Trouble raising HR to Z2 on long hikes | Uphill Athlete

Trouble raising HR to Z2 on long hikes

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  • #71783

    I am on the intermediate plan. This weekend is the end of week #3. Guess it took me a while to notice, but I am having getting my HR up on the weekend 15% bodyweight long hikes.

    I am barely breaking into Zone 1… I am carrying 30lb, which is ~17% of my bodyweight, and the terrain is decently hilly. Only on the very steepest parts do I venture into mid/high Zone 1. These parts are steep: you have to try to get enough friction when ascending, and when descending them you brace, shuffle and break your momentum on trees kind of thing.

    So 2 questions:

    1. What’s going on?

    My best guess is that I am aerobically well conditioned for this workout, but my muscular endurance (ME) is poor in comparison. The load feels heavy locally on the legs, but it doesn’t stress the aerobic system as it’s intended. This may be good news if it indicates that I have a good aerobic base on which to build ME. Building the aerobic base is the slog (and I’ve done this pretty diligently over the past years), and the ME component is quicker to add at the end (something I’ve not paid attention to), right? But I am concerned that I am suddenly spending really long hours effectively doing potent ME workouts that will run me into the ground. After the 3rd build week of the program, I am starting to feel run down.

    2. What to do?

    If ME is to be used sparingly and judiciously, then I need to reduce the weight I carry? That would enable me to hike faster and move the HR up? Would switching to running the same course be the same thing taken to an extreme? The lack of weight and faster pace would primarily stress the aerobic system as opposed to leg ME? 2h20min of hilly trail running strikes me as a big deviation from my comfort zone right now though, so is there a rough TSS equivalence between hiking and running the same distance, or should HR capture that by itself?

    Thanks in advance, and happy training!

  • Participant
    TLoftus on #71785

    Have you done the AnT test yet? If you have good numbers from both it and the drift test you may find the difference to be a rather small percentage, in which case moving along your decently hilly terrain in zone 1 is the work that’s needed to build the base. The ME workouts are going up continuous >25% grade steep terrain for an hour and then going down with or without the weight. Its different and feels different than a hike on hilly terrain. Now after 3 build weeks you should have a recovery week?

    Cory from Wisconsin on #71786

    Hi George,

    A couple of thoughts on your questions. In one of the Sunday evening calls, I was asking Mark if the 10-20% BW hikes counted as ME and my take away was those simply count as a normal Z2 workout. The ME workouts involve a heavier pack where HR may or may not exceed AeT but the local muscular fatigue and load on the legs would be quite high, or it could be a 10-20% BW carry where the HR is pushed into Z3. I too am on the intermediate plan and I have not been treating the weekend weighted carry’s as ME.

    This is my first time doing the group training, but based on previous experience it is normal to be carrying a fair amount of fatigue into the end of the third week of a block, which is why the fourth week is an easier recovery week. This gives your body the necessary stress to trigger adaptation and the ‘easy’ week permits recovery to lock in the gains.

    Pay attention to your body and see how you feel/recover during next week. As with everything, it’s all personal so you may need to tweak the plan for an extra recovery day, or incorporate a low stress swim or the like to aid in your recovery. I find the yoga can also help.

    As for your second question, HR is always a function of speed, so if you feel like your terrain is sufficiently steep you may need to up the speed to get the HR into Z2. Or you may need steeper terrain. Just be smart about things – you shouldn’t need to run with a 30# pack (my knees ache just thinking about that) and you don’t want to go faster than difficult terrain would allow. Have you considered hiking the fall line vs the maintained trail? Are there super steep sections of trail you could repeat? I’m a fan of being outside, but for an academic exercise could you try a stairmill or indoor stairs to see how your HR responds?

    Report back on what you end up doing and how your HR responds. Im sure you are not the e only one with this.

    george.peridas on #71789

    Oh good God, no, I meant run it without ANY weight! Certainly not with 30lb… In other words, if there is a continuum of mostly aerobic stress to mostly ME stress, is running on the aerobic extreme whereas a really heavy pack on the ME end?

    george.peridas on #71797

    Well, here is what I am talking about in graphs (see attachments). I did the same ascent as a run without any weight today vs. hike with 30lb yesterday, only continued on for a longer course. No trouble at all getting the HR up! In fact I was venturing well into Z3 on the steeps.

    The red band shading shows the 5 zones (Recovery, Z1, Z2, Z3, Z4), and the red line is my HR. Grey background is the elevation. The bar chart shows time spent in the zones.

    Let’s see what sensei @mark-postle has to say, but to me simple logic indicates I have to reduce pack weight and increase speed.

    (Guess which version was more fun?! I also feel more invigorated after today’s run vs. beat up after yesterday’s carry, even though the carry wasn’t that long and I went 3mi further in the same time on the run)

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    Cory from Wisconsin on #71807

    Thinking out loud on this, but if the 30# hike felt like more work, does that indicate that is where you should focus? Maybe need more adaptation with a pack and focused training would help. That was part of the take away I had from last Wednesday’s call – if it feels harder, then maybe we need to do it more (this was in the context of gym based ME vs. pack carry ME workouts, but I’m assuming it applies broadly too). Not sure of your objectives, but I seldom venture into the mountains without a pack – although it’s not always 30#.

    Anonymous on #71816

    George, This is fairly common and a bit counterintuitive for a lot of folks. As you add weight it “feels” harder but yet you can’t drive your HR up into higher zones nearly as easily. This effect becomes more pronounced as the weight increases. In a perfect world I like athletes to train a mix here, unweighted trail runs (with some power hiking on the ups), more lightly weighted hikes and then some heavier pack weight hikes assuming their goals require this. That way you get your body ready for the reality of a heavy pack during the event and you get in a good bit of training that hits your HR targets to build aerobic capacity. Exactly what you prioritize the most comes back to what your goal climb requires and what your current skill set entails (or lacks). Even within a single expedition style climb you could be dragging a sled part of the time, carrying a very heavy pack part of the time, and dealing with thin air on summit day with a relatively light pack. Ideally you will want to have trained all of these in some way during your preparation.
    All of that said you will want the vast majority of your training time to be spent in some combination Zone 1 and 2, if that means lightening up the pack and picking up the pace a bit on the weekends so you can hit the targets HR on the climbs then so be it. You will likely find that as you get stronger you can add a bit to the pack weight and still hit the targets if that’s appropriate for your goals.

    george.peridas on #71831

    Makes sense, Mark, thank you, as always.

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