Best bang for buck uphill repeats leading up to Skimo Race

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  • #36847

    I have A skimo Race coming up in 4 weeks, Audi Power of Four in Aspen. I have plenty of endurance from Ultra racing but my uphill average speed is killing me. I tried 20 second intervals but I suffer at high altitude and have no strength.

    Would my interval uphill ski day be best working on those shorter intervals, or should I focus on longer ones like sets of 6-10min for threshold? With only a few weeks left, I’d like to maximize those sufferfest days.

    The race has 4 extended grueling climbs.


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    Anonymous on #36857

    Best bang for buck? That’s kinda like asking what the best screwdriver is… It depends. In this context (but not in all), you should focus on Zone 3 repeats.

    Twenty-seconds is too hard and too short this close to a skimo race. For training, they would be best far in advance of something like the PoF. With only four weeks before the event, you want something close to race pace.

    Check out our How & When for High-Intensity. Focus on the Z3. Good luck!

    treverjt on #36858

    Thanks Scott! I’ve been following the uphill athlete training but can’t seem to get my pace up those steep grades (20% and up). It’s like I hit a wall.

    Is it OK to add in some zone three during my long endurance ski? Or would you keep the workout separate as shown in the training plans?

    Anonymous on #36863

    …can’t seem to get my pace up those steep grades…

    Can you elaborate? It’s normal for pace to fall a lot when compared to low-angle terrain. For example, on a treadmill at a 25% grade my AeT pace is half of what it is flat. Heart rate is the same, but pace is much less.

    Is it OK to add in some zone three during my long endurance ski?

    How long? Unless it’s for specific preparation, I would usually keep them separate. FOr something like the PoF, you should probably do both.

    You could try two week of separate workouts and then two weeks mixing them together. The latter will simulate the race somewhat.

    P.S. The best piece of advice I can give for a long skimo race is this: DO NOT bolt off the line with everyone else. Hold some back. If you blow yourself up at the beginning, your average pace will be lower than if you start more conservative.

    treverjt on #37381

    To be more specific…

    My endurance, speed, and threshold ability on rolling terrain, tech descents, and flats is strong. When the grade gets steeper I suffer and slow disproportionately to my teammates/competition. Whether we are going easy, doing sprints, or in a race, I suffer much more than the others and get dropped. I’ve been throwing hill sprints, rucks, and long thresholds at it but it doesn’t seem to improve.

    This year I am coming in with a huge base and injury free. I want to train the ups a bit smarter to maximize my gains. It could be a lack of genetics, or my weight 185lbs at 5′-10″ but I still think I should be a bit faster compared to the rest of my fitness.

    Where should I focus my uphill work this spring? Po4 is my last skimo, then I’m competing in Ultras, MTB stage races, and OCR ultras. They all have a ton of gain.

    Thanks for the skimo help, I’m sticking to your recommendations.

    Anonymous on #37426

    Okay, thanks. That helps.

    Just to confirm: When on the flats, you can hold with a certain cohort, but not uphill?

    Weight could definitely be a factor. (It is for me too. I’m slight by climbing standards, but big by skimo.) I’ve been informally noting weight:height ratios for a few years. It’s not uncommon for the top guys to be 1.9#/in. (I’m 2.2.) You’re 2.6. The numbers will vary, but it’s the general idea of a power-to-weight ratio. If you’re ~35% heavier per inch of height, that’s a huge difference to overcome.

    I’ve noticed similar things cycling. I have a couple of large powerful friends that can drop me in the flats, but the situation is reversed on long climbs.

    So what to do? If the weight is muscular, then it may take years to lose it. As far as I understand, long, easy endurance has a catabolic effect. And you’d want to avoid any upper body work. But I haven’t found much other information. When I Google things like “lose muscle” usually it’s just results about sick people…

    In my experience, it takes a long time. For example, when I was sport climbing a lot, I was heavier up top and lighter in the legs. But after six years of skimo, it’s only slightly reversed. My “fighting weight” is pretty much the same, but the furniture’s been rearranged. (My wife prefers the climbing arrangement…)

    treverjt on #37567

    That’s super interesting. I’ve had the power to weight done for my biking but have never seen it shown in lbs/inch. I’m definitely stronger than I need to be for adventure and OCR racing but the mass is hard to come off.

    I think I’ll focus on body composition this season and be more linear with my hill work. My first A race in Mid May so I have a few training blocks to get through.

    Thanks for all the help! Heading to Aspen to pre-ride the course and practice the bowl!


    Anonymous on #37709

    Just to clarify: the fudgy metric I described doesn’t describe power.

    It’s just the relationship between height and weight. A higher number is worse.

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