A Different Athlete Than I Was 11 Months Ago – Before & After Test Comparison +

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  • #18896
    mountain_stoke
    Participant

    Improvement Summary:
    1. Ascent Rate at top of Zone 2 increased from 2760 vertical ft per hr (with no ankle weights) to 3587 vertical ft per hr (ankle weights, poles), 30% improvement
    2. Ascent Rate at top of Zone 3 increased from 3204 vertical ft per hr (with no ankle weights) to 3971 vertical ft per hr (ankle weights, poles), 24% improvement
    3. MEP (metabolic efficiency point – 50/50 CHO-FAT crossover) moved from 128 bpm to 156 bpm
    4. FATmax or maximum fat burning almost doubled: it went from 0.52g/min to 0.93g/min
    5. Baseline lactate dropped from 1.6 mmol to 0.7 mmol!
    6. Top of Z2 moved from 152 bpm to 156 bpm, 759 kcal/hr to 1075 kcal/hr
    7. AeT moved from 170 bpm to 175 bpm, 940 kcal/hr to 1247 kcal/hr
    8. AnT stayed put at around 183 bpm
    9. 4mmol lactate point moved from 184 bpm to 191 bpm
    10. I gained 6 lbs of muscle in my legs, and lost 2% body fat

    Test 1 was performed at CU Boulder Lab on 4/12/18. Treadmill was set to 19% grade. Speed was increased throughout test for hiking, arms free at sides.

    Test 2 was performed at CU Boulder Lab on 3/21/19. Treadmill was set to 25% grade. 3 lb ankle weights were used on each leg to simulate the weight of skimo race boot/ski setup. Speed was increased throught test for hiking. Poles were used to simulate biomechanics/bioenergetics of skinning. Objective of this new test was to determine fueling requirements at event-specific pace.

    I do realize that vertical speed efficiency is improved by raising angle of the treadmill. I tried to mitigate the effect of this by wearing ankle weights. I am so much stronger now that I knew if I did the test at the same slope as before, I would have to run and then the test would not serve its event specific purpose.

    Between tests, I trained for six months until an injury in August, after which I was sedentary for six weeks. I began training again in October and have built volume consistently, gradually, and with modulation since that time. Current training volume is 20 hours per week of pure uphill and 25 hours per week of total aerobic hours. 50% of training is on skis, 25% is on trail, 25% is in gym (split between stepmill and treadmill). 10% of training is ME with 55lb pack as steep as possible. Zone time breakdown is 72% of training is at top of Zone 2, 19% of training is in Zone 1, 6% of training is at top of Zone 3, and 3% of training is at top of Zone 4. I am still 1 month out from peak and taper.

    Some of the things I have learned this year:
    1. Once past 15 hrs of uphill per week, fasted training takes too much of a toll on recovery for me. The difference between intraworkout fueling and hydration and not during the bigger days can mean completing the target week volume vs not completing target week volume
    2. Once past 15 hrs of uphill per week, not eating immediate recovery meals consisting of carbs and protein takes too much of a toll on recovery for me. The difference between inter-workout fueling and not during the bigger days can mean completing the target week volume vs not completing target week volume.
    3. Once past 15 hrs of uphill per week, low carb diet starts hurting my training. My performance, recovery, energy, and mood are much better when I have lots of carbohydrate support. All the carbs make me feel bloaty and not very lean, but the performance difference is unquestionable for me.
    4. My biggest gains in aerobic performance arrive during my weeks of lowest psychological stress. Sometimes I waited 7 weeks without seeing any signs of improvement; then I figured out a way to destress and relax more, and poof – MASSIVE improvements that didn’t go away. This happened 3 times this year. Trust the process and be patient.
    5. Things will not go according to plan. Accepting this as fact and learning to roll with the punches, made a big difference in mind-stress reduction and therefore ultimately performance gains. My training plan spreadsheet is an outline now, not a list of ORDERS.
    6. As long as there is progressive overload in the training volume and/or intensities, the mesostructure does not have to be perfect to achieve gains. Hold, Build, Build, Recover may be the goal, but Build-Build-Recover-BIG BUILD-Recover or Big Build-Recover-Bigger Build-Recover etc etc can work OKAY. Therefore, if the body says rest, listen to it and figure out a new training cycle structure strategy to get through and keep improving.
    7. My heartrate gets suppressed after big weeks of training and that means BACK OFF! 50,000 foot vertical week followed by 55,000 foot vertical week… that one caused heart rate suppression badly. Pushing up past 135 bpm felt like Zone 4! Crazy stuff.
    8. Don’t enter your first races ever during said big weeks and actually expect to do well. Embrace them as fun training days if anything.
    9. Diet must support training. If I don’t have enough calories, motivation to train starts dropping after awhile. Biggest clue actually for me is loss of sex drive. Calorie deficit starts making me lose sex drive bigtime, then I know things aren’t right and I need to eat more.
    10. Next year, I am hiring a nutritionist.
    11. If I don’t have motivation to train, it is time to take a couple of days off. Motivation lack and heart rate suppression are my two biggest indicators of pushing past my limit.
    12. 9 days of being sedentary causes a scary amount of fitness loss. 6 weeks of being sedentary caused me to go back to baseline. DONT BE SEDENTARY.
    13. It does not take very much volume to maintain fitness. I did a bunch of research on this, and then gave easier recovery weeks a shot, and found out that backing off to 40% volume during recovery weeks was a boon!
    14. For me, 50% or 60% or 70% volume during recovery/consolidation weeks is too much for adequate recovery!!!! 30-40% is better.
    15. 20 hrs of uphill per week is about the most I can do and still do a good job at work (engineering) provided I can accept having no life outside of those two endeavors.
    16. Keep the goal/dream in the front of your mind to consistently stoke motivation.
    17. I love the process. I love to train.

    Photos and Annotated Plots attached.

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  • Participant
    mountain_stoke on #18901

    I almost forgot. Here is a table of my data points to compare markers from test to test.

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    Participant
    Rachel on #18913

    I’m curious why your AeT and your top of Z2 are so different. I thought that the top of Z2 by definition is the AeT.

    Participant
    mountain_stoke on #18914

    @rachelp, it would seem that there are a few definitions out there for these physiological markers. I use the definitions that are most meaningful for me, and I focus more on the lactate curve than the metabolic one. Also, there is still inconsistency with the zones people are using. I have carefully figured out mine in a way that are meaningful to guide my training and it may be different than what is in the new book.

    I use the definition of AeT as the heart rate/ pace at which there is a 1mmol/L rise in lactate above baseline level. Some people seem to consider their Metabolic Efficiency Point (where carbs and fat are 50/50 in kcal/hr) their AeT. For many people, these two points coincide. For me, the top of Zone 2 coincides with my MEP (now after months of training), but not my 1mmol rise. The top of Zone 2 and MEP for me ALSO coincides with my FATmax which is helpful.

    My top of zone 2 is a pace that I can sustain for many hours of straight uphill with the right fueling. My 1mmol rise or what I consider my AeT or top of zone 3 is a pace that I can sustain for maybe 3 hours.

    I use the 2mmol rise definition for AnT, but I also look at the 4mmol total for LT. AnT pace I can sustain for an hour. LT pace I can sustain for a half hour.

    That first lactate inflection point for me seems to be the sweet spot for training aerobic base because I get all the ST fiber recruitment I can to maximize mitochondrial development without the additional stress that is incurred from when I train up closer to that 1mmol rise.

    Participant
    Rachel on #18942

    That makes sense.

    And good work by the way! It’s so nice to see progress from training.

    I’m about five months in and have just recently started noticing the gains I’m making (Strava segments really help me too, so I can see how I improve over time.) Sometimes it feels like a very slow process.

    I’ve also wondered about how much fasted workouts hurt my recovery. On one hand I’ve noticed a ton of improvement in my fat adaptation by doing so many fasted workouts, but then sometimes I wonder if I could put in more hours if I did fewer fasted workouts. It’s tradeoff for sure.

    Participant
    mountain_stoke on #18945

    Rachel – it really does feel like a slow process, but when the gains arrive its so worth it!

    I hope I didn’t get the wrong message across regarding my take on fasted workouts. I’m a huge fan of fasted training and also a fan of low-carb (not keto) diet. Even at high volumes, when I do short to medium length Z1 or Z2 sessions in the morning, I will still do them fasted. Anything longer than 1.5-2 hours, though or anything higher than Z2 I won’t do fasted anymore. At higher volumes, I find I just feel too unstable and on the edge. I think it totally depends on training volume. If I was doing 10 hours a week, I’d probably still do it all fasted except for interval workouts.

    Keymaster
    Scott Johnston on #18947

    Great work Stoke! Consistency has really paid off. Other than a couple of phone consults with me you have pulled this off completely self coached. That can be a challenge. I know you have learned a ton in this process. I chuckle when I read some of your take aways. Many of those points I made in both our books. But I am quite sure that you like meany read right over those not being fully prepared to grasp the meaning. But now that you have done this yourself some of those nuggets really resonate for you. Like the one about having the training plan as a suggestion not a order. Its proof that experience is the best teacher and you will NEVER for get these lessons I am sure. Each time you go through a training cycle you will be able to refine on what you did before because no you ‘get it’ with all the little nuances that are often glossed over in discussions about training. Very cool to see your progress.

    A note:
    What we see is that for folks training above 16-18 hrs/week carb restriction is not very important and will often inhibit recovery. Your fat adaptation will remain high with doing some shorter fasted workouts and keeping the volume of Z1-2 aerobic work high. It is folks training under 10-12 hrs/week that will really see big gains but carb restriction and fasted workouts.

    Scott

    Participant
    mountain_stoke on #18974

    Thanks for the good feedback Scott!

    Yes, nothing I put in that list was novel. So many of these points I listed were made in TFTNA and if not, definitely were in the new book. While I absorbed as much of the science and theory as I could and applied it to my training straight away, I have to admit that I tend to be pretty stubborn about the “learned from experience” type tips in there. I definitely glossed over those types of things.. and thus they ended up my list here! Maybe for the people that are good at taking advice, they’ll prove as helpful insights or reminders to somebody, or reinforcement after reading the book.

    Also, Jared at the CU lab deserves a big shout out. He definitely has provided me with very useful tips and guidance. He knows his stuff.

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