Don, You can definitely substitute skinning. You raise an important point about comparing HR zones.
Because skinning requires different technique than hiking, it has the potential to have different HR zones. But I think it can be quite similar to steeper uphill hiking. The problem generally lies in the first few skinning sessions every winter: often there is a huge jump in AeT Pace (vertical pace) over the first few sessions as we reacquaint ourselves with the technique. Assuming that you are using similar grades between your uphilling routes, vertical pace is often a better measure than horizontal pace.
I suggest that you use your current HR zones from uphill hiking, but be patient during the first few sessions. Many athletes report very high HR’s in the first few sessions, but then see HR trend lower and lower at a given pace. I’m not sure of the consensus, but it seems like many athletes have similar vertical AeT Pace between skinning and hiking, assuming the use of reasonably light gear on prepared tracks or groomers.
Each athlete is different, so you could certainly do an AeT Threshold Test once you’ve done a few sessions and see stability between pace:HR.
Conditions in my area are now such that running road or trail is problematic. We have ample ice and snow, making the footing a bit sporty. And while I can get a careful saunter in somedays, I’ve transitioned to skin-ing (AT) a few days a week. Q: do you have any advice for comparing HR zones between running and skin-ing, or do you suggest doing a skin based Aerobic Threshold test, or do you suggest not worrying it?
Advise when able.
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