you may use a longer time trial (e.g. 1.5-km or 1.2-mile) or convert your 1,000-yd/m time to an equivalent performance of a longer distance to better approximate your threshold pace. Once you have your threshold pace; then use table 3-3 to determine your target paces for the different training zones.
TRAINING GUIDE CONTENTS
– Train with a Purpose
– The ABCs of Systematic Training
– The R&R of Training
– Begin with the End in Mind
2. Exercise Science Concepts
– Overreaching and Overtraining
– Energy Systems
– Aerobic Capacity
– Lactate Threshold
– Aerobic Threshold
– Muscle Fiber Types
3. Monitor Your Training Intensity
– What is Training Intensity?
– Key Indicators of Intensity
– Using Training Zones
– Training by Feel, or Perceived Exertion
– Training with Pace
– Training with Heart Rate
– Running with Power
4. Create Your Training Plan
– Prioritizing Your Events
– Overview of the Training Phases
– Choosing Your Periodization Schedule
– Filling in the Details of the Overall Plan
5. Create Your Weekly Workouts
– Creating Weekly Schedules
– Establishing and Developing Your Base
– Building Upon Your Base
– Peaking for Your Target Event
– Race Week and Race Day Warmup
6. Functional Strength
7. Recovery and Nutrition
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