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…

So, what do you think ?