I've become fascinated by the recent trend towards threshold training, no doubt due to its successful use by the Ingebrigtsen family and other Norwegians. The basic theory is that the runner spends as much time as possible running at a threshold effort which is arrived at by measuring blood lactate. Gradually your speed at threshold becomes faster and along with that, your race pace. It's important not to run threshold sessions too fast or the accumulated lactic acid in the muscles extends the recovery time. Jakob Ingebrigtsen runs two days of 'double threshold' (a morning and an afternoon session) on Tuesday and Thursday with a 'special session' (often hill sprint repeats) on Saturday mornings with another threshold session that afternoon. His weekly training volume is around 160 kilometres.
Can the average recreational runner learn something from how Jakob trains and possibly adapt those methods for use in our own training? I think we can, and Irish 2:09 marathoner Stephen Scullion has produced a detailed video on what we can learn from the Ingebrigtsens. Jakob's older brother Kristoffer is a recreational runner and his training (you can find him on Strava) gives an insight into how an average runner uses a threshold training system to improve race times. Kristoffer runs around 105 km per week or for 8 hours 10 minutes and he doesn't do 'double threshold' days. His week usually consists of one rest day, three threshold days and three 'steady' running days, one of those being a long run. He uses a Lactate Pro 2 Meter to check blood lactate and make sure he is running at the correct threshold effort. His 'best times' on Strava include 16:22 for 5k, 33:09 for 10k and 73:43 for a half marathon, all very good results for a recreational runner.
If I'm to train similarly to Kristoffer Ingebrigtsen but at 6.5 hours per week, it seems I need a way to judge threshold effort correctly so I can recover sufficiently with one steady running day between threshold days. This will call for some experimentation as the key to good recovery is to run threshold effort 'just right' erring on too slow rather than too fast. I'll use heart rate as a guide. I race 5k at an average heart rate of around 146 (my maximum HR is close to 156). For a start I'll try threshold effort runs/intervals with my heart rate between 130 and 139. General and easy running days will be under a heart rate of 130. My days of the week will go: Monday a variety of threshold running with the Speedygeese group, Tuesday a steady Lake Stakes, Wednesday a threshold BBQ Stakes fartlek, Thursday a steady 65 minutes of running, Friday a threshold Customs Joggers session, Saturday an easy parkrun, Sunday an easy short run or bike ride. Sometimes I'll run the Customs Joggers 5k as a race effort if there are no suitable local races. That's the plan until Masters' track racing starts in October so I'll report back before then with how things are going.
A few of the Speedygeese group at the Coombs parkrun