Break Through a Plateau
Stuck at your current speed? You may be training too hard, posits a study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning. According to the researchers, spending too much time doing tempo runs just above your lactate threshold—a moderate-intensity pace at which the body starts producing lactic acid—can have detrimental effects on performance. To test their theory, the researchers divided well-trained runners into two groups. One did 25 percent of their training at this moderate intensity. The other only did 12 percent of their runs at this effort level and used the time saved to do more low-intensity running. After five months the latter group improved their 6.5-mile race time by an average of 36 seconds more than the former group.
It’s possible that doing too much moderate-intensity running places more stress on the body than it can adequately recover from. “If the runner can dedicate more time to daily training sessions, it seems better to design an ‘easy-hard’ distribution load (increasing the amount of low-intensity training), than a ‘moderate high-hard’ training approach,” says study author Jonathan Esteve-Lanao, an exercise physiologist at the European University of Madrid in Spain. To avoid short changing yourself, devote 80 percent of your training to low-intensity running, 12 percent to moderate-intensity (ie: a heart rate that’s 75 to 80 percent of your max) and 8 percent to high-intensity work, such as sprints.
Calculate your max heart rate using this women’s-specific formula: 206 - (0.88 x age).
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