Monthly Archives: September 2007

Carmichael Field Test Protocol

The Carmichael Field Test can be used to get a decent estimate of your lactate threshold, and then used to set your training ranges. The course consists of two 3 mile time trials with a recovery period between them.

WARNING: There’s a lot of pain to be had here, ‘specially if you do it right. But I found the zones I got from the test to be very useful, and well correlated with my “seat of the pants” estimate of LTH

The steps are as follows:

  1. Find a 3 mile course. Ideally, it will have good pavement, no hills, and no turns or stops. Good luck on that part – my guess is that you will have a bit of trouble doing that. So, if you can avoid big hills and any stops, that will work well. My course is an out and back.
  2. Ideally, you have a HR monitor that can give you an average for a session. If not, you can kinda/sorta approximate with a direct reading one.
  3. Make sure you are well rested.
  4. Don’t eat anything within 2 hours of the test, but have 16 oz of a good sports drink about 45 minutes before the test.
  5. Warm up thoroughly. You need something more than 10-20 minutes – whatever it takes you to get nicely warmed up. For me, that’s about 30 minutes. You also need 2-3 very high intensity efforts of a minute or so to get yourself ready. If you don’t do this, you will find that it takes you half of the first effort to get warmed up.
  6. Begin from a standing start in a reasonable gear.
  7. Don’t start too quickly. You should take about a minute to get up to perhaps 90% effort, and then ramp up slowly after that until you get to max effort
  8. Your cadence should be 90-95RPM, and you should have a steady breathing pace.
  9. Your speed should be one at which you can barely maintain it for the entire time period.
  10. Force the pace

At the end of the 3 miles, collect the time and the average heart rate for the first effort. Recover for 10 minutes at low intensity, and then repeat.

Cool down at the end.

After you’ve done this a few times, you’ll get better at holding a max effort for the whole time.

One you get this, you can set your zones, based on the “average average” of the HR. Include the whole effort, including the part at the beginning.

35 or younger 36 or older
Recovery 50% to 70%
Endurance 91% 86%
Tempo 97% 96%

Okay, so to take myself as an example. My average HR from the field test was 164 BPM. And I’m an old dude, so I use the right column.

My recovery HR is 72-115 BPM.

Endurance sets a limit rather than a range – it’s basically anywhere underneath the limit. So, my limit is 164 * 0.86 = 141. For tempo it’s 164 * 0.96 = 158 BPM. For both of those, you add 4 BPM to get the upper limit of the range (Carmichael say 2-4 BPM, but my experience is that I can hold a 4BPM range fairly easy but it’s a lot harder to keep it within 2BPM). That gives me the following ranges:

Recovery: 72-115 BPM
Endurance: 141-145 BPM
Tempo: 158-162 BPM

I’ll talk about what these are in the future…

Floyd and innocence…

Phatty wrote a post about the recent Floyd Landis verdict, and I thought I’d expand a bit on his theme.

Doping and cycling is a complex subject. I’m not naive enough to think that cyclists don’t dope.

But the question is not whether Floyd doped. The question is whether he can be judged to have doped under the applicable rules. In other words, the question is not one of right or wrong. The question is one of legality.

From my perpective, just as the athletes have rules that they are expected to follow, the officials also have rules that they need to follow.

And, in this case, they didn’t do it. I think that unless the officials follow the rules, they don’t have a case.

Getting faster

Post 1 of several

It’s a pretty common question…

“I’ve been riding for a while now, and I’m the slowest in my group. How do I get faster?”

There’s no simple answer to this question, because getting faster isn’t one thing, it’s a whole lot of things.

 In this series, I’ll write about what those things are.



Popliteus is:

  1. The last european book craze
  2. The right-hand-man of Alexander the Great
  3. The cause of pain and anguish for RiderX

Back in June I was on a ride in Issaquah, on a road that features two things:

1) A “bypass the light” right lane (of 3) that can only go straight at a light

2) A bike lane that stops very soon before that point.

So, I was out riding, and got stuck at that light, with a very impatient car behind me (which, I presume, was occupied by an impatient car, and not possessed in a real-life version of Christine). The light change, I stood up, and go ready to do a bit of a sprint, and then realized that I was about 4 gears higher than I wanted to be. So, in a bit of adolescent bravado that I tell myself I am no longer prone to but, let’s be fair, still shows up now and then, I decide to just go for it.

Which, over the span of the next 15 seconds or so, resulted in two things. First, a fairly pathetic acceleration rate, and second, a strange feeling behind my right knee.

Which I didn’t really think much of – I finished the ride and went home.

A week or so later, the strange feeling had resolved itself, and I was out on a group ride, stood up to sprint up a short hill, and now the leg was hurting a bunch.

Which led to an up and down journey, where I would alternatively take it easy and heal, and then do something stupid, eventually culminating in RAMROD, where the knee and my lack of training perfectly meshed together for it to hurt a lot.

But, then I knew I had to be more serious about healing whatever was wrong, so I did the ice thing, I did the stretching thing, I did the ibuoprofen thing. I went out and rode some steeps before the Summits of Bothel and felt okay, and then SOB was cold and wet and we skipped it.

The only ride I cared about was the mountain populaire (held on Sept 9th), where I hoped to do better than last year. And by “do better”, I mean climb a little faster and not feel so wiped at the end.

So, last Thursday I decided to ride a little harder to make sure I was up to the Sunday ride, and while the knee felt a little weird, it didn’t hurt. And then, near the end of the ride, I decided to chase another rider as he sprinted up a short hill. Which told me what I need to know.

I skipped the populaire and went on a flat 30 miler around the lake Sunday, during which my knee was pretty achy.

Which led me into see a PT on Monday, where I had lots of tests done, the painful area poked and prodded, and learned a new word. I have a problem with my Poplieus, a short muscle on the back of the knee.

 After a couple of weeks of stretching and healing, we’ll start on PT.



Getting fast


 Better aerobic capacity

better efficiency

faster cadence (less tiring)

LT as a higher percentage of HR

Better buffering of LT.