The Science Behind Double Threshold Running: Unraveling the Secrets of Improved Performance

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Written By Matthew Brunken

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Science of double threshold running

As a runner, I’ve always been fascinated by various training methods designed to enhance performance, and one that has caught my attention recently is the double-threshold run. Developed in Norway, this innovative approach to endurance training aims to achieve the highest possible volume at the threshold intensity, setting it apart from other methods that focus on fatiguing athletes. So, let’s dive into the science behind this intriguing strategy and see how it works.

First things first—what exactly is a double-threshold run? While traditional threshold runs involve maintaining a constant pace below the lactate threshold, the double-threshold system incorporates periods of rest to allow for faster overall speeds without excessive lactate build-up. This contrast from continuous threshold runs provides a better balance between speed and lactate levels, making it an effective technique for improving endurance and aerobic capacity.

“Check Strava, a lot of people do double thresholds and keeps silent”

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Another unique aspect of the double-threshold run is its adaptability to various race distances. Runners from 1500m specialists to marathoners can benefit from this method, as the aerobic contribution is a crucial factor in both short and long races. By effectively managing lactate levels and keeping the intensity at the right level, the double-threshold run can be a game-changer for athletes looking to take their running performance to new heights.

Double threshold training for nude running chart

Understanding the Double-Threshold Run

Lactate Threshold

One key concept in the double-threshold run is the lactate threshold (LT). As I increase my pace during a run, my body produces more lactate, a byproduct of the anaerobic energy production. At low to moderate intensities, my body can effectively clear out lactate, maintaining a balance. However, as the intensity increases, there comes a point where the production of lactate exceeds my body’s ability to remove it, causing lactate levels to accumulate. This point is referred to as the lactate threshold.

Understanding my lactate threshold is essential for optimizing my training as a runner or an athlete. Training near or slightly above my LT can improve my body’s ability to clear and utilize lactate, resulting in a higher lactate threshold over time. This enables me to sustain a faster pace for longer durations.

Ventilatory Thresholds

Another critical aspect of the double-threshold run is understanding the relationship between ventilatory thresholds (VT) and training intensity. There are two primary ventilatory thresholds: the first ventilatory threshold (VT1) and the second ventilatory threshold (VT2).

At my first ventilatory threshold (VT1), my body starts to increase its breathing rate to keep up with the demand for oxygen. This occurs at an intensity slightly below my lactate threshold, where my body primarily relies on aerobic metabolism. Approaching VT1 during my training can provide benefits for endurance and aerobic fitness.

During higher-intensity training, I cross the second ventilatory threshold (VT2). At this point, my breathing rate increases even more substantially due to the rising levels of lactate and carbon dioxide in my blood. The point at which my breath reaches this level is closely related to my lactate threshold and is also considered a critical training zone for improving my ability to maintain high-intensity efforts.

In conclusion, the double-threshold run focuses on understanding the lactate threshold and the ventilatory thresholds to maximize my training efficiency as a runner or athlete. By incorporating training that zones in on these thresholds, I can improve my ability to sustain higher intensities for longer periods, ultimately enhancing my overall performance.

The Science and Physiology Behind Double-Threshold Running

When I train using the double-threshold method, I focus on two critical physiological points: the first ventilatory threshold (LT1) and the second ventilatory threshold (LT2). These thresholds help to determine the intensity at which my body switches from predominantly aerobic metabolism to anaerobic metabolism. By training around these thresholds, I aim to improve my endurance and running performance.

At LT1, my heart rate is below my maximum heart rate, and aerobic metabolism is the primary energy system. During this phase, I experience a low accumulation of lactate in my blood, generally staying under 2 mmol of lactate. At this intensity, my cardiovascular system efficiently provides oxygen to my working muscles, and I can maintain a comfortable pace for longer durations. A Norwegian approach to running training emphasizes the importance of zone 1 training, which includes very easy running up to more steady running for advanced athletes.

As I increase the intensity, I eventually reach the second ventilatory threshold (LT2). This point is associated with higher heart rates and higher lactate production, generally between 2 and 4 mmol of lactate. At LT2, my body transitions from aerobic to anaerobic metabolism, and my glycolysis rate increases. During this phase, my cardiovascular system struggles to provide enough oxygen to my muscles, leading to more rapid fatigue. I can only maintain this intensity for a shorter duration. A great resource on the complexity of threshold training for trail running discusses how this training can help improve athletic performance.

To better understand the physiology behind the double-threshold method, I sometimes undergo lactate testing during my training. This testing measures my blood lactate levels to determine my LT1 and LT2 points more accurately. By incorporating double-threshold runs into my training plan, I can target the specific heart rate zones and physiological adaptations that contribute to improved endurance and overall running performance.

Benefits and Applications of Double-Threshold Runs

Improved Aerobic Fitness

In my training, I’ve found that double-threshold runs are an effective method to improve aerobic fitness. These workouts involve alternating between higher and lower intensity intervals, which helps to increase aerobic capacity and VO2max. By consistently incorporating double-threshold runs into my training plan, I’ve seen improvements in my overall fitness and have noticed my body’s ability to utilize oxygen more efficiently during exercise.

Enhanced Endurance Performance

As a long-distance runner, I’ve discovered that double-threshold runs can greatly enhance my endurance performance. By targeting different energy systems, especially during the higher intensity intervals, I’m able to improve my speed and running economy. The combination of faster and slower intervals also allows me to maintain a higher overall pace throughout a marathon, making me stronger and faster over longer distances.

Reduced Fatigue

Double-threshold runs have helped me greatly in managing fatigue. Incorporating both high intensity and lower-intensity intervals, these workouts have taught my body how to recover more quickly during periods of rest. This is especially beneficial when I’m preparing for a race, as it helps me develop my ability to maintain a faster pace with less fatigue. By including double-threshold runs in my training plan, I’ve noticed that I’m able to recover more rapidly between intervals and experience less overall fatigue during longer runs, such as tempo runs or marathons.

Double-Threshold Training Techniques

Threshold Pace and Workouts

Threshold training is an essential part of any runner’s routine. Threshold pace, typically measured as a percentage of a person’s ventilatory threshold, is the key concept in these workouts. When I perform threshold runs, I maintain a pace that I could sustain for about an hour, allowing me to improve my aerobic capacity efficiently.

Elite athletes, marathoners, and long-distance runners often incorporate threshold workouts into their training schedules. These workouts can range from tempo runs to interval sessions, with the main goal of increasing aerobic capacity and overall endurance.

Tempo Runs and Intervals

As a runner focused on performance, I prefer to split my threshold training into tempo runs and intervals. Tempo runs are continuous runs performed at or near the threshold pace, usually for 20-40 minutes. Intervals, on the other hand, involve alternating between fast and slow segments at threshold pace or higher. This variability helps both the aerobic and anaerobic systems, making it perfect for 1500m runners and long-distance athletes.

Polarized, Pyramidal, and Norwegian Models

When planning my training schedule, I often consider various approaches like polarized, pyramidal, and Norwegian training models. Polarized training divides training into three distinct zones: easy days (zone 1), threshold pace (zone 2), and high-intensity intervals (zone 3). I typically spend about 80% of my time in zone 1 and the remaining 20% in zones 2 and 3.

As a long-distance runner, I also try the pyramidal model, which involves spending most of my training time in moderate-intensity (zone 2) pace. This approach is effective for developing base aerobic capacity.

The Norwegian model, on the other hand, focuses on double-threshold sessions with varying speeds and distances while maintaining an overall threshold effort level. Endurance athletes like the Ingebrigtsen brothers have found great success with such an approach. Typical Norwegian-style workouts include 5 x 2K or 6-minutes with 2-minute rests and 25 x 400m with 30-second rests.

In conclusion, finding the right balance in your training is crucial for every runner, regardless of the distance or level of competition. Experimenting with different training approaches and staying consistent with threshold workouts can do wonders in improving performance and overall endurance.

Monitoring and Evaluation of Double-Threshold Training

Lactate Monitors and Testing

In my approach to double-threshold training, I find it helpful to use lactate monitors to track my progress. Lactate monitors provide valuable information about my body’s ability to efficiently process lactate during exercise. By analyzing the lactate curve, I can pinpoint my lactate threshold and subsequently tailor my training to improve it. I often test my lactate levels during and after workouts, making it easy to see how my body reacts to different intensities and pacing.

Maximal Aerobic Speed and VO2 Max

Another critical element of monitoring my double-threshold training is evaluating my Maximal Aerobic Speed (MAS) and VO2 Max. These metrics help me understand my aerobic capacity and the efficiency of my oxygen consumption during exercise. I use the Outside+ app to track my MAS and VO2 Max, allowing me to monitor my improvements and make adjustments to my training as needed.

VO2 Max is tested periodically at an exercise physiology lab, where my performance is evaluated under controlled conditions. This allows me to obtain an accurate measure of my aerobic capacity and make informed decisions about my training.

Double threshold training girl track

Assessing Progress and Adjusting Training

I continually assess my progress in double-threshold training by incorporating different types of runs and workouts, such as marathon-pace efforts, strides, and hill repeats. I monitor changes in my lactate threshold, MAS, and VO2 Max to gauge my progress and make necessary adjustments to my training plan.

While monitoring my progress, I make sure to take notes on how I feel during different workouts and evaluate their effectiveness. I consider multiple factors such as heart rate, recovery times, and perceived exertion to get a well-rounded understanding of my performance.

By closely monitoring my lactate levels, aerobic capacity, and overall performance, I can make data-driven decisions to optimize my double-threshold training and reach my running goals.

Incorporating Double-Threshold Runs into a Training Program

Balancing Intensity with Recovery

In my training program, I’ve noticed the importance of balancing intensity with recovery. Double-threshold runs, popularized by the Ingebrigtsen brothers, involve two high-intensity threshold sessions in a single day. These workouts are meant to push me to my lactate threshold while minimizing injury risk. To avoid overtraining, I make sure to spend the other days focusing on recovery, easy running, and aerobic work. By doing this, I’m able to maintain a balance between pushing my limits and recovering adequately.

Strength Training and Aerobic Base Building

My training program also includes strength training and building an aerobic base. Strength training helps me improve my running economy and overall running performance. Kristian Blummenfelt, a successful Norwegian triathlete, attributes his performance to a combination of high-intensity threshold training and strength work. Building a strong aerobic base through long, easy runs complements the double-threshold sessions. This allows me to develop endurance and be better prepared for the intense demands of threshold training.

Planning and Periodization

To incorporate double-threshold runs effectively into my training program, I also utilize planning and periodization. This involves dividing my training into specific periods or cycles, each with a particular focus. For example, during my base training phase, I concentrate on:

  • Building aerobic endurance through long, slow runs
  • Gradually introducing strength training
  • Developing proper running form and technique

In the specific training phase, I then start to include:

  • Double-threshold runs, typically twice per week
  • Tempo runs and intervals designed to improve my speed and stamina
  • Further developing my strength and power through targeted exercises

By planning my training in this manner, I can ensure that I am well-prepared for the demands of double-threshold sessions while also minimizing the risk of injury and overtraining.

Glossary of Key Terms and Concepts

As I delve into the science behind the double-threshold run, I’m providing this glossary of key terms and concepts to help readers better understand this training technique.

  • Glossary: A glossary is a list of terms in a particular domain of knowledge with definitions for those terms. In this case, it pertains to the science and concepts behind double-threshold runs.
  • Cool down: The cool down phase, which typically follows a workout, is when I gradually decrease the intensity of my exercise to bring my body back to its resting state. This can prevent injury and accelerate recovery.
  • Threshold running: Threshold running involves working at a pace where lactic acid begins accumulating in muscles, as it is produced faster than the body can clear it. I usually aim for this pace during moderate-to-high intensity workouts to improve my endurance and fitness.
  • Ventilatory thresholds: Ventilatory thresholds are physiological markers that indicate transitions in the body’s response to exercise intensity. They’re typically divided into two types: Ventilatory Threshold 1 (VT1), which represents the transition from aerobic to anaerobic metabolism, and Ventilatory Threshold 2 (VT2), the point at which I can no longer sustain the intensity of my workout due to high amounts of lactic acid accumulation.
  • 5k pace: The 5k pace is the targeted pace that I would aim to maintain throughout a 5-kilometer run or race. Training at or near this pace helps me develop the necessary skills, endurance, and mental toughness for maintaining that pace during an actual race.

The science behind the double-threshold run integrates these key terms and concepts to help create a comprehensive training approach. By understanding and applying them, I can enhance my running performance and adapt my workouts for optimal results.

Double threshold training is same for nude and clothed racers

As a runner, I find double threshold training to be a fantastic way to improve my overall performance and endurance. This method, originating from the Norwegian double threshold system, focuses on attaining the highest possible volume at threshold intensity. Whether participating in nude running, a nude 5k, or any other nude racing event, I discovered that the principles of double threshold training remain consistent and equally effective for both nude and clothed racers.

When taking part in a nude race, it might seem like racing without clothing could affect the execution of double threshold training, but I found this not to be the case. Although factors like temperature, wind resistance, and a different tactile experience may play a role in the overall running experience, the core principles of double threshold training do not change.

Training in a double threshold routine involves breaking up the total running time into two sessions, allowing for ample recovery time in between. For example, I found that running two sets of 30 minutes at threshold intensity with a 20-30 minute break in between allowed me to achieve a higher volume at my threshold pace.

In both nude racing and clothed racing events, maintaining a focus on monitoring heart rate and adjusting the intensity accordingly is critical. By keeping track of my heart rate during training sessions, I could maintain the desired lactate threshold level, which ultimately helped improve my stamina and performance in races of all formats.

Moreover, I found that the primary difference in participating in nude running events is the unique and liberating experience it provides, rather than any major impact on my training routines. The principles of double threshold training stand just as strong for those who prefer the exhilarating freedom of nude races as they do for those who choose to run in traditional clothing.

In essence, whether one partakes in nude running, a nude 5k, or other nude racing events, the science and techniques behind double threshold training apply equally to runners in all situations. Adapting this training method for personal schedules and needs, while accounting for various race formats, allows both nude and clothed racers to enhance their performance and reach new milestones in their athletic journeys.

Analytics Tells Us the Science Behind the Double Threshold Run Improves Vo2 Max

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