winter racing and super high efforts

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  • #62655

    I’ve raced 2 Skimo races so far this winter. the data I am collecting is not what I expected. skimo is hard, but my data shows exactly how hard I am working.

    my background in brief:
    – 52yo, 5’11 height, race weight is 189lbs(I carry a lot of muscle, very little fat)
    – I have a background in endurance racing, Nordic as a kid, bicycle racing in my 30s
    – I spent a decade “sedentary” at a desk job
    – 18 months ago I got off the couch and started running. 1 mile at first, but then spent the last 12 months running ultra trail races, including a performance I was very happy with at Broken Arrow this past fall
    – 10 weeks prior to the start of skimo season, I shifted from endurance work to high intensity uphill running(at LT) and a lot of muscular endurance work

    – I have logged tons of data on my Garmin with a chest strap while running
    – in uphill running I knew my LT at around 155-158 and trained a lot of 20-60 min efforts at this level

    which brings me to what I am observing in skimo after 2 races:
    – skimo is full thrash for 2hrs.
    – my last race data shows I averaged 87% of my max HR with spikes to 97% over 2hrs
    – in running, it might take me at least 45 mins to get into my LT HR of 155+, in skimo it takes me about 2 minutes to get to that HR, and that is my avg for 2hrs
    – transitions provide micro-breaks and my HR resets very quickly, but then shoots back up instantly
    – in races, my energy and endurance is very good, no bonking, no lactic acid. I am not sore after races
    – skimo racing efforts are sending my brain into outer space unlike anything I have felt in ultras or sky races. I have felt “race brain” in ultras, but skim-brain is more live hypoxia at sea level. eg, I spoke with someone immediately after the last race and have no recollection of what I said or what they said.
    – I also pay attention to respiratory rate. typically in running my RPM is under 20. in skimo I averaging over 40, with spikes to 55
    – its worth noting that in the last 2 races, temps have been 0-5F, so kind of cold.

    I love the purity of skimo in that you are absolutely at your max for 2hrs.

    I think there is something to be said that I can maintain 87% of max HR for 2hrs with spikes above that. I am not genetically gifted with a massive aerobic engine, but I seem to be able to hold max effort for a longish time.

    I just went for an easy run on my treadmill at a pace that in the past would have put my HR at around 130, today it was and avg of 118 with a PE of 2. I’ve also noticed that over past couple of months my resting HR has gone from around 50-60 to 45 or so.

    basically I am trying to figure out what I can do over the next few weeks to improve my race speed. I’m also wondering if my fall training was not intense enough.

  • Inactive
    Anonymous on #62665

    Thanks for writing into the forum. Great questions. It sounds to me like you did a great job of training for this skimo season.

    You say: “in races, my energy and endurance is very good, no bonking, no lactic acid. I am not sore after races” What’s not to like about that.

    I suspect that your HR is higher in skimo higher than you are used to for 2 reasons. The races are shorter and you change modalities between uphill and down hill. Secondly this is a quadrupedal sport so there is a much larger muscle mass involved in propelling you up the hill. This requires more oxygen. More oxygen can be delivered by an increase in the stroke volume of the heart but that’s not likely to change more than 3-5% with the higher intensity training you’ve been doing. So the only option to deliver more O2 to the muscles is to increase heart rate.

    The fact that you can maintain almost 90% of your max HR for 2 hours is an indication of very high fitness. Hence my comment above about your doing a great job of preparing.

    This is clearly demonstrated by the treadmill run you just did. Congratulate yourself!!

    However, and this is really important if you want to keep feeling this way during races. DO NOT GET GREEDY WITH YOUR TRAINING, ESPECIALLY IN THE RACING SEASON. You see these gains and you think there must be more to come. By everything you have said your body is now at a fitness level that it has never been at or at least not for many years. To expect expect it to be able to keep increasing indefinitely. This is a classic mistake. Most people think to themselves: “if all those intervals were good for me before I just just do more of them”. This runs a big risk of eroding the aerobic base of support that is so key to the results you’ve been seeing. If you have more than 2 weeks before the next race AND you plan to do several more races this season I would recommend adding more volume in this mini training block with maybe 1 interval session. I give you this caution because I have seen the wheels come off the fitness machine alarmingly fast and the athlete go from the state you are currently in to a mere shadow of themselves a week later.

    I hope this helps.

    brianbauer on #62678

    Scott, thank you for the speedy reply. you are dead right about what I was thinking: “if all those intervals were good for me before I just just do more of them”. thats exactly what I was thinking: I need more intervals now!! that said, I spent the last week doing “Lower intensity” uphill skiing…I was thinking of the past week as “putting in the time”. aka volume. one day last week at the end of my volume workout I decided to race a chairlift up a bunny slope. maybe 600 yards and only a couple of minutes of hard effort. racing the lift was a fun way to sneak in a short interval.
    my plan for this weekend had been a bunch of crushing intervals(oops)…but, based on your response, I think I will keep doing the volume work and sneaking in a fun interval here and there. I have 4-5 more races this season, and I don’t need wheels coming off!

    thank you.

    Anonymous on #62682

    Keep in mind the words of the great coach Renato Canova when he was discussing the preparation of runners as they neared a major competition. Keep in mind that they, like you are already at over very close to a pinnacle =f fitness.


    In other words: Don’t get greedy.

    Good luck and have a great season.

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