21km Mountain Race- Specific Training (Specificity week)

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  • #29323

    Hello to you all!

    So i’ve been building my base the past weeks including ME endurance and strength training workouts. My first race for this season is going to be a 21km mountain race with approx 1500m+ of elevation. I’ve done the course before and i know it quite well(03h:52min) My goal is to go for a much better better personal PR.(<03h:30min)

    So my question is when i get to the specificity week what should my training focus be on ? For example I’ve seen that for longer races it is recommended to do back to back long runs during the week ends for specific training. I was thinking of maybe adding a second high intensity workout. Any thoughts on this?

    Also i observed that on the TFTUA book that during the specificity week at the high intensity part(page 301) It is written that you should cut all zone 3 and do only zone 4 interval sessions. I would really appreciate if this can be further explained. The reason behind this. And does the same apply for the Taper week? Do you also exclude zone 3 workouts there too?

    Couldn’t Zone 3 work be specific for a half marathon mountain race? I was thinking of adding Zone 3 intervals as a second workout , or doing some zone 3 work during the weekends long run

    Thank you

Posted In: Mountain Running

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    Anonymous on #29330

    Thanks for writing in with your questions. Your race falls below the normal distance we cover in Training for the Uphill Athlete so we have to read between the lines a little bit. At 21km and 3.5 hours this race is closer in average intensity to a Skimo Individual race. More intensity is probably advised.

    The ME and strength along with aerobic base work should provide a good base to launch into more event specific work in the specific weeks. You probably will benefit from a second high intensity training session as is recommend on p301 under “High Intensity”. Be cautious that you do not drop the volume of the aerobic base work too much in these specific weeks. It is that aerobic base that plays a critical role in supporting the high intensity and the race itself.

    We along with many others have found that the use of Zone 4 intensity and a more polarized approach to the training where easy means EASY and hard means HARD nets the best results in terms of race performance. Z4 work does everything a Z3 session does physiologically but with an increased cardiovascular and ME load. I have used Z4 interval session with several ultra long distance professions to very good effect. In those weeks, which follow the base period with its ME, we focus on running has hard uphill for anywhere between 6 and 12 minutes and repeating this for the prescribed volume. However, there is nothing grossly working with having 1 Zone 3 and 1 Zone 4 workout in the week. Especially if you have had good results with that.

    Refer to the quote on page 170 from Per Astrand. Essential “No one really knows the best method for improving endurance”, which is why there are so many variations for applying high intensity training. This may be changing: Stephen Seilier has recently conducted studies on nationally ranked and World Cup Norwegian Cross Country skiers comparing the results of different interval protocols 4min (done in upper Z4), 8min(lower Z4) and 16min (in Z3). The intensity was regulated mainly by the length (Go as hard as you can for the selected time). Z3 was all that could be sustained in the 16min work periods. The results of his test showed that the 8min in Z4 was the most effective at improving performance and certain physiologic parameters.

    In the end, when it comes to high intensity use individual experience by athletes and coaches will probably dictate the recommended approach.


    exarchoste on #29361

    Thanks Scott!

    This gave me some good insights. I will try and improvise and come up with some good workouts!

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