Running 5k Field Test

Running 5k Field Test Protocol

5K Field Test or Race

This is a 5K  field test or race used to determine training paces based off of your recent best known 5k race times.

5K Field test or Race Warmup

(Why you should warmup before testing, training and racing, Sample warmups depending on your fitness level)

5-10 minutes brisk walking with muscle activation drills.  5-10 minutes easy jogging, with 2 20 second strides thrown in, 2-3 minute recovery between strides. Minimum 3 minute recovery before beginning test.

  • Begin 5K race effort at maximum sustainable effort.
  • If needed start slightly below what you think you can sustain, but continue increasing effort without going harder than you can sustain for the duration of the test. You should finish knowing you gave it everything you had.
  • 15 minutes easy cool down with stretching

You should record your 5k time and average heart rate in your training log.

Your training paces can be determined by using the Jack Daniel’s VDOT tables.  Run Bayou has an automatic pace calculator. Note that if your 5K time is longer than 30 minutes you will need to consult your coach for your paces as the calculator only works up to 30:00 for a 5k run time. Write down your current training paces and VDOT number in your training log as well.

Regular racing or testing of a known distance can help you determine when to make changes in training paces as well as measure progress in your training. 

Other Running Tests that Your Coach May Prescribe

Running Threshold Field Test 20 minute Protocol


Please send comments/corrections to coach AT steelcityendurance DOT com


References: Jack Daniels, PhD;  Bobby McGee, Run Workouts for Multisport Athletes; Run Less, Run Faster,

Maximum Heart Rate Formulas Don’t be fooled.

The other day a friend pulled me aside to ask about heart rate training. He is in his mid 30’s and is mostly an ultra distance runner. “When I was running yesterday, I got my heart rate up to 201, is that possible? Should I use that number to figure out what heart rate zone I should be running in?”

He was confused because of the familiar maximum heart rate formula, “220-age=max HR.” This formula is ubiquitous in the fitness world and lay press, and is used to calculate the HR zones for training at different intensities. This training method is unreliable for a variety of reasons.



Lactate Threshold Field Test 30 Minute Protocol

Lactate Threshold Field Test Protocol

30 Minute Protocol

This is a thirty-minute field test protocol used to determine your “threshold power” or “threshold heart rate”.  Knowing your threshold heart rate will help you both plan workouts as well as to measure progress in your training.

Field Test Warmup

(Why you should warmup before testing, training and racing, Sample warmups depending on your fitness level)

10 Minutes easy riding in middle chainring, 10 minutes…just easy spinning, get your legs loose, get your mind loose.
30-second spin up to 100 rpms, recover for 2-3 minutes, repeat once…effort should be light to moderate, easy gears.

30-second effort,  recover 2-3 minutes, repeat once. 5 minutes easy spinning after that last hard effort and finish within about 5 minutes of the race start.

  • The 30 minute TT begins.
  • At 10 minutes into the test, hit the ‘Lap’ button on your heart rate monitor, to get the average heart rate over the final 20 minutes of the test.
  • The average for the final 20 minutes is your Lactate Threshold or LT.
  • You should finish knowing you gave it everything you had.
  • 15 minutes easy cooldown.

Now you can do some simple math to determine HR training zones, either relative to your LTHR, or as a percentage. These zones are not hard and fast. Some authors recommend taking an additional 3-5% off of these zones for a 30minute time trial. You can do a 60 minute time trial taking your average HR for the last 30 minutes to get a more accurate lactate threshold heart rate

Calculating your Heart Rate Zones
Zone % LTHR Easy Math
Zone 1 (Recovery Zone) 65-85% < LTHR – 35 beats
Zone 2 (Extensive Endurance) 85-90% 25 – 35 beats below LTHR
Zone 3 (Intensive Endurance) 90-95% 15 beats below LTHR up to LTHR
Zone 4 -5a (Lactate Threshold 95-102% Tested LTHR from time trial
Zone 5b/5c (Power Training) 102-110% 5-10 beats above LTHR

Using the Training Zones

Now that you know your training zones, what do you do with them?Workout, of course!Any training that should be working on your aerobic base needs to be done in zones 1-2, no higher.

Training in zones 3-5 begins to recruit anaerobic or fast-twitch fibers which detracts from the building and training of your oxidative pathways

Training in zones 4 and above is needed in order to create speed, improve lactate clearance and increase the amount of time near your lactate threshold at which you can

References:  Triathlete’s Training Bible, Joe Friel; D3 Multisport, Mike Ricci