Haute Route Plan – heart rate drift with longer workouts

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  • #49013

    I’m a 64 year old male who started structured training for ski touring and hiking in fall 2019 after reading the Uphill Athlete books. My goals are to slow the rate of decline and make skiing and hiking with younger companions more enjoyable (less painful). I’m working with the Haute Route ski mountaineering plan for the second winter. This year I added a month to the front end, gradually ramping up, and will add a month to the back end to continue strength/ME workouts and lengthen back-to-back ski tours before (hopefully) a week-long ski tour.

    I’m currently in the phase of the plan that adds a couple of back-to-back 3+ hour AeT tours. I begin these in lower range of Zone 2, but find that my heart rate drifts after about an hour, becomes progressively more difficult to keep below AeT, and after 3 hours, I find it impossible to keep below AeT on steep uptracks or when breaking trail. A contributing factor might be that grade generally steepens as I get further into the mountains. I have ADS (AeT – 135, AnT – 160), but based on a discussion last year between Scott Johnston and Derek Osborne, I understand that at my age, I won’t be able to get rid of ADS.

    My question- am I stuck with this heart rate drift as an age-related ADS symptom, or are there ways I can try to reduce it?

    – is it something that I should just ignore (I don’t get exhausted when working multiple hours in Zone 3)?
    – should I just be patient and assume it will take multiple years of consistent training?
    – should I start slower with lower heart rate (Zone 1) and hope that reduces drift?
    – should I stop when I exceed AeT and wait for as long as it takes to stay within AeT?
    – I generally don’t eat during these sessions, so should I start to take carbs after an hour?
    – other?

    Thanks to Scott and Steve for developing this great resource. Wish I’d had it available years ago…..

Posted In: Ski Mountaineering

  • Participant
    Rachel on #49060

    I’ve heard starting at a lower HR helps (over at a Maffetone training forum). The drift will still happen, but you will still be in Z2 if you start low enough. Also I have started eating 60-90 minutes into my long runs/hikes and it seems to help as well.

    Also I get the same drift, I assume it happens to everyone who is working out right below their AeT. I’ve noticed my rate of perceived exertion feels like upper Z2, but my HR is Z3. Last week I had this problem, and it was compounded by the fact that the steepest part of the entire route was the last two miles. Tomorrow I’m going to start at the low point so the second half is all downhill which should help. And I’m going to try to keep my HR a tad lower too.

    I’ve never heard about ADS at a certain age being a lifetime sentence, do you have a link to a thread about that?

    terry on #49067

    Thanks rachelp. Thread I mentioned is In Ski Mountaineering from Dec 2019.

    Anonymous on #49475


    Thanks for your questions regarding HR drift and skiing.

    First let me clear up something. If I left you with the impression that you can address ADS and make gains and even fix it completely I was not being clear. While I don’t have much data on this I do know about myself and several of the older guys we are currently coaching. I can say that in my experience you can improve ADS at our age and beyond. I don’t know who Derek Osborne is so I can’t speak for him. I agree with Rachel that I’ve never seen anyone at any age who didn’t see gains from a properly structured aerobic base period (provided they are already very fit with a high aerobic base).

    Fixing ADS is a long term process best done in the off season. It is going to be very hard to make gains in your ski touring season. Ski touring even with pretty light gear has a very high ME component baked into it because of the weight on each foot and your back. Couple that with a steep up track and breaking trail and it no wonder you are seeing this upward drift in HR. You are exceeding your aerobic capacity on at least part of these tours.

    The best way to fixe ADS is with a high volume of work in Z1-2. Going above Z2 is only going to slow the process. I recommend you focus on training that is within your aerobic capacity as much as possible this winter. If ski touring is your main focus I would start with a focus on aerobic base building program in the spring when touring season is winding down. This is not rocket surgery. Just get out on your feet hiking and running below what you determine to be your AeT. The more volume the faster the aerobic needle will move (while paying heed to your fatigue levels of course). But, it will move with this approach and if you can refrain from pushing above AeT during this extensive base program.

    I hope this helps.

    terry on #49545

    Scott, thanks for your response and the explanation. It’s great to hear that improvement beyond what I’ve experienced to date is still possible. I have been trying to stay within aerobic capacity whenever possible, and will definitely continue to do so. It’s a great excuse to get out regularly and explore the mountains.

    Andrey on #53917

    Scott, you say “ I’ve never seen anyone at any age who didn’t see gains from a properly structured aerobic base period (provided they are already very fit with a high aerobic base).” Do you mean that if someone is just starting his journey into the endurance sports and is not very fit with high aerobic base, will be better of starting his training in higher zones (Z3 and Z4)?

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