Also known as “Junk Miles” and “No Man’s Land”, the term “Black Hole” training was first coined by Stephen Seiler, an American exercise scientist teaching at the University of Agder Kristiansand, Norway. The concept was later discussed in depth in the book Be A Better Runner by Sally Edwards and Dr. Carl Foster. In this book, Black Hole training is defined as…
“too slow to cause enough stress to make your body want to strengthen itself, and too fast to allow you to go long enough to improve your endurance”.
Unfortunately, this is where most athletes tend to train when they are not following a structured workout plan because it falls right in the “comfort zone”.
It’s easy to slip into this rut. A moderately hard workout, hard enough to feel like you're accomplishing something, but not hard enough (or easy enough) to actually gain any ground either aerobically or anaerobically.
If you are like most people with the simple goal of just going for a run, then this isn’t going to affect you. But, you are reading a Level 3 Training Program for a reason… you’re a competitor!!
That being said, you are probably wondering…
“Why the hell didn’t you guys bring this up in Level 1 or 2?!??”
Well, the reason for that is simple. People who are at a lower level of fitness aren’t as likely to get sucked into the Black Hole as higher level athletes. Not that they are immune to it, but when your fitness level is lower you will reap the benefits of working out regardless of being in the Black Hole or not.
It’s when you reach an elite level that you begin to find yourself plateauing and it is more challenging to make progress. This is when it is crucial to modify your zone training to keep the forward momentum going and take your training to a whole new level.
This Black Hole Zone is actually a very narrow range...
- Between 100% - 105% of your LTHR
- Or Around 7 to 8 on the RPE scale
- Or just when it becomes difficult to speak if you use the Talk Test.
Depending on your fitness level, this heart rate range is usually less than 10 bpm.
We want to highlight this zone so that you know the importance of avoiding it and what if feels like when you're in it.