USING LACTATES IN THE REAL WORLD
Rushall Thoughts, 1993.
There is nothing wrong with lactates and heart rates in very controlled laboratory settings. The problem with HR/lactate measures is how they are used by coaches. When measurement error is high because of the lack of control in how swims are done and the organic factors that precede the test swims are not controlled, errors are large. If a coach takes a measure that seems worse and makes a coaching decision purely assuming the "worseness" is caused by training then a swimmer will be programmed incorrectly. These measures are influenced by too many "field" variables when used in the field and thus, their reliability is reduced. Since error is increased, they then become less sensitive to true training effects particularly when training effects are small as they are when higher levels of the trained state are attained.
One of the responders to the Rushall and King articles (1994) pointed out that when coaches take times they are particularly unreliable and therefore should not have been used for the analysis that was done. That in itself is testimony that such tests should not be conducted by coaches.
A training program's content should not be based on a single dubious measure of physiology.
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