Month: March 2018

VK on the Stairmaster Stepmill

Tuesday January 17, 2017

After doing long hill repeat workouts two days in a row, I decided to mix it up with non-running. That pretty much leaves the Stairmaster Stepmill. An hour VK on the stepmill requires that I go at 85 steps per minute for an hour.

From my calculator HERE

Time: 60:00
Steps/Minute: 85
Vertical Feet: 3400.00
Miles: 0.72
Average MPH: 0.724
Average Pace: 82:49
Vertical/Hour: 3400.00′
Vertical/Minute: 56.67′
VAM: 1036.3

Anything over 1000 VAM is better than an hour VK (by definition, meaning that 1000 meters is a kilometer, and an hour is 60 minutes – DOH!)

Oh, don’t forget I was wearing a 12 lb vest too

Just let me tell you. It’s dang tough. I don’t recommend this to anyone of reasonably normal sanity. That being said, and hour VK is a totally admirable goal. [ Heart rate on STRAVA ]

Shots of the console readout after the workout

BTW: I was wearing a 12 lb weighted vest. Just sayin’


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Hill Repeats Up Silver Fork Road

Monday January 16, 2017

After my great adventure just the day before running Long Hill Repeats at Saint George, Utah, I decided to do some more. This time up American Fork Canyon, on the Tibble Fork Reservoir side of the canyon, from the parking up toward the gate near the Granite Flats Horse Trailer parking. I’ve done this repeat sequence before a few times. Run from the gate at the parking lot to the gate at the fork to Granite Flats.

That’s right, 10F. Dang cold compared to 24 hours prior in Saint George

I wore my New Balance Leadville shoes, and my Kahtoola Microspikes. It was colder than yesterday by about 30 degrees. Yes. 10F was the temperature. It’s difficult to judge how warm or cold you might be under those conditions. When running downhill you have to flip up your hood or otherwise bundle up, and running uphill, unzip a bit to let the heat escape.

Running shoes by New Balance. Microspikes by Kahtoola

Three laps is a bit over 5 miles and that’s what I normally do up here with the time I have. That gives me almost a thousand feet of vertical and a pretty good workout. I wore softshell fleece pants by Sporthill with Saxx boxer briefs and Columbia baselayers. I wore a Pearl Izumi softshell hoodie and Columbia vest. One nice addition to my collection is an Icebug buff that kept the lower part of my face warm.

I got in 5.2 miles and got my Strava PR for the first uphill segment. [STRAVA]


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Dirt Road Hill Laps in Saint George Utah

Sunday, Jan 15 2017

While on a road trip to Las Vegas for a gymnastics competition for my daughter, I had a few hours to kill early Sunday morning in Saint George Utah. The weather was perfect, about 40F and right at the break of dawn I got out to the trailhead, the top of the dirt road behind the condos at the Green Valley Race Loops (MTB race course}.

Mountain biking Bearclaw Poppy at Saint George Utah

I’ve been on this course a number of times, prerunning the course as a NICA certified Level 2 High School Mountain Bike coach, and then riding the local trails for fun and adventure. It’s a blast out there. I will someday run the backcountry trails, but today I needed to do some hill repeats.

From the top of the hill at the condo, down to the lowest section of road is a shorter hill, then the long hill up to the water tank at the walk-over gate to Bearclaw Poppy. I went out and back twice for a total of 5.4 miles and 853 ft of vertical. [Strava]

These are really long hill laps for most normal hill repeat training, but it was hard work to keep the pace up for so long. Much like a Vertical K would be.


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Snowshoe Hike in New Snow

Saturday Jan 21, 2017

It snowed last night, and my plan was to head up American Fork Canyon to Tibble Fork Reservoir and do some longer hill repeats. The road was unplowed and if not for the construction trucks heading up and down for the dam repair project, there wouldn’t even be a path. Fortunately I managed to get my SUV up to the lake parking and took off up the trail.

Even snowmobiles hadn’t made it up yet in any great numbers so the trail was really loose, even in the one snowmobile track there. I kept sliding out of the track and up to my knees. No running today. So I quick switched out of my New Balance Leadville shoes and Kahtoola Microspikes and into my Salomon S-Lap X-Alp Carbon and my backpacking snowshoes. Yeah, you don’t run in backpacking snowshoes.

It was “smooth” going to say the least. It was good work heading up the hill and since I was way off on getting anything on Strava [Strava for this report HERE] I just forked into Granite Flats campground to check out the path up the ridge of Box Elder Peak that I could see in previous runs up here. I really want to do that. Not today though. The path was narrow and not tracked out at all. Sank up to my knees and tipped into the creek bottom, even on snowshoes.

I ran into some 12 year old Boy Scouts hauling sleds down toward the parking lot. They were a bit miserable what with the heavy snow and all. Seriously over 2′ up here. Amazing good fun digging snow caves and hauling sleds. Great to see the young ones hard at work up here.

On the way downhill I met another runner heading up in smaller, lighter, faster snowshoes. He had come up planning on running just as I had, but had a backup plan handy (snowshoes) and was going to make a 2 hour workout his new plan for the day.

In spite of the storm it was actually quite warm, around 24F. I wore my Saxx Subzero wind front boxers, Underarmour windstopper tights, TNF base layer, and Pearl Izumi hybrid softshell fleece hoodie. I got in 2.5 miles in a decent, but certainly not fast time. Overall, great fun in a beautiful setting. I got in a rather gentle workout, and over the previous 7 days nearly 20 miles.


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Catching Up With Some Stats

In January I pre-tested working on a new goal. I started by trying to do the rough equivalent of 3 x 1.5 VK’s a week on the incline treadmill while I build up my strength. Some of them I had been doing with a 12 lb weighted vest. I should probably also work my way up to a 25 lb backpack.

[Weighted Backpack Treadmill Training Guide]

To be honest, it’s a pretty hefty expenditure of energy. It’s apparently not recoverable while also getting in 100 mile weeks on the Cycle Trainer and outdoor mountain bike riding.


1.5 x VK = > 4.66 mi and > 4921′

 Following screenshots from my Wahoo Fitness App, connected to my Adidas Foot Pod

The footpod calibrates itself whenever I run outside with the GPS on. It’s usually off a bit. I’m not terribly keen on it, but it’s what I have that connects between my phone and foot.


Above are examples of the type of stats I accumulate from my workout. It’s pretty strenuous, and I am not able to do it completely hands-free at this point.

Where did I get the idea to do 4.5 x VK in a week?

Let’s examine the details about what a VK means. A VK is about 1000 meters of vertical gain over the course of about 5k of distance. Multiply that by 1.5 for the daily goals and you get 4.66 mi with 4921′ of vertical gain per workout.

Multiply that by 3 and over the course of the week you get in a bit less than 15 miles and a bit less than 15,000 vertical feet.

A well-known author on mountain fitness has expressed that training goals in the 15,000′ per week range put you in an elite group of successful mountain sports folks, and I thought that sounded pretty cool. When I was training for Elbrus Race 2010 and 2013 I was doing between 10k and 15k per week regularly so it sounded about right.

Example stats from a recent trainer ride showing energy expenditure

Sadly, my position as a certified Mountain Bike Coach requires me to be able to ride with my team for most training sessions, which requires me to maintain a high level of riding fitness. So right now I am not able to sustain that level of training in the time period I have.

By time period I have, I mean that I only have about 90 minutes per day average to complete this workout, so I have to maintain a speed that gets my vertical in while also getting in my approximate VK simulated workout.

I pretty much took February off from the treadmill and just recently added in Stairmaster workouts to at least break the monotony of sitting on a trainer for 90 minutes per day.

I did some math and think I have an idea of how to at least get in the vertical, if not the miles. I’ll report back here when I get that tested out.

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