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Training Bible Studies with Joe and Dirk Friel -Different sports, different thresholds

  • By VeloNews.com
  • Published Apr. 12, 2004
  • Updated Nov. 29, 2012 at 5:46 PM EST

By Joe Friel and Dirk Friel

Dear Joe,
I am 41-years-old and I do just about any activity that involves cycling, including triathlons and duathlons. One of the things that I noticed is that I can maintain a higher heart rate running than I can while on my bike.

Is there a different lactate threshold heart rate (LTHR) for running than there is for cycling?
Thank you,
Steven Crane

Dear Steven,
Yes. Actually, this is quite normal for an athlete to have differences in heart rate at lactate threshold for different sports.

Part of the answer involves the amount of muscle fibers used within different sports. Running simply uses more muscle fibers when compared to cycling, and, as a result, your heart rate tends to be higher when running, though the difference isn’t always so clear in all individuals.

The same rule of thumb generally holds true if you, for example, compare cross-country skiing to cycling. The involvement of your arms, back muscles and other elements not used in cycling will result in higher heart rates, as well. If you record a large difference between your run versus your bike LTHR then you will need to consider establishing different training intensity zones for each sport. The best way to determine heart rate zones is by calculating them off of your LTHR. You can refer to the Training Bible book, or use the zone calculator that we have on www.TrainingBible.com, to help you determine your sport specific zones.
Good luck
Joe and Dirk Friel

Dear Dirk and Joe
I am just getting over having a stomach virus and the flu. I have not been able to eat anything significant to “fuel” any training effort, let alone regular daily functioning.

I know how “The Cyclist’s Training Bible” describes base training, but which aspect of the base should I resume (Base 1, 2, or 3)? When can racing resume after the base recuperation period following an illness?

Thank you for all of your time and help and I do not wish any of the combined symptoms I had over the past few days to anyone… not even the sprinters!Shaun

Shaun,
That’s a good question. For every day you’re sick it can take anywhere from one to three days of base training to get you back where you were before the illness.

The reason to revert back to base training after illness is because you will almost always have a lowered endurance and aerobic capability after being sick. Your red blood cell count, or oxygen carrying capacity, may be dramatically lower, so you need to slowly build back the basic elements of fitness in your comeback.

The purpose of the base period is to raise aerobic efficiency and increase endurance so I would concentrate on gradually increasing the training volume and work mostly within heart rate zones 1 and 2.

After a few days of fitness improvement, you might progress to muscular endurance work, or zone 3, with short five- to ten-minute efforts. These may progress to one longer 20- to 30-minute interval. After you get to this point and you are comfortable with your progress, you may increase the intensity and gradually move back to where you had planned to be prior to being sick. Don’t rush fitness and take it day-by-day, as you start to train after being sick.
Good luck,
Joe and Dirk Friel


Joe Friel is the author of “TheCyclist’s Training bible.” Dirk Friel is a co-founder of TrainingBible.comand coaches along with Joe at Ultrafit Associates. For more informationon coaching and training software please visit www.Ultrafit.comand www.TrainingBible.com.If you have questions for this column, please send them to veloquestions@ultrafit.com

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