Tuesday or Wednesday are typically intensity days when I program. Those who followed my MAX EFFORT BLACK BOX approach may recall the STRESS LEVEL RUNNING that fell on Tuesday each week.
Recently I have been using an auto regulatory approach to intensity days and I really like the results.
As the title indicates, the work and recovery are determined by the readiness of the athlete rather than a predetermined distance or time worked followed by a predetermined distance or time for recovery. Those who are at their best can perform more while those experiencing an off day will be performing fewer repeats and recover slower.
To do this properly you will need:
A chest strap and monitoring tool (sorry photoplethysmography (PPG) found in wrist monitors lack accuracy at this point so it’s a no go).
Your max heart rate. A million different formulas so for the best results perform a max heart rate assessment. Don’t forget the mode specific values. For example, running will typically be 10 beats per minute higher than cycling.
Once you have your max, you will calculate the number that is 70% and 90%* of max. These are the two end ranges you will use during the session. The interval session will consist of increasing the effort up to the 90% value and then recovering to the 70% value.
To start the session, follow a general warm up procedure of around 5-10 minutes. Then select your training mode and warm up for another five minutes. When you are ready pick up the pace and work your heart rate up to that top number. Be specific! Once you have reach that top end, slow your pace and effort until you reach the lower value. The point where you reach that 70 percent value begin the next repeat.
Observational study shows that really fit individuals are ready to go again in around 45 seconds while de-conditioned and fatigued athletes will take twice as long. This can be an interesting study of your fitness when practiced over time.
I generally start people out at 10-15 minutes and build the session length over weeks. Keeping a keen eye on trending HRV can also reveal adaptation and improvements in fitness. Keep this at one session per week unless you are training for a paycheck. More sessions rarely translates into more fitness.
Give this auto-regulated interval a shot and ping me back with your results.
*Athletes with no illness or injury within the last 12 months can use 95% of max.