Training Effect

Suunto Training Effect ChartLast month I bought myself a new Watch/Heart Rate Monitor… my Christmas present to me. It’s a Suunto T3 and one of the features it tracks is the “Training Effect” of each run or workout. Using that measure, you are not worrying so much about being within specific heart rate limits during a run. The intent is to take account of a range of factors (age, fitness level, times in various zones, etc) and figure how many TE “points” you get from the workout. It also will tell you if you are “overreaching” in any one run… The idea seems to be to gauge or predict fitness improvements more holistically rather than being tied to a single fitness dimension (e.g heart rate).

This system was apparently pioneered by Dr Ken Cooper (US Air Force) in the 60s. Here’s a link to a more complete description of Training Effect in Wikipedia. In his method, the TE points aggregate aross each week where 30 accumulated points would equate to mainatining your fitness level.

It begins to help make sense of the improvement I’m noticing lately. Running with less intensity – and watching HR zones – but more steadily so as not to exceed the optimal TE for me (which ranges from 3 to 4.4). Ideally I would reach the desired TE level just at the end of any given run, but I’m still hitting the mark with about half a mile to go… so in that event I just wind the speed down and jog gently to the end of the run.


~ by John Rankin on Feb 15, 2007.

7 Responses to “Training Effect”

  1. This is interesting… how do you feel? Do you feel like it is working for you? I see from the chart that you hit “over training” at one point. Did you have a sense of that?

  2. The one entry that shows “over-reaching” where it spikes into the TE 5.0 is the log from the Valentines Day 10K run. I had turned off the heart rate limit alarms and was pretty much running at max for the duration, so as a training effect it was bound to be way up there.

  3. I’ve started using a heart rate monitor lately, and I’ve found by keeping my heart rate at where it needs to be, I see larger improvements. Granted sometimes I get annoyed when running at that speed (since it’s sometimes way slower than I think), but it allows me to run almost every night without issue, and still show improvements.

    I like the idea of it calculating it for you, I wish the Garmin 305 did something like this…

  4. Eric,

    I saw the biggest single improvement a couple of years ago when I started using heart rates to limit my running effort. By staying within the right limits, the body learns to work at an aerobic level. Burns more fat builds the endurance base and improves the cardio aspect…

    There’s still got to be speed work and some high intensity running mixed in with the slow mileage of course.

  5. Wow, sounds technical!

  6. Even with my gadgets strapped on (Nike+ and Forerunner 305 w/ heart strap) I still push faster than I should, I used to be more patient, but I keep telling myself I need to do a “speed” night. My bigges thing is I’m carrying around a bunch of extra baggage from my ex-sedentary lifestyle. Which means I should be adhering to this even more to drop the weight.

    Checking through my run data from the forerunner, it looks like most of my runs fall into about 81% of my max heart rate, which ideally it should be at 70%, time to slow it down.

  7. Oh, and if it’s not technical, it’s not any fun :)

    I seem to run because there are lots of cool gadgets you can buy :)

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