Double Threshold Training: Running Workouts Backed by Science and Expert Coaching

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Written By Matthew Brunken

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Double threshold training is a revolutionary approach to endurance training that’s been gaining attention over the last few years. The primary goal of this system is to maximize an athlete’s anaerobic threshold, which is the intensity level that can be sustained for extended periods without accumulating excessive lactic acid in the bloodstream. By targeting both lactate threshold and ventilatory threshold, double threshold training enables athletes to optimize their performance, especially in distance running events.

Though it originates from Norway, the popularity of double threshold training has spread across the globe due to its effectiveness in improving endurance and reducing injury risks. Coaches and athletes alike have been utilizing this training method to create personalized programs that cater to an individual’s strengths and weaknesses. As a result, double threshold training is becoming an essential component of many athletes’ regimens, particularly those who compete in distance running disciplines.

Key Takeaways

  • Double threshold training focuses on maximizing an athlete’s anaerobic threshold for improved endurance performance.
  • Originating from Norway, this training approach has gained worldwide popularity due to its effectiveness and injury prevention benefits.
  • Personalized programs that cater to individual strengths and weaknesses are a critical aspect of double threshold training success.

Fundamentals of Double Threshold Training

As an athlete, understanding and incorporating double threshold training into your routine can boost your performance significantly. This innovative training method aims to increase both your aerobic and anaerobic thresholds by engaging in two intensity-controlled workouts in a single day.

In simple terms, your anaerobic threshold is the point at which lactic acid accumulates faster in your blood than your body can remove it. By raising this threshold, you can perform at a higher intensity before reaching your limit. Conversely, your aerobic threshold refers to the intensity at which your body transitions from primarily using aerobic energy systems to anaerobic energy systems. Training at an appropriate intensity can help increase lactate levels in your blood, consequently raising both thresholds.

Double threshold training often consists of two distinct sessions: an AM and a PM workout. These workouts aim to push your thresholds by maintaining a specific threshold intensity throughout each exercise. The exercises vary between different distances and repetitions, targeting different energy systems and muscle groups.

For example, a typical double threshold training day could consist of:

  • AM: 5x2000m at threshold intensity
  • PM: 10x1000m at threshold intensity

Incorporating this training method into your routine can improve various aspects of running performance, including your ventilatory thresholds – the points at which your breathing increases dramatically in response to rising lactate levels. As you become more efficient at handling lactate, your ventilatory thresholds will also rise, allowing you to push yourself harder for longer durations.

Keep in mind that this approach should be tailored to your individual goals, fitness levels, and race distances. Double threshold training has proven to be effective for athletes ranging from 1500m to 10000m runners, but always consult with your coach or an expert before implementing any new training methods into your routine.

Historical Background and Influencers

The concept of double threshold training can be traced back to the Norwegian model, which has gained significant attention in recent years for its success in endurance sports. Some of the key influencers in the development and popularization of this training method include Renato Canova, Marius Bakken, and the Ingebrigtsen brothers.

Norwegian coach Renato Canova has been a significant force in the world of distance running, known for his innovative training methods and successful athletes. His emphasis on maximizing an athlete’s anaerobic threshold has inspired coaches like Marius Bakken and the Ingebrigtsen family to adopt similar practices in their own training programs.

In their quest for excellence, the Ingebrigtsen brothers—Henrik, Filip, and Jakob—have incorporated elements of Canova’s training philosophy into their own regimen. The Ingebrigtsen training system has gained international recognition for its role in the brothers’ remarkable achievements in middle-distance running.

Double threshold training has also found its way into other endurance sports, such as triathlon. Norwegian triathletes Kristian Blummenfelt and Gustav Iden have applied similar training techniques in their pursuit of athletic success. The method’s effectiveness has been demonstrated not only for elite athletes but across different endurance sports too.

Swedish middle-distance runner Kalle Berglund is another example of a successful athlete employing double threshold training. Much like the Norwegian model, his training focuses on improving lactate thresholds through intense interval workouts. The key aspect is the use of two sessions on the same day, with the first targeting one intensity level and the second targeting another, slightly higher level, thereby working to maximize an athlete’s aerobic capacity.

In summary, the historical background of double threshold training is rooted in the Norwegian model, with influential figures such as Renato Canova, Marius Bakken, and the Ingebrigtsen brothers playing key roles in its development and popularization. This method has been effectively employed by athletes from various endurance sports like running and triathlon, confirming its adaptability and potential to bring success in the competitive world of endurance sports.

Key Training Approaches

Norwegian Approach

As you look to improve your endurance training, consider the Norwegian Approach, which incorporates double threshold training and focuses on pushing the anaerobic threshold to its limits. In this approach, you will be working on your lactate threshold and embracing the polarized training method.

With polarized training, your workouts are divided into three intensity zones:

  • Zone 1: Low-intensity, easy-paced workouts
  • Zone 2: Moderate-intensity, lactate threshold sessions
  • Zone 3: High-intensity, VO2 max workouts

The majority of your training time will be spent in Zone 1 and Zone 3, with a minimal focus on Zone 2. This distribution of effort allows you to develop both your aerobic base and your top-end speed without overtaxing your body.

Canova’s Special Block

Another key approach to endurance training is Canova’s Special Block, a methodology developed by renowned coach Renato Canova. In this approach, you’ll focus on controlled intervals and lactate threshold to build your stamina and speed.

Canova’s approach is more closely related to the pyramidal training method, with gradual increases in intensity throughout your training plan. Here, you’ll spend most of your time in Zone 2, pushing your lactate threshold higher over time.

When implementing Canova’s Special Block, you can expect to engage in the following types of workouts:

  • Tempo runs: These moderately paced, sustained efforts will help improve your endurance by challenging your lactate threshold.
  • Cruise intervals: Shorter, faster intervals will stress your aerobic system, pushing your anaerobic threshold upward.

Both the Norwegian Approach and Canova’s Special Block can be combined with the double threshold system, allowing you to maximize your performance and adaptability. As an endurance athlete, it’s crucial to explore these training models and find the one that best aligns with your individual goals and physiology.

Training Intensity Distribution and Zones

As an aspiring athlete, understanding Training Intensity Distribution (TID) is crucial in designing your workout plan to improve your aerobic capacity, cardiovascular system, and overall endurance. TID refers to the proportion of time assigned to various intensity zones during training. In this section, we will discuss the importance of intensity zones and their effects on your progress.

There are three primary TID types: pyramidal training, polarized training, and threshold training1. Each TID has its unique approach in organizing the time spent in various intensity zones. To make the most of your workouts, you should familiarize yourself with these training intensity zones:

  1. Low-Intensity Zone (Zone 1): This zone is where you’ll perform most of your training, focusing on enhancing your aerobic capacity. Elite endurance athletes often spend around 80% of their training at this low-intensity level2. Your heart rate (HR) in this zone is typically below 75% of your maximum HR, allowing you to maintain a steady pace while targeting your cardiovascular system.
  2. Moderate-Intensity Zone (Zone 2): This zone is where you’ll perform some of your training, working to further improve your cardiovascular system and develop a higher lactate threshold3. In this zone, your HR is between 75% to 85% of your maximum HR, and you should be able to hold a conversation while exercising.
  3. High-Intensity Zone (Zone 3): This zone is where you’ll perform a smaller portion of your training, focusing on high-intensity interval training (HIIT) sessions, which enable you to enhance your power and speed. Your HR in this zone is above 85% of your maximum HR2.

Incorporating these intensity zones ensures a well-rounded training program, allowing your body to adapt to different stress levels and stimuli as you progress. As you design your workout plan, remember that the optimal TID and intensity zones may vary depending on your specific goals, fitness levels, and individual response to training.

Footnotes

  1. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29182410/

  2. https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fphys.2015.00295/full 2

  3. https://www.lboro.ac.uk/sport/news/2020/april/training-zones/

Effective Workouts and Strategies

Tempo Runs and Intervals

Incorporating tempo runs and intervals into your double threshold training program is key to developing endurance and controlled speed. A tempo run is a continuous workout at or near your lactate threshold, while interval training involves alternating periods of high-intensity running with recovery intervals. Both of these workouts help improve your race pace and overall fitness.

During tempo runs, focus on maintaining a steady pace slightly faster than your half-marathon pace for 15 to 30 minutes. This type of run improves your lactate threshold and builds mental toughness. For interval workouts, try alternating between 3 to 15 minutes at your threshold pace and 1 to 2 minutes of rest. This helps increase the total volume of threshold running while minimizing fatigue1.

Long-Distance and Marathon Pace

Building strength and endurance for long-distance events requires targeted training at your marathon pace. Double threshold training can be particularly beneficial when preparing for a half-marathon or full marathon. To implement this, you can perform two separate threshold workouts on the same day, separated by several hours of recovery.

A possible arrangement might include a morning session consisting of 5x2000m at your threshold pace, followed by an evening session with 10x1000m or 25x400m at the same intensity2. This training approach enables you to accumulate a higher volume of threshold running, increasing your aerobic capacity and teaching your body to maintain race pace for longer distances.

Strides and 400m Repeats

Strides and 400m repeats are an essential aspect of double threshold training, particularly for improving running economy and leg strength. These short, fast bursts also help prevent injuries by developing proper running form.

Incorporate strides into your training by accelerating to 95% of your maximum speed for 100m after an easy run or during your warm-up, focusing on smooth and efficient form. Begin with four to six strides and gradually increase the number and speed as you become more comfortable.

For 400m repeats, take on eight to twelve repetitions at 5k race pace, recovering with an easy jog or walk in between. The aim is to maintain a consistent pace through all the repeats while working on your leg turnover and technique.

Remember, throughout your double threshold training journey, it’s crucial to stay consistent, pay close attention to your body’s signals, and, most importantly, have fun pushing yourself to new limits.

Footnotes

  1. Laura Norris Running – How to use threshold runs in your training

  2. Running Trips – Norwegian double threshold system and how it differs from a Canova special block

Monitoring Lactate Levels and Ventilatory Threshold

Incorporating both the lactate threshold and ventilatory threshold in your training regimen can significantly improve your athletic performance. By monitoring these two variables, you can optimize workout intensity and establish a personalized exercise plan designed to enhance your endurance.

Lactate monitors are essential tools for tracking your lactate levels during workouts. These devices measure lactate concentration in your bloodstream, providing real-time data that informs you when to adjust the intensity of your training. By staying within your optimal lactate threshold range, you can prevent excessive lactate accumulation, which can lead to fatigue and decreased performance.

The ventilatory threshold is another crucial component in double threshold training. This metric represents the point at which your breathing rate increases disproportionately to your oxygen uptake. Identifying your ventilatory threshold helps you determine the appropriate intensity for your workouts. Recent findings support the idea that establishing individual exercise intensity based on ventilatory thresholds (VT 1 and VT 2) can foster a targeted and efficient endurance sports training regimen.

Understanding the lactate shuttling mechanism is vital to maximizing your training. This physiological process involves the transportation of lactate between different tissues in your body. By shuttling lactate between muscles, organs, and the bloodstream, your body converts and uses it as an energy source. Developing your lactate shuttling mechanism can lead to improved lactate clearance and stronger endurance during training.

Finally, monitoring lactate accumulation enables you to adjust your training intensity to stay within your target lactate range. Too much lactate build-up can cause fatigue, limiting your ability to maintain an optimal workout intensity. Regularly assessing lactate accumulation helps you balance the intensity of your training sessions, thus promoting efficient energy utilization and overall better performance.

In summary, combining the monitoring of lactate levels and ventilatory threshold is vital to implementing an effective double threshold training program. By paying close attention to these parameters and adjusting your workouts accordingly, you can expect to experience tangible improvements in your endurance and athletic performance.

Incorporating Double Threshold Training for Various Athletes

Advanced Athletes

As an advanced athlete looking to improve your performance, consider incorporating double threshold training into your regimen. This training method focuses on pushing your anaerobic threshold to a sustainable level for long periods of time1. During a typical day of double threshold training, you might complete an AM session with 5x2000m at threshold pace, followed by a PM session of 10x1000m at threshold2. Consistently implementing these sessions will help increase your anaerobic threshold and improve overall performance.

Distance Runners and Trail Runners

For distance and trail running, the Norwegian approach emphasizes intensity-controlled threshold training and specific workouts3. As a distance or trail runner, you can benefit from incorporating double threshold sessions that focus on maintaining an intensity level between Zone 2 and Zone 34. This kind of training will help increase your lactate threshold and improve the efficiency at which you can maintain a challenging pace during a race.

Some possible workouts for distance and trail runners include:

  • AM: 5x2000m at threshold pace, PM: 10x1000m at threshold2
  • Fartlek runs with intervals in Zone 2 and Zone 3
  • Alternating between hilly and flat terrain to challenge different muscle groups and energy systems

Endurance Athletes and Cross-Country Skiers

Endurance athletes and cross-country skiers stand to gain significant benefits from the double threshold training approach. Focus on raising your anaerobic threshold, which will lead to an increased capacity to sustain higher intensity efforts for longer periods.

Incorporate specific workouts, such as:

  • Interval sessions on hills or flats, emphasizing threshold pace
  • Long cross-training workouts to build overall endurance and aerobic capacity

By consistently incorporating double threshold training into your regimen as an endurance athlete or cross-country skier, you will likely see improvements in your ability to maintain higher intensity efforts for longer periods, ultimately leading to better competitive results.

Footnotes

  1. LetsRun: Double Threshold Training Explained

  2. RunningTrips: Norwegian Double Threshold System 2

  3. TrailRunnerMag: Norwegian Approach to Running Training

  4. TrailRunnerMag: Threshold Training for Trail Running

Testing and Analysis

Testing and analysis in double threshold training play a crucial role in monitoring and progressing your athletic performance. To get the most from this training method, you should utilize proper tools and techniques to measure key parameters, such as VO2 max and critical speed.

To accurately evaluate your performance, consider conducting tests both in a lab setting and during outdoor training sessions. Lab tests will provide you detailed, scientific metrics, while outdoor testing gives you a practical understanding of your threshold levels in real-world conditions.

When taking part in lab testing, you’ll typically undergo a ramped exercise test to measure your VO2 max, which represents your maximal oxygen consumption and is closely related to your aerobic endurance. This test involves running on a treadmill while gradually increasing the speed and incline until exhaustion. Keep in mind that these tests should be performed by qualified professionals in reliable testing facilities.

While training outdoors, you can use various tools and apps, such as Strava, to record and analyze your running data. Monitoring factors like heart rate, pace, and distance will enable you to evaluate your double threshold performance outside the lab. Strava in particular, is a popular choice to log and share your training activities with other athletes.

Another essential aspect to measure is your critical speed, which represents the highest sustainable running speed that can be maintained without a progressive rise in blood lactate concentration. Monitoring your lactate levels can be done with portable devices, such as lactate meters, during training sessions. Measuring your critical speed can be beneficial in tailoring your double threshold workouts to your specific needs and ensuring optimal training intensity.

In summary, regular testing and analysis are crucial aspects of double threshold training. By effectively utilizing lab tests, outdoor training measurements, and popular apps, you can accurately track your progress and make informed decisions to optimize your workouts.

Case Studies and Research

In recent years, the “Norwegian Method” has gained recognition for transforming endurance training for athletes, both amateur and professional. At the center of this approach is the concept of double threshold training, which has propelled Norwegian runner Jakob Ingebrigtsen and others to the top of their sports.

As a coach or athlete, you might find it interesting to learn about the research and case studies that support this technique. One specific study examined the effect of periodization and training intensity on endurance performance, looking at pyramidal training, polarized training, and threshold training source. This can give you insights into the benefits and science underpinning double threshold training.

Some world-class middle and long-distance runners have adopted lactate-guided threshold interval training (LGTIT) within a high-volume, low-intensity approach source. The Norwegian model emphasizes consistent lactate monitoring, aiming for levels around 3.0 mmol or lower to optimize performance. Remarkably, some Kenyan runners have been reported to maintain lactate levels as low as 2.0 mmol during threshold intervals.

In the Norwegian approach, a notable workout is the “special block,” which entails a series of 800s at close to 5k pace. This is believed to improve endurance and running economy. The success of double threshold training is exemplified by Jakob Ingebrigtsen’s gold-winning performance at the 2019 World Championships in Doha. Under the guidance of his father, who has a background in exercise science and sports medicine, Ingebrigtsen was able to excel in his events.

Physiologists have suggested that the key to double threshold training’s effectiveness lies in its ability to manipulate lactate levels and increase muscular endurance. By strategically implementing intense efforts and monitoring lactate levels, you can fine-tune your endurance capacity and ultimately reach your performance goals.

Keep in mind that, as with any training method, it’s crucial to consider individual factors and customize the approach to fit your specific needs. Consulting with experts and using scientific, evidence-based methods will help you optimize your training and achieve your desired results.

Social Media and Athlete Profiles

In today’s digital age, social media plays a crucial role in the lives of athletes. As a coach or athlete, understanding the nuances of social media and its impact on athletic performance is essential. This section will explore the intersection of social media and athlete profiles and provide insight into the Norwegian approach to training theory.

Norwegian athletes are known to incorporate a unique training philosophy into their regimen, known as the Double Threshold training. This method emphasizes the importance of spending more time in the lower and upper intensity threshold zones, which promotes adaptation, endurance, and a strong aerobic foundation. Adapting this approach to your training can pave the way for better marathon and other endurance race performances.

When sharing your training progress and experiences through social media, it’s crucial to maintain a professional and well-curated online presence. This can involve showcasing your athletic achievements, promoting events, and connecting with fellow athletes and coaches. Additionally, social media platforms play a vital role in personal branding and sponsorship opportunities for athletes, particularly in competitive environments like the UK, where various sports receive international attention.

A valuable strategy to present your training progress on social media is to share insights into how the Norwegian approach, or other training theories, has positively impacted your performance. For example, you can share comparative data, such as improvements in marathon pace or training volume, to highlight the effectiveness of your chosen training approach.

When managing your social media presence, be mindful of the potential downsides, such as online harassment and unnecessary distractions that can impact your focus on training. To tackle this, consider undergoing specific training on the challenges posed by social media platforms, which will help you manage your online profiles and balance your athletic and digital lives effectively.

In summary, as an athlete or coach, understanding and utilizing social media can enhance your athletic profile, promotion, and potentially open up new opportunities. Adopting training methods like the Norwegian Double Threshold approach can help improve performance and create engaging content for your online presence. Stay mindful of the challenges social media poses and equip yourself with the necessary knowledge to manage your profiles effectively.

Frequently Asked Questions

How does double threshold training improve endurance?

Double threshold training improves endurance by helping your body become more efficient at utilizing lactate and increasing your overall aerobic capacity. This type of training challenges your body to maintain a higher pace for longer periods, ultimately boosting your endurance capacity.

What are the key principles of the Ingebrigtsen method?

The Ingebrigtsen method focuses on incorporating double threshold system into training programs. This includes structured workouts that alternate between high-intensity and low-intensity periods, allowing the body to adapt to different levels of lactate accumulation efficiently.

What impact does double threshold have on lactate levels?

During double threshold workouts, your body experiences varying lactate levels. The high-intensity phase leads to an accumulation of lactate, while the low-intensity phase allows your body to process and clear the lactate. Over time, your body becomes more efficient at handling increased lactate levels, resulting in improved performance.

How do you determine the best threshold pace for training?

To find the optimal threshold pace for your training, you should aim to maintain a pace that feels challenging yet sustainable. This pace is often referred to as “comfortably hard.” One useful strategy is to use a percentage of your maximum heart rate (HR) – typically around 85-90% of your max HR – as a guide to determine your threshold pace.

What are the differences between single and double threshold workouts?

In single threshold workouts, you maintain a consistent pace at or near your threshold level throughout the entire workout. Double threshold workouts, on the other hand, involve alternating between high and low intensities. This variation in intensity helps your body adapt to a broader range of lactate levels, potentially leading to improved overall performance.

Can double threshold training be used for non-running sports?

Yes, double threshold training can be applied to various sports and endurance activities such as cycling, swimming, and rowing. The key is to structure workouts that include both high-intensity and low-intensity periods to train the body to adapt to different lactate accumulation levels effectively.

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