What is slowing me down?

  • Creator
  • #52659

    Hello everyone,
    I just got back from a steep couloir snow climb and was having trouble with my pacing. In the couloir I could not keep a constant pace, I had to stop and rest every 10-15 steps. It didn’t feel like my heartrate slowing me, but rather my breathing and my legs. I had to stop to let my calfs and glutes rest. As well as catch my breathe. My heartrate hardly went into low Zone 2, mostly it stayed in Zone 1 the whole time.

    I was at 12,000-13,000′ during the climb, and carrying a day pack + skis. Typically I’ve found that I am a bit slower at that altitude, but not this slow.

    Does anyone have thoughts as to if this was a deficiency in Aerobic capacity, or in leg/muscle strength? Or both?

    thanks everyone.

  • Participant
    cnikirk on #52663

    Not sure what your training has been like, but honestly sounds like good old fashioned altitude sickness. It can strike even when you have never had trouble in the past.

    russes011 on #52683

    The part that doesn’t add up is having to catch your breath while still being in Z2. By definition if you’re breathing heavy you are above Z2. An exception to this would be altitude, where your respiratory rate may be low but you’re hypoxic enough to have air hunger, which is a separate phenomenon (usually feels like gasping, as opposed to rapid heavy breathing). Any history of Covid? having had it, with or without knowing it, may reduce your lungs ability to oxygenate (unsure about this).

    If you’re HR remained in Z2 (how did you know?–we’re you wearing a HR monitor?, or was it by feel?), my gut impression is that your lower body anaerobic system is currently underdeveloped compared to your aerobic system. Do you mostly train aerobically? or do you perform metabolic conditioning type work-outs like HIIT, crossfit, ME work-outs etc.? Keep in mind it is possible that your aerobic (Z1/Z2) and strength (max str) systems can be well developed without your anaerobic (ME system) being well developed, which may be the case with you. (alternatively, since the ME system depends on both aerobic and max str, and your HR remained in Z2, somewhat excluding the aerobic system as the culprit, then lacking max str may also have been the real problem).

    Also, maybe it was just an off day and nothing is wrong at all. Perhaps try it again before making a large change to your training program, especially if your program usually yielded good results in the past.

    Best of luck,


    Anonymous on #55123

    I agree with @cnikirk. My first thought was that altitude was the main reason.

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