Running out of steam…

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  • #22805

    Hi Team!

    I’ve been training fairly intensively for a number of years, running for 1 to 2 hours on hills every second day and spending some decent days in the Alps climbing some reasonable but not extreme routes.

    I’m pleased with my speed over a height gain of very roughly a thousand meters, or perhaps 1.5 to 2 hours of duration. However, at about that point I hit a wall: my legs feel fatigued, I feel drained and start dragging the chain. There seems to be a reasonably sharp transition from feeling great and capable to feeling tired and slow, always at around the thousand meter height gain or 1.5 to 2 hours.

    If I get into this fatigued state, it takes around three days to recover. In that period, my legs feel stiff and tired.

    I’m 57, if that makes a difference?

    Any clues as to what I can do to progress would be most welcome. Thanks in advance,

  • Inactive
    Anonymous on #22834

    A few thoughts:

    * Climb rates will depend on the average grade. It’s likely the duration that is a wall, not the vertical gain.
    * It sounds like you’re not eating enough. A sudden drop off at the 90′-120′ mark usually indicates glycogen depletion due to lack of feeding prior to that.
    * It could also be connected to pace. Perhaps you’re going too hard. That will make glycogen depletion even worse.
    * You could also be unaccustomed to the duration. If most of your workouts are 90′-120′, then that’s what you’ve adapted to. You’ll need to go longer to get used to going longer.
    * If recovery takes that long, then I suspect it’s a combination of all three, especially the lack of enough food and, perhaps, too high an intensity.

    Lastly, yes, being 57 makes a big difference. Gains will be harder to make, and detraining will be faster.

    Tussock on #22839

    Thanks Scott – your reply brings to mind that of my climbing partners, one eats regularly and goes forever, one eats nothing (same as me) and also runs out of steam at roughly the same time as me. We’re similar ages, and while I feel that I’m working the least of the three of us, the endurance side of things is another story!

    That prompts the following questions:
    * What sort of food is best when in zone 2-3 for long periods – high fat or high sugar? If glycogen depletion is the issue, presumably carbohydrates are best?
    * How effective are sports drinks (electrolyte/sugar) as fuel?

    Guess I’ll have to dig deep and train for longer… damn, a two hour run feels heroic as it is.

    Thanks so much for the reply!!


    Anonymous on #22923

    As a general rule, I wouldn’t stay in Zone 3 for long periods. Lots of Zone 2 is fine if there is a big gap between your aerobic and anaerobic thresholds (which means Zone 3 is wide). But unless you’re in a race, Zone 3 should be used sparingly and only in intentional workouts leading up to a goal event.

    For example, last year was my best skimo race season ever and my high-intensity distributions were:

    • Zone 3 – 2.58%
    • Zone 4 – 1.60%
    • Zone 5 – 0.24%

    And even then, by the time the season was over, I was way more glycolytic and “bonky” than when I started the season. Above Zone 2, metabolism changes quickly.

    It also explains the fading around the 2-hour mark. If you’re not eating and also edging into Zone 3, it’s normal to bonk between 90′ and 120′.

    I would slow down and use the top of Zone 2 as a hard limit. Let your friends drop you if they want to go faster.

    And eat! Unless you’re doing a fasted workout on purpose, you should eat. What you eat is highly personal, but in general, I think most people over-do the “energy” drinks. Just eat and drink what you like.

    Tussock on #23255

    Thanks Scott – very informative, and something new to try.


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