Mark Allen talks about Building an Aerobic Base

I’m sure it’s no coincidence that while I’m currently reading Matt Fitzgerald’s “Iron War”, I stumble upon this insightful video from Ironman legend Mark Allen…

In this excerpt from The Art and Science of Triathlon lecture series, Mark discusses the importance of, and rationale behind building an aerobic base first, then adding speed training.

This won’t come as news to many athletes, but I enjoyed his explanation.

The point that really hit home was his bullet stating:

  • Requires patience that most athletes do not have

How true that is…!

N.B. It’s worth noting that when it comes to heart rate training, the kind of formulaic approach suggested in this presentation comes a distant second to an athlete getting some physiological testing done to determine their individual HR zones.

Last updated on March 2nd, 2021.


  1. James. I would like to get some physiological testing, as you suggest, so that I can have accurate hr training zones. Do you know of anywhere in the Norwich area that does this?

    1. If you don’t mind a trip to London, go to the Centre for Human Performance at 76 Harley St for a test with Prof Greg Whyte. You can’t get better advice than from him. Beware of the equipment that many testers use, some of it is cheap and utterly useless. Twitter me @mdotLuke if you like.

    2. I personally use The Human Performance Unit at the University of Essex in Colchester. Chris and Kelly are great.

      In relation to HR training, I do a 12 week programme each year (following physiological testing at HPU). My best results over a 12 week period was a jump in run speed (for mid Z2 HR) from 9.7 to 14.5KPH and 140 – 210 watts for cycling. I could not believe the results. 2 important factors I have come to understand though; 1) definitely need to be patience. 2) need a recovery week every 4th week for the real adaption to take place.

      More than willing to give some further insights.

  2. Thanks for putting this up James, it came at the right time for today’s LR. Was very mindful of keeping my HR in the recommended range (132-137) and while my pace was slower, I felt much stronger and at no time bonked unlike my last few LRs.

  3. If you want to find your max HR without bothering with a treadmill test, just go race a hard 5K and run the last 400-800 just as hard as you can go. That will give you a very reliable max number to work with. Be advised that if you change equipment, the new combination of sensor and monitor may measure a little differently so you’d have to repeat the test. Then measure your resting heart rate by putting on your equipment when you wake up in the morning and hit the snooze alarm for about a 10 minute measurement. The ranges you’ll calculate will then be ((MHR-RHR) x target % ) + RHR. The 5 to 10% cutoffs that are in the books are somewhat arbitrary. For example, the books say 85% is the proper aerobic threshold heart rate level. I found for me that more like 87-88% feels right, so experiment a little to see what’s best for you.

  4. I bought into the theory of HR training years ago but have been unable to ever find out my true HR levels at which to train, are there any testers in Northern Ireland or Republic of Ireland that you know about?