Monday, 1 February 2016
'Threshold' is a word you can't avoid in endurance sport. But what does it mean? And how do newer views of exercise physiology improve our understanding of where our barriers lie?
Most serious endurance athletes will have an idea of where their 'threshold' lies - whether FTP for cyclists, HM pace for runners, CSS for swimmers. The usual understanding is that above 'threshold', exercise is associated with a gradual rise in the evil lactic acid, which eventually causes the athlete to have to stop. Below threshold, lactate stays steady. Some models appear to allow the athlete to go on forever, but others suggest (and the real world demonstrates) that exhaustion still occurs, and the athlete must stop for what is presumably an entirely different reason.
I had this planned as one post, then two, then more - I'm not sure now, but I think breaking it up into bits is going to help avoid head-spinning.
I'll start with a quick review of energy systems: