Have a Heart - Page 4
A common question is whether you can move between zones during your run. The answer depends on your goals. If you're looking to raise your overall LT, then you can employ interval training during which your heart rate will fluctuate significantly. However, if your goal is to stay in a lower zone and build an aerobic base, you want to be a lot more cognizant of staying in your zone. If you charge up a steep trail, you're going to build up your blood lactate levels and will have a very difficult time getting rid of it quickly enough to maintain the workout you intended.
Putting it all together
If you're serious about making performance gains as efficiently as possible, determining your lactate threshold and using the guidelines above is essential. Your buddies may cite the fact that many great athletes don't use this method and perform incredibly using only their own senses as feedback. Sure, some other gifted athletes have genetics that allow them to train much more haphazardly and still outpace the competition, but perhaps they could have gotten to the same place in far less time using more precise heart-rate-training techniques.
A great resource for a detailed explanation of the topic is the Triathlete's Training Bible, by Joe Friel. Also view resources on the subject at www.MadisonTrainer.com, including the recent university research discounting the antiquated maximum-hear-rate equation, as well as a training-zone calculator
Remember that your LT will change as you become more conditioned so you will need to repeat the test periodically to update your training zones. Don't fear: by following the above recommendations you'll be pleased at how quickly you start to burn through the trails and will start to look forward to the LT tests.