Aerobic Run Test Guidance

The Aerobic Run Test is a great way to watch your run fitness improving, without having to push yourself really hard in a traditional race, with all the associated fatigue and soreness that run races may bring. The Aerobic Run Test is especially good for long distance triathletes who want a measure of how one element of their run fitness is improving.

The test is a simple three mile continuous run, done on a flat course or ideally a running track, while wearing a heart rate monitor. The test will be done regularly, ideally every 4 weeks.

To Calculate your Target Aerobic Heart Rate

To find your maximum aerobic training heart rate, there are two important steps.

  1. Subtract your age from 180.

  2. Modify this number by selecting among the following categories the one that best matches your fitness profile:

a)  If you have been training consistently (at least four times weekly) for up to two years keep the number (180–age) the same.

b)  If you have been training for more than two years, and have made progress in competition without injury, add 5.

c) The 180 Formula may need to be adapted for people over the age of 50. For some of these athletes, up to 10 more beats may have to be added for those in category (b) in the 180 Formula. This does not mean 10 should automatically be added, but that an honest self-assessment is important. This is most often demonstrated when older athletes cannot maintain a run at their Target Aerobic Heart rate, and have to slow to a walk.

For example, if you are 35 years old and fit into category (b), you get the following: 180–35=145. Then 150+5=155 beats per minute (bpm).

Initially, training at this relatively low rate may be very difficult. “I just can’t go that slowly!” is a common comment. For athletes who find this, it’s worth reflecting that your pace at this heart rate will increase rapidly - by the end of the first month, you will be running significantly faster.

It is also worth noting that for most athletes, each mile of the test gets slower than the one before it as you run at a constant heart rate. This is totally normal.

The Test

You will need your HR monitor on for this test. Use a flat course, either on a track, or 3 x 1 mile loops.
You will be running this test at a constant heart rate.

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This will feel STEADY, not HARD.
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Warm up - Loosen up, then 10 mins easy running, gradually increase your pace to your target heart rate.
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Main Set:
TEST: A constant 3 mile run, holding constant heart rate.
Take a lap/split on your watch after each mile. This will allow us to see the average pace for each mile.
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Cool Down:
5 - 10 mins jog/walk, stretch as appropriate.
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This test, done regularly, will demonstrate how your run fitness is improving, as your pace will improve in subsequent each run test.