Building Aerobic Base- I am not sure if I am over or under-doing it?

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  • #7679
    Cosmic Hillbilly

    I am currently two months into building up my aerobic base after a bout with the flu, and I want to make sure I am not overdoing it (or undergoing it). My goal is to become better fat adapted and to increase my AeT before re-starting the 16-week skimo training plan.

    For the aerobic base, I am currently hiking four times a week uphill on moderately low relief trails (500’ to 750’ gain per session). Each hike is approximately 1.5-hours long (app. 60% uphill and 40% downhill). When hiking uphill, I am maintaining my heart rate well within the 70 to 75% range (based on a maximum HR of 182). Downhill, I can barely get above 60% of Maximum HR.

    All my hikes are in a fasted state and done in the mid-morning. I have no problem hiking in a fasted state.

    Metabolic testing shows that my RER of 0.85 is in the 135 to 140 HR range which is 74 to 77% of maximum HR range (RER of 1.0 is around 172). I feel great after each hike and I am tempted to hike more (in volume) per week. My Garmin watch claims, almost consistently, that I have an 18-hour recovery period after each hike.

    I appreciate any input.

    Thank you!

Posted In: Ski Mountaineering

  • Inactive
    Anonymous on #7691

    Hey Swayne,

    It sounds like you’re right on the money with your current volume and intensity.

    Here are a few thoughts:

    * Don’t worry about under-doing it. It’s far less costly than over-doing it.

    * It’s normal for HR to be a lot lower on descents. Don’t worry about trying to get the same heart rate as ascents. To do so would likely put too much muscular strain on your quads, which can take a long time to recover from because of the different type of loading (eccentric versus concentric).

    * If you’ve had a metabolic test done, you can ignore the zone prescriptions in the book. Use the zones from your test.

    * If the top of your Zone 2 is less than 90% of the bottom of Zone 4, then you can do most of your training in Zone 2. If you’re at 90% or higher, then you’ll want to mix in a lot of Zone 1. (To calculate the percentage, divide the high-limit bpm of Zone 2 by the low-limit bpm of Zone 4 and multiply by 100.)

    * Because you said you “feel great after each hike”, I think that you can probably increase the duration or frequency of these sessions. Start with 5-10% per week for a couple weeks and see how it feels. Try and keep that “feel great after” feeling.

    I hope that helps. Let me know if you have any other questions.

    Scott S.

    Cosmic Hillbilly on #7692

    Scott, thank you so much for your reply. Your input is very valuable to me. I will take your advice. I really appreciate your response!

    Thank you!

    Cosmic Hillbilly on #7748

    Hi Scott S.,
    From your advice, I calculated the top of my zone 2 as 146 (80% of my maximum HR) and the bottom of my zone 4 as 164 (90% of max. HR). The results are 89%. So this means I can do most of my training in zone 2 (75-80%) instead of zone 1 (60-75%)? So zone 2 is not going to be the “grey zone” for me?

    I appreciate your response.


    Anonymous on #7768

    Hey Swayne,

    When it’s that close, it’ll depend on the fatigue that Zone 2 creates. Like most things, “90% of AnT” is a rule of thumb that you’ll need to adjust as required.

    When I first started doing a lot of dedicated base building, Zone 2 felt pretty comfortable. After a few seasons, my heart rate didn’t change much, but the fatigue from Zone 2 was greater than it used to be. I had to back off then and do more Zone 1 in its place.

    So if, after a workout, you feel like, “I can’t do much more of this”, then it’s probably time to do more easier volume.

    I hope that makes sense.

    Scott S.

    Cosmic Hillbilly on #7771

    Thank you Scott! I have been noticing the exact same thing when I get up into the middle of zone 2. It is (was) confusing. I appreciate your post.

    Thank you!

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