Anaerobic Threshold Relationship With % Maximal Heart Rate

I would like to double check with you information about the anaerobic threshold, I don't remember where I got this, and if it is correct, I don't know:

According to what I think I read, the anaerobic threshold is crossed at about 90% of the maximal heart rate attainable by a given person.

For the sake of example, mine is 185, so at (or around) 165 beats per minute, running at that pace, I am actually running at the anaerobic threshold.

Moreover, this anaerobic threshold is the pace I should keep for what I know as "repetitions" (for example, 5x1000m at 4minutes/km, with a recovery interval between 1000s of 3' 45").

Am I correct?

Intelligent Triathlon Training replies:

You are correct that the anaerobic threshold (AT) would appear about 90% of max heart rate – generally. However your training status will determine how close to 90% you can get it - it could be slightly lower if you are not really well trained, but is normally around 85-90% of max heart rate.

Another way of looking at it is that your sustainable pace for ~ a 10-km race will be around AT, but if you are quick (sub ~ 35-min) you can probably exceed AT and for those world class athletes with exceptional conditioning and endurance then a half marathon would be closer to AT.

Therefore the session you have described is a bit of a mix. First of all, using heart rate for 4-min reps with 4-min recovery is not ideal for guiding intensity as you will only begin to see heart rate settle after about 1 minute of running and then it will drop significantly in your recovery and the whole process starts again.

If you are doing the reps at AT pace then you are having too much rest. This should be reduced to ~3:1 work/rest and you need to be building the number of reps. Ideally this session would be very slightly over AT pace to drive the adaption and increase your AT pace.

If your 10-km race pace is slower than ~ 40-min, then the session you have described above is being done too much faster than AT pace. If this is the case, then you probably need to evaluate what the session is doing for you.

Running an effort that is 4 minutes long and needs 4 minutes to recover so you can repeat it, suggests you are probably looking at more like 1500-m or 3-km track training.

If this is not what you are training for (ie if you are training for triathlon) you need to reduce the pace and the recovery duration as in the session above.

To develop AT you need to be getting at last 30 to 40 minutes of work at, or very slightly over AT pace. You may need to do less in the early stages of a training plan to build up to doing that – it’s not advisable to jump straight in at that level, but that should be where you are aiming.

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