Find your correct Training Zones and speed to the next level

Find your correct Training Zones and speed to the next level

Finding your correct Training Zones on the water

By Mick Di Betta

In endurance sports, three variables are of prime importance to performance: Vo2max, which is largely genetically determined, anaerobic threshold and economy. Although there is no real consensus on the definition of anaerobic threshold, we will admit it is equivalent to the OBLA, the onset of blood lactate accumulation or the intensity of exercise at which the production of lactate equals its clearance. Economy is generally determined as the percentage of the Vo2max sustained at a particular submaximal intensity.
So if we are to follow a training plan using these 3 variables as Training performance indicators we would need to know how to find these measures on the water in training and use them to prescribe Interval training sessions working within these Training parameters.

The V02MAX is slightly complicated to find and to use in training without expensive, sophisticated equipment.

If we are to separate vo2max in two variables: vVo2max and tlimVo2max. vVo2max is defined as the velocity at Vo2max, and tlimVo2max is the maximal time an athlete can sustain at vVo2max. But what is the point if Vo2max is genetically determined? Well, indeed it is, but vVO2max and tlimVo2max can be greatly improved through training. So first we need to find out what these vVo2max and tlim Vo2max numbers are and then how we can use them to prescribe a Training Plan.

Determining your vVo2max and tlimVo2max

When doing field tests, it is very important the tests are being done in similar conditions:
Test always at the same location (when possible), at the same time, and keep the same warm-up, recovery, training day before (easy) and if possible eat the same things the 24 hrs. before. Okay, to the test now.

  • Find a stretch of relatively sheltered water from wind and strong current and do a good warm up of 12 to 15 minutes, train up and back on the course you are about to use for the test.
  • Now depending on your paddling ability you will start paddling at a speed that you are comfortable at for 2 minutes and increase that speed by 0.5 km/h every 1 minute until you can no longer increase or hold that speed. (It usually means you have to slow down) This is your vVo2max, or at least an accurate estimate of it considering that you will reach your Vo2max between 3 to 8 minute once again depending on your paddling ability and conditioning : eg Elite Prone trainer (UL board) starting at 8 km/h, 8.5km/h, 9km/h, 9.5km/h, 10km/h, 10.5km/h, at 10.7km/h the trainer had to slow down and finished with a vVo2max speed of 10.7km/h
  • To determine your tlim Vo2max have a good recovery. At least 48 hrs later, you can determine your tlimVo2max by paddling as long as you can, maintaining your vVo2max. So in the case of the Elite Prone trainer, paddling at 10.7km/h for as long as he can maintain that speed will give him his time for tlim Vo2max and in this case it was 3 minutes 45 seconds.
  • Now you have two measurements of speed and duration that indicate your paddling conditioning that can be used to prescribe Training sessions and used for retesting paddling conditioning. Improving your vVo2max and tlim Vo2maxTraining sessions at vVo2max have been “traditional” sessions among trainers or swimmers for years now. Although initially, a whole bunch of athletes were doing the same session at the same pace, it didn’t take long before coaches realized that in order to be individual, each athlete should train at a different Vo2max, or on the water by using GPS tracking your paddling speed. (Garmin watch or NK Speed coach)
  • However, this was the only change. No one ever questioned seriously if everyone should do the same distance or time at vVo2max. This is mainly because no one ever wondered how long could someone sustain vVo2max, essentially because there was not one single answer as tlimVo2max is as individual as vVo2max.
  • The variable tlimVo2max is positively correlated to the anaerobic threshold or lactate threshold of a trainer, that is the higher the LT, the higher tlimVo2max. Therefore, improving your tlimVo2max will also improve your LT. This is (slightly simplified) why, the sort of sessions we use at JUST PADDLING can simultaneously improve your vVo2max, tlimVo2max, LT and paddling economy!
  • By using this testing format and we can then work out your correct Training Speeds for each Training Zone and by using your GPS training device you can accurately track every Interval training session with confidence that your not wasting your training time on the water.


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