TeamCBC Cycling Tip – “Find your Spot”: Aerobic vs. Anaerobic

When going up a big hill, or in a group ride that is going a bit too fast, you need to find the pace where your heart rate is at or below your Lactate Threshold.

So what the heck is Lactate Threshold? Does it have anything to do with milk?

Well the technical explanation is as follows.

(Note: You can skip to the simple explanation if you’re just not that interested.)

When you are exercising in the aerobic (with oxygen) zone, your muscles have enough oxygen to produce the energy needed to perform.  When you are the the anaerobic (without oxygen) zone, your muscles need more oxygen than you’re giving them.  Lactate Threshold is when you cross over from aerobic to anaerobic exercise.  Your threshold is around 80% of your maximum heart rate.  Your maximum heart rate is roughly 220 minus your age.

Here’s the simple explanation:
If you’re breathing so hard that you can’t get out a full sentence, you’re anaerobic.

What does that mean to me?
You can go anaerobic, but you just can’t stay there too long because eventually you will bonk.  If you stay at or below your threshold, you can keep a nice steady pace for a long time.

How do I stay aerobic?
If you’re going up a long hill, you need to “Find your Spot” (or your lactate threshold).  Slow down a little to the point where you’re breathing hard, but not too hard.  Take advantage of a flat section and try to get you’re heart rate down.  If you’re on a group ride, get off the front and get to the back until you’ve recovered.  Actually you really need to get off the front before that point because you risk getting dropped☹️.

Quote of the week:  “It’s only a hill, get over it.”

Rick Bunnell
President, Team CBC