Track Your Progress!

Curtis Eppley is an IT Business Integration Analyst at NuSkin in Provo, Utah. He lives with his family in Springville, Utah. He bests a 2:35 marathon at age 48. He is my friend and one of the nicest men in the whole world.

“The only way to improve, is to track your progress!

DATA, I love DATA!

Ever since I started running, ten years ago, I have wanted to improve. I believe that the only way to improve is to know where you currently are and figure out how you can get better. I also love seeing the changes in the many aspects of my running and in how it effects my body. I work in IT and materials management and love data.

From the very beginning of when I started running I have tracked as many data points as possible. I have used a Garmin to track all of my running, riding and activities. It is fun to see the changes in pace, endurance, etc. I like being able to refer back to past activities and being able to compare them or set goals for future activities.

One great result of running is the changes to the body. I am always interested in where my body composition stands. I use a scale with body composition every day.

One of the tests that I have always wanted to do is a Lactate Threshold test.

An athlete’s initial lactate test provides an indicator of fitness level and a starting point for training. Depending on the protocol used, the following data can be acquired through a lactate test: maximum sustainable power (cycling) or pace (running), recovery heart rate (how quickly the athlete’s heart is able to return to recovered levels), pace and power at lactate threshold, and a relative index of fitness (i.e., speed or power divided by the athlete’s body weight).

I had the opportunity to do this test with my new strength coach at his secret laboratory. It involved many blood draws and running on the treadmill for about 45 minutes. I started at an easy pace for a few minutes. This first blood draw would give us my baseline. After each blood draw the speed was bumped up to another level. At the sixth step, about the 6:30 – 6:45 pace I reached the first threshold. This was at a heart rate of 135 – 140. Three steps more to reach the next threshold. This was at a 5:40 pace and a heart rate of 155 – 160.


Speed mph Lactate mmol/L VO2 ml/kg FAT (kcal/min) CHO (kcal/min) HR
6.8 1.1 4.0 0.8 105
7.3 1.1 5.0 1.0 127
7.8 1.1 30.6 6.7 1.4 116
8.3 1.1 42.2 5.9 5.6 132
8.8 1.2 44.0 5.0 7.1 137
9.3 1.2 48.3 4.2 9.1 142
9.8 2.4 50.9 3.5 10.6 146
10.3 2.4 52.9 1.6 13.7 152
10.8 4.8 55.9 0.9 15.4 158
11.3 4.8 58.8 0.0 16.6 164
11.8 10.0 59.5 0.0 16.8 167
12.3 16.0 59.6 0.0 16.8 168
These are predictions
2mmol pace: 6:45-6:30/mile and HR=135-140
4mmol pace: 5:40/mile and HR = 155-160
Velocity of VO2 max= 11.8

Includes the V02 max test that I did immediately after the lactate test.


What this is showing is that my regular pace should be about a 6:40. Slower than this is my easy, fat burning pace. Anything faster than the 5:40 pace I get into a deficit that is not sustainable for a long time.

What else did I learn from this exercise? Well on average when I go out for a “regular” run I have been averaging 6:40. So this confirms to me that I have been self-regulating pretty darn well. I feel that I could easily drop 20 miles at this pace. It is only slightly hard. Anything much slower and I feel like I could go all day.

Now for the 5:40 pace where my lactate took another jump. Currently my marathon PR is 2:35:33. This is a 5:56 pace. Once again the test confirms how I feel I can perform and the actual results. This is a pace the I can hold for a ½ marathon but not further or longer time.

Can you improve your lactate threshold? Yes.

Gathering information about your body and lactate threshold doesn’t do you much good unless you incorporate it into your training. Working on improving pace or power at lactate threshold typically occurs after you’ve already laid down a strong foundation of aerobic work. For the summer-time competitor, this usually means performing lactate threshold work in the mid spring. Following several training blocks devoted to targeted interval workouts, you’ll progress to even harder, yet shorter, workouts as you approach your goal event. Consistency is the key to improving performance at lactate threshold. You have to accumulate a lot of work at a steady workload to place the appropriate amount of stress or load on the system. Since you can’t spend a lot of time working above threshold, these training intervals have to be at an intensity just below your threshold.

For both running and cycling, interval workouts focused on improving performance at threshold should progress from 5-minute intervals to intervals of up to 20 minutes in length. Recovery between intervals should stay at about one third to half the length of the interval. Your first goal is to accumulate time with multiple shorter intervals, and then progress to performing fewer, longer intervals. Lactate threshold workouts are hard on the body, and it’s best to put a day of light endurance training or active recovery between days of lactate threshold training.

For me Lactate training has always meant doing a run at a very uncomfortable pace. You must push your body beyond what it thinks it can do. You must push the envelope and sometime tear right through it. Sure you will be uncomfortable. You will hurt the next day also. But, your body is amazing at adaptation. It will say “OH, I have to do what?”. But over the next few days you “normal” will shift. You will adapt and change. Over the next few days you should find yourself running at an increased pace. At times it will be almost imperceptible. This is where data gathering and analysis will prove its worth. You will be able to compare to before and see the change.

So should you go and do this test? I would say that if you can, do it. It will help you confirm if you are self-regulating your pace correctly. Is it absolutely necessary, No. If you have been running for a few years you probably are pretty in tune with your body and what you currently can and can’t do.

For me I now have a starting data point. I plan on retaking the test in early October to see how I have improved.

Keep pushing your boundaries!”

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