One of the evaluation tools that has been part of the Lydiard system since the beginning has been the time trail. Arthur came to realize that the words “time trial” had runners thinking of an all out effort (racing with no reward) and spent a lot of lectures clarifying how they should be run and what should be accomplished by them.
In his book Running to the Top (Meyer & Meyer Verlag) he recommended that the best way to test for personal fitness levels was to run a measured distance an a regular basis, then to take after-run pulse checks so you could chart the improvement of your recovery rate.
I break the eval runs into two different types; one test for steady state fitness the other test for the runners reaction to racing type stresses. The focus of this post will be on the steady state fitness test.
Arthur recommended a run of 5 kilometers or a run of 15 minutes at the steady state then testing heart rate recovery times. In collecting data on runners over the years I have found that a run of about 25 minutes works very well. The first 10 minutes gives the systems time to stabilize and the next 15 minutes gives a good reading into the fitness of the runner. The lactate processing system seems to kick in at a high level after 10 minutes then it stabilize. So how fast should this eval run be? Arthur gave a number of examples of of how fast he thought the steady state was and it fits in with work that Farrell did, about .25 miles per hour slower than marathon pace (8 to 15 seconds slower than marathon pace). To make it easy just subtract 30 beats from your max heart rate (this is probably slower but for the test it works well).
Now we have a speed and a duration for the eval, the next post will explain how to evaluate it.