Training intensity distribution – how to make it?

Training intensity distribution (TID) can seem confusing, as there is a couple of different styles. People often speak about the 80:20 division, where 80% of training will be performed easy level and 20% of training are speed training. It’s a good start, but at the same time, it does not give many details. We consider three different TID styles in this post.

Blood lactate and %HRmax

Before being able to make any training intensity distribution, we need to know a person’s blood lactate response to exercise and %HRmax. This might be tricky, as everyone has not an opportunity to test them, or test result might be too old. But these help a lot define exercise intensity.

There are three zones; Zone 1 ≤75% HRmax, Zone 2 80-90% HRmax and Zone 3 90-95% HRmax. Each of these is used to different amount during the training week. Next, we will look at which is the best distribution.

The best training intensity distribution style

There are three common styles to distribute the training; threshold training, pyramidal training, polarised training. The picture below shows the distribution for each style.

Training intensity distribution; percentages show the weekly amount of training for the given zone

So, which is the best style to use. Current scientific evidence suggests that polarised and pyramidal styles are more effective for endurance runners, regardless of fitness level. They are both often used during the training season. Many professional endurance athletes start their season using polarized training and once the racing season coming closer they switch pyramidal distribution.

In practice, once the weekly and monthly training volume is known and the distribution style is chosen, calculate how you need to spend in each zones. All the interval and speed training will be performed in zone 2-3 and easy runs take place in zone 1. Take account, longer threshold training session which, increase the % quite fast, decreasing the amount of other speed training session on that week.

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