Uphill speed crashes after +2000m ascent

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  • #21956


    Feedback from the Innsbruck 85km/+3800m race when I finished in top 10%.

    Up until 20km/+2000m and for the first 4h, I could easily sustain a good heart rate at 150-160bpm.

    After that, things changed quite suddenly: still very good speed on flat and downhill and fast heart rate, but on uphills vertical speed dropped by 30% and heart rate was stuck to 110-120bpm. If I’d try to push it, I would breath much harder but without much effect.

    You can see the detailed metrics there: https://www.strava.com/activities/2340832726, with graph attached. I train about 2000km and +120000m every year.

    Is that typical for most athletes ? Any recommended training to fix that ?



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    Anonymous on #21993

    What you describe is very common for athletes who start too fast and do not have sufficient aerobic base coupled with muscular endurance training. A low heart rate with high effort indicates local muscular fatigue. This is just a guess because we do not know what you have done for training. In what intensity zone is 150-160? Chances are good that you need to start slower. It is much easier to make up ground and places in the later stages of races when others are fading and you can still be strong than it is to go out too hard and then be the one who fades away at the end.

    More Aerobic Base and establish your zones carefully. Add ME training on top of a good aerobic base and then pace yourself a bit more.


    l.tregan on #21996

    Thanks Scott for the input.

    Is there such thing as – let’s say – 150bpm is my Zone 2 for flat & downhill (that I could sustain for the whole 10h) but 150bpm is my Zone 3 for uphills (that lasted 3h) ?

    My thinking was that if there is, probably I would need more aerobic uphill training. Otherwise, focus more on ME.


    Anonymous on #22017

    Yes, it is possible that your uphill Z3 is different than your downhill/flat Z3. It is quite possible that local muscular fatigue from the downhills is have an effect on your uphill speed late in the race. I’ve seen this often. The way we have fixed this is with specific ME training. YOU might want to read this https://uphillathlete.com/ultrarunning-tor-des-geants-luke-nelson/. We used the gym ME workouts described near the end of this article. Luke did 13 ME workouts over 16 weeks.

    It goes without saying that this ME work is most effective when layered on top of a substantial aerobic base. And you must maintain that base volume training during the ME period.


    l.tregan on #22054

    Thanks ! Bought my first weight vest 😉 As well as a portable lactate measurement device to try to determine my zones on uphills vs. what I get on tracks.

    On aerobic training: understood it needs to be maintained – will follow that.

    Concerning that statement on ME:

    “The point of adding the extra weight is to increase the recruitment of the working muscle’s motor units. Your brain will increase the mass of muscle recruited as needed to get the job done up to the point of maximal strength. The extra weight causes motor units not well endurance-trained to be called upon to assist in getting the job done.”

    Would you know if that is solely coaching experience, or if they are some studies supporting this theory ? eg. weight training leads to more recruited fibers and decreased long-term fatigue.


    Anonymous on #22069

    Yuri Verkhoshansky, who is the godfather of modern strength training methods wrote extensively about what he called Local Muscular Endurance in his book Special Strength Training Manual for Coaches. In another of his books Block Training for Middle Distance Runners he explains the experiments he conducted over 3 years with elite level Soviet middle distance runners. This is where I learned about the methods. Since 1992 I have used this method successfully on hundreds of athletes of all levels from strong amateurs to the very highest level including the Olympics.


    pshyvers on #22456

    It could be interesting to find a local steep trail and hike 3800m of gain at a modest pace. See how you feel afterwards. If you try to do those 3800m and key muscles are fatiguing even at a laid-back pace, you’ve narrowed it down.

    I empathize; I have also noticed I hit a wall on ascent. For me, I’ve since discovered the small muscles in my hips start to fatigue early, which seems like a clear sign I have ME work to do there.

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