On Friday I tried a new fitness test that I will add to my schedule and test every 4 weeks. It was a bugger, but I can surely see how effective it will be in measuring improvement in fitness level. So here is what they had me do...
Start on a treadmill jogging @ 10:00 min miles... then every lap (quarter mile) click the speed button up one notch (NOTE: You must use the same treadmill for each test as each treadmill will have variable speed increments for each click). Keep upping the speed by one click every lap (quarter mile) until your HR hits 5c. Then click the speed down one click each lap (quarter mile) until you get back to 10:00 min miles.
When doing this note at what point your HR passes through your Recovery Ceiling and Threshold Floor. Also note the top speed you made it too before passing out of 5c. And note at what point your HR passes back through the Recovery Ceiling on the way back down. Over time you should see:
A faster speed before you pass through the Recovery Ceiling and Threshold Floor
An increase of time between the Recovery Ceiling and Threshold Floor, meaning that you are increasing your aerobic capacity
Your 5c HR should be at a higher speed each time
And finally... you should see your Recovery Ceiling earlier in the downward side of the pyramid.
My experience doing this the first time: It was pretty easy on the way up the pyramid. Starting at 10:00 min miles and with each click only making it a handful of seconds faster, your body doesnt really notice the slight increase in speed. I found that my HR only increased every couple of clicks up in speed as the steps weren't dramatic enough to make it jump on each click. I suprised myself by not hitting 5c until I was running 6:40's (last year my fastest 5k was 7:03's) so a dramatic improvement in my speed this year so far. What was suprising was the downward side of the pyramid. Because you are only coming down a handful of seconds slower with each click... I really labored for the first few miles on the way down because you just don't slow down fast enough. It took forever to get my HR back into the recovery area as you end up running several miles at speed. In the end though... I walked away from the treadmill with 15 miles under my belt... a smile on my face because I ended up running several miles in the high 6's... and a new respect for what seemed like an easy test when they told me about it.
Saturday I decided I better get back to my base training and not blow up this base phase completely and rode real easy on the trainer in the basement for 2 1/2 hours. It was a good week... and the snow held off until Friday night / Saturday morning. Only 8 inches and it was dry and fluffy so easy to shovel. It is supposed to get above freezing the next couple of days so hopefully we will see some melting and be able to start hoping for spring.