I’m a 50 year old lifetime endurance “athlete”. My main competitive sport has been years of trail running, but I also compete in skimo and nordic skiing events. While I never stopped being fit and active in the mountains, other than running in xc in college, I had not done structured training until 2019, when I started with the UA books and programs, and I have been a disciple ever since. I have done AET/AnT testing several times, and I believe these are pretty accurate. The AeT was done on a track (at approximately 5000ft) and pretty consistently found my AeT at 150 (though the MAF equation states I shouldn’t be training higher than 135, which is the bottom of the UA aerobic zone). My AnT is 160 done on modest 20 degree hill for about 40 minutes, and seems to be reproducible.
I do quite a bit of vertical training as I live in UT. Though these mountains are not very high altitude compared to CO.
Over the last 3 years, even as I have structured my training using UA programs, I find I have less capacity to tolerate much high, sustained effort beyond AeT while competing in uphill events, such as skimo racing. As I approach AnT, my muscles and breathing start to struggle quite quickly. Altitude, which I used to tolerate very well, seems to particularly exacerbate my inability to maintain a higher HR.
So the question I pose is this: What is deficient? Should I be working on getting my AeT pace faster to race at AeT, and if so how does one do that specifically for uphill? Do I incorporate more high intensity uphill training closer to AnT or even higher to with the hopes to increase AnT? Or do I focus on more ME training? More weight training? I imagine the answer is all the above, but it seems I should be working on my weaknesses in particular.
I understand this is all an effort to prolong the inevitable of father time. But I am surprised that even despite good structured training, volume, vertical, and recovery/rest under guidance of UA principles that I don’t seem to be improving, and may actually be regressing over the last 3 years. I have seemed to have plateau’ed, and while I am older, I believe the decline is not so severe that some of it can be ameliorated with a change in training tactics. Thanks.