Can you complete/compete at the 140.6 distance w/ only 10 hrs of training per week?

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Lactate Balance Point (LBP) Case Study, etc.

As most of you know, I am a big fan of using power, HR, and lactate response in training and racing. Lets face it, there are many variables an athlete can dial in on to determine race strategy. I have found that using the Lactate Balance Point (LBP) testing methods to be essential in my IM preparation.

In this post I will highlight the phenomenal training adaptions that have taken place for one of my athletes per the use of the LBP. Brian Warren (IMF 2010 goal event) had his first LBP test with me on December 9, 2009. We most recently executed a follow up LBP to further assess his progress. Below is the data that reflects these two testing days:

9-Dec-09 15-Jun-10
Initial Performance Line Data
Watts HR RF O2% Watts HR diff. RF diff. O2%
100 143 18 95 100 130 -13 22 4 98
120 147 18 95 120 136 -11 22 4 98
140 160 20 97 140 145 -15 22 2 97
160 168 24 98 160 154 -14 24 0 96
180 176 26 96 180 158 -18 26 0 97
200 183 32 94 200 162 -21 24 -8 95
220 189 40 96 220 175 -14 24 -16 96
240 195 46 95 240 178 -17 28 -18 95
260 186 NA 32 NA 95
280 192 NA 48 NA 95
-15.4 -4
Initial Blood Lactate Sample
9-Dec 10-Jun 9-Dec 10-Jun 9-Dec 10-Jun
240 280 195 192 10.4 8.9
LBP Data
9-Dec 10-Jun 9-Dec 10-Jun 9-Dec 10-Jun
120 140 160 158 10.9 10.4
135 155 167 163 8.2 7.8
150 170 175 168 6.6 5.2
165 185 178 172 5.6 5.0
180 200 184 175 5.7 5.2

As this test was unfolding I had to bite my tongue and refrain from expressing how stoked I was regarding the improvement seen in the data. You can see that at the SAME watts Brian was operating on average 15.4 beats less then his previous test. That is significant change! Moreover, you will notice his respiration rate (RR) dropped significantly as he approached LBP and beyond!

Why the change in both variables?
Brian has been training at intensities that promote left ventricle enlargement, which would increase both his cardiac output and stroke volume. This was made very evident in the data above.

You will also see a significant difference is RR as well. I believe this is a result of increasing the muscular endurance of his diaphragm. In other words, at intensities above his LBP the muscles associated with breathing have become more fatigue resistant.

In addition, one can also argue that his arterio-venous (A-V) O2 difference has improved as well. Put in simplistic terms, his ability to deliver and remove O2/CO2 to working muscles has improved. One would also be able to argue that his capillary density has increased, which allows this delivery/extraction process to take place at a greater capacity/rate.

We could continue here, but I think we get the point that Brian has seen some signficant central/ peripheral adpations in the last 6 months.

How does this benefit him?
Brian is now able to pump more oxygen rich blood (per beat of his heart) to his working muscles. This in return will allow him to keep his body in a more oxygen dependent (vs. oxygen independent) state which will promote a higher reliance/use of fatty acids vs. blood glucose/muscle glycogen/liver glycogen.

Take Home Point:
Here is the kicker. Take a look at how his LBP changed signficantly. In Dec he rocked out a LBP of 5.6 mmol at 165 watts. In this test he busted out a LBP of 5.0 mmol at 185 watts! I almost blew a gasket when I saw a 20 watt improvement with less lactate. Brian has 'earned' himself another 20 watts to play with at a lower lactate concentration and HR. You simply can't beat that.

IM relevancy. Okay, bringing it even closer to home here. We all have seen how ones HR can drift or increase quite a bit from the first mile to the last mile on the bike (or run). This can take place even when an athelete perceives the intensity to be the same from mile 1 to mile 101. This is where I stress the importance of using both power and HR numbers to your benefit.

Brian is now able to use data that was determined via this CP20 (Critical Power 20 min test) and associate it against the LBP. What I have found with most of my athletes is their LBP is typically 15 to 20 beats below their IM wattage ranges. For Brian, I have his IM wattage ranges at 174 to 190.

So, in his case he has plenty of wiggle room when starting off for his 112 mile bike leg come November 6, 2010. What do I mean by 'wiggle room'? A real life example will hammer home my point here.

On June 6, 2010 Brian executed an almost 4 hr ride that covered 69 miles. In this ride his average power was 172 watts and his average HR was 152 beats. For this ride he was 20 beats lower then his LBP of 172 bpm! This pacing allowed Brian to fuel and hydrate efficiently and set the stage for a solid run off the bike. This pacing also allowed room for the inevitable drifting that we all see when on the bike for 4 to 6 hrs. Brian will likely find his HR working up to the mid 160s in November, but he will be doing so with the confidence that his body is utilizing more fatty acids then glycogen (per the lactate responses noted above).

So, the point here is that at his current fitness level Brian is able to delve deeply into the fatty acids and spare the very limited glycogen stores for later in the day. THIS IS A HUGE positive for him and will allow him to tackle the run with more fuel in the tank and with fresher legs.

Lots to process here friends, but its all good stuff.

I will continue to share my thoughts, methods, strategies as we move all the closer to IMF.

Always remember to use both power and HR to your advantage. When used properly, these two metrics can seriously bolster performance!

Train smart...
Coach L

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