Interpretation of My Second Time Trial

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    Just finished my first month of Level 0 5k HR Plan and I did my first time trial test in December 2020 before I started the plan. Today, I just did my second time trial test. Both tests were done in the same flat route and “similar” weather condition. I used the 20 minutes time trial test to capture both the heart rate and pace data.

    1st Time Trial (after multiplying with 0.95)
    LTHR: 168bpm
    LTP: 9:29min/km

    2nd Time Trial (after multiplying with 0.95)
    LTHR: 166bpm
    LTP: 9:05min/km

    I am very happy to see that my pace had improved, but what about my heart rate? It had dropped by 3bpm. Does that mean I am fitter now? Lower HR but higher speed? Is my reading a good sign?

    This also leads to another question. Interpreting the Peak Performance medals chart. I get a star for reaching very high HR in a given time. My question is shouldn’t i get a star for lowest HR in a given time? I thought lower HR should be better for runners?

    Sorry about the long post.

    Thanks in advance!

    David Warden


    I’m really glad you posted this for us to discuss.

    First, congratulations on your new threshold pace, I expect another 15 second drop in the next test.

    LTHR remains remarkably unchanged regardless of fitness. Think of it as engine temperature. At 100kph the engine temperature won’t be much different than at 130kph (for similar weather conditions). Since your HR is just an indicator of how the body is responding, the relative level of stress at threshold pace remains the same even if the output (pace or power) changes.

    Or, think of if this way. An olympic runner has a threshold pace of 3:00 per k. That’s 3x faster than your pace, but will their LTHR be 3x higher? No, their LTHR is going to be close to yours (and mine) between 155 and 180 (as is almost everyone’s).

    Yes, your reading is a great sign. An increased outcome for a give (or even lower) HR is an unequivocal sign of an increase in fitness.

    You won’t see a badge for lower HR. TP, like Strava or Zwift, uses game theory to motivate athletes to stay engaged. Higher is always better, harder is always better, which is why so many athletes stay mired in the moderate intensity rut.


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