HR increases when lapping hills | Uphill Athlete

HR increases when lapping hills

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  • #36550

    Hi Guys,

    I’m now at the stage where I’m adding 7hour+ hill days into my program.

    On Saturday I did two laps of a 1000m hill – a good workout! First lap was approx 4hrs with HR occasionally drifting above AeT on the way up – all ok and pretty normal for me. Second lap however, my average HR for the duration was 10bpm higher with much of the up time above AeT and well into Z3 (but never close to AnT). Both laps were done continuously moving with a 20min break for food between the two laps. Second lap was about 1/2hr slower. Although I tried to get up HR back into Z2 on lap 2, I’d have had to go so slow I’d still be out there – exaggeration yes, but it would have been a long day!

    I felt tired at end of day but still good, and followed it up with a gentle 800m day on Sunday. A little bit of quad DOMS this morning as to be expected, but I’ve had much worse. All in all no concerns.

    I’m interested in any comments on above, specifically the HR difference – I’m assuming it’s a natural consequence of fatigue and/or HR drift but you may correct me.

    So two questions if I may:

    1. I spent 2.5 hours in Z3 on Saturday and nearly 30mins in Z3 on Sunday, do I skip this weeks gym based 3×10 Z3 session?

    2. Given these longer days will be a feature of next couple of months training, do I drop planned Z3/Z4 gym sessions and move all gym sessions to Z1 for the remainder of the period?

    For context, main goal is a 10 day tough hut-to-hut ski tour mid April, and all of the above is off the back of 4 months Z2 training Sept – Dec.

    Thanks guys,

Posted In: Ski Mountaineering

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    Anonymous on #36557

    Thanks for writing in with your questions. I’m assuming you ran or skied back down the 1000m hill between laps.

    Your HR drift upward indicates your aerobic base is currently inadequate for this type of training, making this an “overreaching” workout. That’s not a terrible thing to do occasionally, but pushing into Z3 for 2.5 hours Saturday and another 30 min on Sunday made this a really demanding workout that was not doing what you need it to do. Your aerobic capacity deficit forced to make up that deficit by utilizing the glycolytic metabolism to make up the difference. This caused significant metabolic stress and if continued for a few weeks will lead not only to a lowering of your aerobic capacity but very likely to over training.

    For this week you should definitely drop ALL intensity from your training and focus on Z1-2 work only.

    Going forward you need to reduced the intensity of this type of workout. You can’t force an improvement in aerobic capacity to occur faster by training above AeT. In fact this will have the opposite effect and drive AeT down.

    I hope this helps.

    Anonymous on #36571

    Also, a question: Why do you have a 7-hour session in your program?

    derekosborne22 on #36573

    Thanks Scott & Scott – to many Scotts, and suppose I could make it three as a native “Scot” 🙂

    Scott J – suspected that might be the case so glad I asked the question. I know I was moving faster than a typical ski tour pace so room to slow down, but I was surprised/disappointed at how long it stayed up in Z3. It still felt comfortable but that was probably harking back to my typical training regime prior to UA. This week was planned as a light week so light it will be. Points well made and I’ll adjust accordingly. I track it fairly closely and since Sept training to date is 25% Z1, 64% Z2 and 11% Z3 – hopefully that’s not an unreasonable profile, plus I usually have a “walk the dog” active recovery hour most days. I’m guessing to get Aerobic base good enough for that load is going to take a few years training – still plenty of life in the old legs yet 🙂

    Unfortunately not skiing down – all the early snow has gone so walking up and walking down – I don’t run now due to a badly torn achilles in 2009 that never did heal properly.

    Scott S – my goal is a long 10 day ski tour where days will rarely be less than 7 hours and I know 3 consecutive days in the middle will be minimum 11 hours each. Also a typical hill walking day in Scotland is between 6 and 8 hours, although rarely with 2000m vertical and until recently not with a HR monitor.

    Thanks again for quick feedback – very much appreciated.


    Anonymous on #36610

    I track it fairly closely and since Sept training to date is 25% Z1, 64% Z2 and 11% Z3…

    And how are you counting the training time? In hours? Or by goal of the session?

    And how many hours per week?

    derekosborne22 on #36616

    Hi Scott,

    Track by time – minutes per session summed to hours and minutes per week with a running total to date since I started program Sept 2019 – all spreadsheeted. HR via chest strap into Polar and then onto free version of Training Peaks for TSS – that’s more of general interest/learning than decision making. AeT via walking treadmill drift test – started at 110 (I’m almost 64 years young and new to this type of training) and following advice from yourself and Scott J moved up to 120 and am holding at that for this year. May see if I can move up a bit next year. AnT around the 152 mark – again tested as per UA protocol.

    Started at 6 hrs a week increasing by approx 1/2 hour per week for 3 weeks, reducing by around 30% for 1 week then another 3 week cycle starting off where last ended. Last week was 18.6 hours against a 20 hr plan – would have been on plan but lost 1 day due to car issues!!! Most session gym based on inclined treadmill or stepper therefore well controlled re HR. Weekly hill session can drift above AeT but usually by only a few beats and not for long.

    I have every day planed until I leave to Japan on the 10 day tour April 19th – sad I know but hey-ho its the way I am. Plan is dynamic though and continually monitored and tweaked as I learn from the experience, reading, responses to questions on UA forum, and the very excellent support from you and Scott J to direct questions.

    A lot more than you asked for but hope its worthwhile. Any comments welcome.


    Anonymous on #36681

    Okay, great. Thanks for the details.

    In addition to what Scott J. said, you may want to consider:

    1. Cutting high-intensity by at least 50%. For multi-day ski touring, 10% of total volume is much more than I would recommend. I’d do that much for a 30′ goal event, or maybe a 60′ event. As another comparison, 5% for a 2h event is usually enough, especially with the amount of volume you’re doing; and
    2. Rather than really long continuous sessions, you could do split sessions and then gradually put them into one. Or split sessions over multiple days, and again, gradually putting them together.
    derekosborne22 on #36683

    Thanks Scott – comments appreciated and make sense to me. Given I have to drive around an hour to the hills and an hour back, split sessions not really a great option, but need to adapt them to reduce the Z3 – guess I just need to go slower. All other sessions totally controllable.

    On the subject of multi-day trips where daily durations may be long, where should my working HR be each day of the trip – Z2, Z1 or even lower than Z1?


    Anonymous on #36713

    That depends on the athlete. If you have ADS, then Z2. Above that, you’ll have a higher chance of bonking and will likely have to carry a lot of food.

    derekosborne22 on #36727

    Thanks Scott …. that’s comforting as I suspect the pace will often be in my Z1 zone which gives me some latitude to stay Aerobic for most of the time.


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