I have in some recent training articles discussed what I consider to be smart (interval) training and following is an example of what could be used as a smart approach for many interval workouts. In short this is: A good but easy warm-up, a conservative effort on the first couple of intervals and then gradually faster and harder.
Some interval sessions should avoid the hard race-type finish and be kept around -30 to -18 beats from max heart rate. Other workouts can be without the easy start and stress the heart at around -20 to -5 from max during all the bouts. No interval session should however show a fading performance curve.
A fading performance curve is shown when you for example run interval #2 in 3 minutes at a hard effort and then you run interval #4 (also at a hard effort) in 3 minutes and 20 seconds – starting and finishing at the same spot.
In other words, be able to at least perform at the level of the first two intervals in your last interval(s). You’re starting (way) too fast if that’s not the case.
Here are my 9 intervals, the time used on each one and in brackets the heart-rate after about 1.5 minute and at the top of the hill. You can see my lactate levels after interval 2, 5, 7 and 9. My true max heart-rate is 182.
1. 2.46 (157-159)
2. 2.40 (161-163) – Lactate 5.9
3. 2.40 (162-163)
4. 2.36 (163-164)
5. 2.35 (162-164) – Lactate 4.3
6. 2.22 (164-167)
7. 2.20 (164-169) – Lactate 5.6
8. 2.18 (164-170)
9. 2.17 (166-173) – Lactate 8.3
Total time intervals, testing and recovery between intervals: 53 minutes
My intention was to hold back and avoid building high lactate levels early in the session. I did the first lactate test after the second interval and thought that the pace was fine but the lactate a bit high. My goal was now (after the first two intervals) to ski equally fast and at the same time lower/reduce my lactates.
It’s great feeling if you can accomplish that in a race!
My strategy was to ski the flat section faster and therefore “be ahead” when I started on the climb. I was able to do that and could therefore hold back a little in the uphill. I also tried to use my upper body better, be less wide with the arms, finish the arm motions with a snap and stress less.
That approach worked. I skied 4-5 seconds faster and dropped the lactate from 5.9 to 4.3 At that point I felt that I had accomplished better efficiency as well as some good controlled threshold training.
I then decided to move into “Max Vo2” training by elevating both the heart-rates and lactates. Each of the remaining 4 intervals were therefore skied within 18 to 9 beats from max heart rate or level/intensity 4 for those using the 1-5 intensity scale. 90-95% of max heart-rate is commonly used to develop max Vo2.
The effort on the last two interval were pretty much all-out or intensity 5, but the profile of the road – 1/3 flat and 2/3 uphill is a little short for reaching even higher heart rate to correspond with the all out effort. I would have seen 176 or higher if this was 1K of “all-out” in a pure uphill.
Do you need a lactate analyzer?
No you don’t need one. A heart-rate monitor is sufficient in giving you necessary feedback on your training. The lactate analyzer is a good coaching tool when educating athletes in what is happening to the body when training at different intensities.