Apr 10

Testing Time

With another year of training underway, I decided to create some baselines to work with. This involved figuring out my specific zones for each discipline. I have sort of done this in the past, but never really knew what I was doing or really used the results beyond the test. However, now that I have a power meter, I figure that I better actually make the most of it.

There are numerous different ways to calculate your power & heart rate zones and I decided on using Joe Friel’s method which you can read about here in detail if you want.


I did the bike test first. This involved 30 minutes of pure pain on the trainer last week – 20 minute warm up, 30 minute time trial, and then a 10 minute cool down. Using the Friel method, your FTP is your average power over the 30 minute time trial. A lot of methods use a 20 minute time trial effort and then taking 95% of your average power as your FTP. In the end, both test appear to have given similar results.

You can see where the pain occurred.

I definitely started out too hard and then began to fade off a bit towards the end. Also, I couldn’t seem to find a single gear to hold. In one I would struggle to keep 90RPM and the other I was spinning out at 105RPM. So, I started to switch back and forth between gears each minute as you can see by the peaks and valleys.

In the end, I finished with an FTP of 275W and a power to weight ratio of 3.7 which puts me in the range of a “good” Cat 3 rider. I’ll take it!

Broken down, my new power zones are as follows:

Zone 1: 151 or less
Zone 2: 151 – 203
Zone 3: 204 – 244
Zone 4: 145 – 289
Zone 5: 290 – 330
Zone 6: 330 +

I have an outdoor time trial this weekend and it will be interesting to see how my numbers compare in an outdoor, race setting.

There was a minor fail I the test though. I forgot to wear my HRM. Doh! With the power data, I shouldn’t have to worry about HR zones too much on the bike, but it would have still been good to have.


As for the running test, I did that tonight on the treadmill. The Friel method also uses a 30 minute test for the run. However, with the run test, the first 10 minutes of the test are thrown out and only the final 20 minutes are used.

I started off with a 15 minute warmup at 8min/mile pace before ramping it up to a 7min/mile pace. Then, for next 30 minutes, I bumped up the pace gradually every 5 minutes until finishing at a 6min/mile pace.


In the end, I finished with an average heart rate of 157bpm for the final 20 minutes.

Using Friel’s calculations, my new heart rate zones are as follows:

Zone 1: 0 – 133
Zone 2: 133 -  140
Zone 3: 141 – 147
Zone 4: 148 – 155
Zone 5a: 157 – 160
Zone 5b: 161 – 166
Zone 5c: 167 +


I hadn’t planned on doing a swim test, but I actually realized that I did one without knowing it. The Friel method recommends doing a 1,000yd time trial and dividing your time by 10 to calculate your T-time. As luck would have it, I just recently did an indoor triathlon with a 15 minute all out swim. I was timing my own laps using my stopwatch and hit the 1000 mark in 14:15. That puts me at a T-Pace of 1:26/100 yards.

So, testing is complete. Time to start continue to build!

Do you do FTP or HR testing? If so, what method do you use? How often do you repeat the tests?

Permanent link to this article: http://www.ironmanbythirty.com/2013/04/10/testing-time


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  1. Ellen

    When I first skimmed through this I saw your “Zones” for biking and thought those were HR zones…and I nearly vomited.

    I’m glad I misread.

    Good on you for doing the test!
    Ellen recently posted..Ready For Love

  2. Jason @ Cook Train Eat Race

    Did you fall off the bike toward the end of that 20 minute warm-up?

    Seriously though those are some solid numbers. The HR on the run seems so low for the zones but that happens when you are in shape.

    So when does the base phase start?

  3. Scott

    I am training with HR this year, I used Friel’s HR test, although mine was different, it was still a 30 minute time trial, but at the 10 minute mark, I was suppose to hit the lap button and take the average HR for the last 20 mins as my LTHR.

    I test once a month, during my recovery week, I am using Friels “Your Best Triathlon” training plan.

    It has worked, pretty much all of my base has been in Z2, I have been a stickler on this, in Base 3, the shorter mid week sessions, he finally allowed me to go over z2. But I have noticed, even though my legs are burning and heavy at the end of my long sessions, my HR is fine.
    Scott recently posted..Opening Up, A Raw Glimpse into My Mindset

  4. Chris

    Great job on the tests. I don’t have a power meter, so I can’t comment on those numbers, but I do train via HR as well.

    I use the Karvonen Formula. I’m sure it’s not as accurate as doing full testing, but I think it’s in the ball park. I did do a test for my max HR and took my resting HR, so the numbers shouldn’t be terribly inaccurate.

    Zone1 – 120-133
    Zone2 – 133-147
    Zone3 – 147-160
    Zone4 – 160-174
    Zone5 – 174 -187

    I’m very impressed by your 1000m TT time..nice! I’m just under 2 minutes slower. 🙂

  5. Brittany

    Thanks for posting this – this motivates me to do some testing of my own! The numbers you have are impressive.
    Brittany recently posted..Polenta Baked Eggs Over Kale + a Giveaway

  6. Derek

    nice work on the swimming and overall your training in general looks pretty awesome right now based on your zones. Don’t worry…that will change in June lol
    actually you will prob get more time to train in year one
    baby next to the trainer seems a pretty good setup

  7. joel

    Really cool. Great job on the tests. Will you be doing repeat tests throughout the season?

  8. Matt Smith

    You are a freaking scientist! 🙂 I think it’s great that you figure all this out and that is actually makes you a better athlete. You’re a stud! Cat 3 rider? Beast!
    Matt Smith recently posted..Improvements (Another Pic Dump)

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