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Thread: I Think I Have My Lactate Threshold...What Next?

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    I Think I Have My Lactate Threshold...What Next?

    I wonder if anyone can help me. Thank you in advance!

    My goal is to improve my 400 meter freestyle. My time right now is 5:45. I am almost 44 years old.

    Coming off six weeks of doing only long, slow swims (2-3 miles) at 125 HR or lower, I performed a 3000 meter freestyle at maximum in an effort to discover my lactate threshold. My time was 47:29.

    Right afterwards my HR was 164, so I estimate it was probably around 170 during the actual swim. Average pace was as follows:

    1:35 per 100
    3:10 per 200
    6:20 per 400

    My first 400 was, to my surprise, a 6:02. So you can see I got slower later on.

    Is this a reasonable approximation if my lactate threshold?

    Should I start by training below this pace, say at 140 HR, then build to eventually holding 400 meter pace?

    Thank you for any advice you care to give. God bless!
    Mike
    Romans 8:1

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    Re: I Think I Have My Lactate Threshold...What Next?

    Yesterday I intended to swim 2 miles at 140 HR. My plan is to start slow and move up the HR ďladderĒ a bit at a time.

    Unfortunately my HR was 152, 152, 148, and 144 the times I checked it (finger to neck, floating in the middle of the pool). I suppose I need to slow down! Not easy though. 125 HR I can do; 170 HR I can do. Hard to find the in-between.

    If anyone disagrees with this approach Iíd love to hear it. Thank you!

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    Very Active Member quicksilver's Avatar
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    Re: I Think I Have My Lactate Threshold...What Next?

    Quote Originally Posted by mikeh View Post
    Yesterday I intended to swim 2 miles at 140 HR. My plan is to start slow and move up the HR ďladderĒ a bit at a time.

    Unfortunately my HR was 152, 152, 148, and 144 the times I checked it (finger to neck, floating in the middle of the pool). I suppose I need to slow down! Not easy though. 125 HR I can do; 170 HR I can do. Hard to find the in-between.

    If anyone disagrees with this approach Iíd love to hear it. Thank you!
    I think that if you were training for an open water event then the above approach sounds good. The 400 is a different animal altogether and may require a more distance specific practice - rather than a full 2 miles straight - which is basically what your body is adapting to.

    The ideal way to train is to explore your comfort zone and find what gear it requires to swim fast (but controlled) over a certain distance. By getting a feel for the tempo - whether it be a 50 or a 200 - you will know instinctively how to pace without implementing the wrong gear.

    That said, if your target race is the 400 - then swim 400's - both straight - and in a broken set, to learn what the tempo per 100 should feel like - This may help you discover how to swim this distance without using too heavy a stroke, so that you don't hit the wall (your lactate threshold) before the 400 is up.


    This coach has a good approach which you might find helpful.
    Excellence Is Never An Accident.

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    Re: I Think I Have My Lactate Threshold...What Next?

    Thank you very much. I will watch that video closely and get back with questions. You make a good point - the 400 is a fast event and I should add in race pace training

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    Re: I Think I Have My Lactate Threshold...What Next?

    Mike,

    A word of encouragement. Your lactate threshhold is not a static point. The more you train at a higher heart rate, the higher your lactate threshold will become. When I was your age, my goal was to keep my heart rate at least 160 for the majority of my practice 5,000/day. You can do this by keeping a rest interval of 15-20 sec between repeats. You will also want to add 100% effort swims on a much longer interval - a couple of times per week (50s, 100s, broken 200s).

    Keep in mind that muscle memory is heart rate and effort dependent. Long slow swims (125 hr) yield a different muscle memory than training at 160+. For your goal in either the 400 or the 2 mile swim, you need to practice at your race pace goal.

    Too many masters swimmers believe that you get better by swimming on a shorter rest interval. try 20-30 sec rest intervals and bump the intensity up as high as you can tolerate. Your body will adapt and you will get better.

    Good Luck.

    Paul

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    Re: I Think I Have My Lactate Threshold...What Next?

    Paul - thank you very much for that info and encouragement. Whew, there is no way I could keep my HR at 160 day after day, I would badly overtrain, not that gifted. However I can definitely work in a lot of race pace training this summer, holding 100s at 1:25 or so, and even longer distances.

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    Very Active Member Calvin S's Avatar
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    Re: I Think I Have My Lactate Threshold...What Next?

    I have always liked using one of the Dave Salo test sets (borrowed by way of @pwb) for approximating a threshold:

    3x300 @ :45-1:00 rest. All fast, ideally aiming for same splits per 100, same stroke count/25 (or 50 if doing LCM), same kicks off each wall, etc.

    Take the three times, add together and divide by 9 to get your threshold time, then round up 5 to get a good idea of your threshold base (that interval you can make for X reps where you are working quite hard but still make the interval).

    Itís a little math heavy, but personally it always worked for giving me an approximation of my aerobic threshold!

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    Re: I Think I Have My Lactate Threshold...What Next?

    Thank you that is an excellent idea! Sounds a little less time consuming than a 3000 for time!

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    Re: I Think I Have My Lactate Threshold...What Next?

    Mikeh,

    I am with you. Have always hated 3,000 for time because it has more to do with your mental state than physical. Never found they reflected what I could do in a race or in practice when given a little rest.

    Don't sell yourself short about how long you can hold a heart rate. Time and training and pluggin away can make it happen.

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    Re: I Think I Have My Lactate Threshold...What Next?

    Skeletal muscles undergo all kinds of adaptations from athletic training. One of the most important of these is increasing the number of mitochondria within each muscle cell. Mitochondria are the so-called "power houses" where oxygen and fuel are processed to fuel our swimming or other athletic pursuit.

    Long hard distance training can help increase mitochondria, but researchers have recently learned that much shorter, extremely intense bursts of activity can accomplish the same thing. Check out this video of a "Wingate sprint":


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    Re: I Think I Have My Lactate Threshold...What Next?

    Well last weekend I swam the best 400 meters of my life. That isnít saying much, but it was 5 seconds faster than last year. The only 400 pace work I have done since April, I did during warmup for this race. All my training has been very slow (HR 112-128) or moderate (HR 148-152).

    The lack of race prep showed in this one respect - my fastest 100m was my fastest 100 by 6 seconds. Clearly I should have gone out faster.

    This race was much easier than last summerís slower race. I felt like I had a lot more energy, bought I was too old to feel that way.

    Got another race next month, God willing Iíll go faster!

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    Re: I Think I Have My Lactate Threshold...What Next?

    Quote Originally Posted by mikeh View Post
    Well last weekend I swam the best 400 meters of my life. That isnít saying much, but it was 5 seconds faster than last year. The only 400 pace work I have done since April, I did during warmup for this race. All my training has been very slow (HR 112-128) or moderate (HR 148-152
    A personal best is nothing to scoff about. Youíre saying prior to this meet you have not pushed beyond 152 bpm for a few months?

    Quote Originally Posted by jim thornton View Post
    Skeletal muscles undergo all kinds of adaptations from athletic training. One of the most important of these is increasing the number of mitochondria within each muscle cell. Mitochondria are the so-called "power houses" where oxygen and fuel are processed to fuel our swimming or other athletic pursuit.

    Long hard distance training can help increase mitochondria, but researchers have recently learned that much shorter, extremely intense bursts of activity can accomplish the same thing.
    Does this adaptation occur systematically, localized to working groups, or somewhat in between? What about buffering acidosis? For instance, if training on a treadmill a workout geared for lactate tolerance, would the buffering adaptation also be recognized for upper body muscle groups?
    Last edited by __steve__; June 16th, 2018 at 11:16 AM.

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    Re: I Think I Have My Lactate Threshold...What Next?

    Quote Originally Posted by __steve__ View Post
    A personal best is nothing to scoff about. Youíre saying prior to this meet you have not pushed beyond 152 bpm for a few months?

    Does this adaptation occur systematically, localized to working groups, or somewhat in between? What about buffering acidosis? For instance, if training on a treadmill a workout geared for lactate tolerance, would the buffering adaptation also be recognized for upper body muscle groups?
    Thank you very much Steve! Thatís right, other than the 3000m for time to establish my lactate threshold, I have not gone above 150s HR in this training cycle. My theory is that I am training certain muscle fibers that are not as fully accessed by doing a set of 50s at 400m pace. Now thatís a great workout, but it may not provide everything you need.hank you very much Steve! Thatís right, other than the 3000m for time to establish my lactate threshold, I have not gone above 150s HR in this training cycle. My theory is that I am training certain muscle fibers that are not as fully accessed by doing a set of 50s at 400m pace. Now thatís a great workout, but it may not provide everything you need all the time. During a race, as I understand it, we access different types of muscle fibers as we grow more tired. Thus the need to strengthen all of them from the slowest to the fastest.

    The other thing I believe has happened is that I have raised my lactate threshold by training at slower paces, below my actual threshold. I could feel it at the end of the race. I never fell apart, and my last 100 was my fastest by six seconds.(Of course that means I should go out faster.)

    Finally, I think swimming at very low heart rates (108 - 128 BPM) helps with mitochondria production, which provides more energy, and with capillarization, which enables more blood and nutrients to be pushed to the muscle.

    These are qall only theories, love to hear anyone elseís thoughts. Sorry for the lengthy explanation, but perhaps this will give food for thought to others. God bless!

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    Re: I Think I Have My Lactate Threshold...What Next?

    I see your theory: your anaerobic, lactate and fast twitch conditioning were already good to go, you just gave yourself an aerobic base a boost and allowed the former, possibly close to overtrained systems a needed rest?

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    Re: I Think I Have My Lactate Threshold...What Next?

    Perhaps I was a little overtrained going into this training cycle, but I am not sure. However, I do believe that this training is raising my lactate threshold, allowing me to swim faster, at a higher HR, without being forced to tap fully into the anaerobic system. In essence, more of my energy comes from the aerobic system than the anaerobic system. This cuts down on blood lactate and all the other things that slow you down.

    It would probably be more illustrative to look at a swimmer much faster than me, lol. But hat is my theory for now as to what is happening.

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