Threshold Training

March 5, 2010 // Al Kavadlo

Threshold training is one of the best ways to improve performance in middle distance running. Sometimes called tempo running, threshold training involves trying to take your body right to the edge, without falling off the cliff.

If you were to rate your intensity on a scale of 1-10 during a run, a comfortable jog might rank as a 6, with an all out sprint being a 10. While interval running has you alternate between those two extremes, the goal of threshold training is to stay at an 8 or 9 for as long as possible, remaining on the brink of exhaustion without crossing over the line.

Some people like to use heart rate monitors during threshold training to monitor their intensity. You can also use a stop watch, or simply use the honor system and go by your perceived level of effort based on the 1-10 scale.

After a 5-10 minute warm-up, your threshold run should last between 20-45 minutes. Most people cannot maintain a high level of intensity for much longer than that, though really fit people might be able to push it to an hour.

Threshold training is a great way to increase your lactic acid threshold, which in turn will increase your speed. Lactic acid builds up as a by-product of muscle contraction during exercise. A person whose body has been conditioned to intense training runs is better able to handle the build up of lactic acid and therefore doesn’t experience the nausea that can be associated with it.

Over time, speeds that used to seem fast can start to feel comfortable. When used once or twice a week in a program that also includes high intensity interval training and active recovery workouts, threshold training can be a great tool to increase both your speed and your mental toughness.