Do You Know Your Lactate Threshold?

The aim of the my first article on Lactate Threshold Training was designed to explain what it actually is. In this second look I am aiming to describe how to determine Lactate Threshold (LT) and in the final piece I will look at how to improve it.

Lactate Threshold obtained by Measurement

Lactate Threshold GraphThe best way to determine your LT is to be tested in an accredited sports science laboratory. There are many commercial organisations that provide this service and your local university that has a sports science programme may have those facilities also – I know mine does.

When you conduct a lactate threshold test you will either cycle an exercise bike  or run on a treadmill for several minutes with the speed of the treadmill or the loading on the cycling increasing. A pin prick blood sample will be taken from a finger and the lactate concentration measured.

The diagram shown on the right shows a typical blood lactate concentration versus running speed plot. From these type of graphs the exercise physiologist can ascertain the pace at lactate threshold. A heart rate monitor is typically worn and this gives a further variable for consideration.

Lactate Threshold obtained by Estimation

You can estimate your lactate threshold. In my first article on Lactate Threshold Training I suggested that lactate threshold would determine how quickly you finished a distance race. A good estimation of lactate threshold pace therefore would be the average pace that aligns with your half marathon PB time. research tells us that  LT Pace is around 85 – 92% of maximum heart rate therefore from this it is a relatively simple calculation to understand your the heart rate that occurs with that pace if you did not wear a heart rate monitor.

So you now have the tools and understanding to either have your LT estimated or measured and an understanding of the pace and heart rate at which this occurs.

In the third and final article of this series, I consider the basic types of LT running workout, and how runners can improve their lactate threshold and in doing so set new Personal Best times.

About The Author 

Neil is one of the most knowledgeable endurance coaches you'll ever be likely to meet, both in terms of qualifications and valuable experience. He's well into his second decade in the sport of triathlon and third decade as a competitive runner.

In recent years Neil has worked with Runners, from those looking to complete their first 5k through to Elites racing the Olympic Marathon, and Triathletes, from those looking to finish their first ever sprint event, through Age Group medallists at World Championships, Ironman Age Group winners to the Elite Squad at University of Bath.

As an accomplished Ironman triathlete, Neil races for Royal Navy Triathlon and has represented Great Britain at Age Group Level across various distances.

2013 has seen him run a sub 3hr at the Rotterdam Marathon, then complete his second 56 mile Comrades Ultra Marathon in South Africa in June; he is now making his return to racing Ironman Triathlon.

Neil is available for Triathlon & Running Coaching.



  • […] commonly used term and explain what it actually means.  The second article aimed to describe the various ways in which Lactate Threshold (LT) can be determined. In this third and final piece, I consider the three basic types of LT workout, their objective, […]


    Guys, see attached article. You are confusing LT with MLSS
    LT is first material uptick, and can be held for longer that you suggest.
    MLSS is what you are referring too in your article.

    Personally, I think lactate is not a good method by which to measure intensity.
    Afterall, lactate is a useful substance & not the bad boy everyone makes it out to be!
    It’s much easier for people to use a combination of pace (% of race pace) & HR as a check of intensity & to train by.Most people have gps watches these days. Do a race, set your zones.

    Love the site & articles keep up the good work.

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