Category: Training

My own training programs or reports

Strength Training for Cyclists

The research done to date on the effects of strength training for cyclists has brought mixed results. The study done by Ben Hurley at the University of Maryland had 10 sound men begin several exercises. They did chest presses, hip flexors, knee extensions, leg curls, push-ups, leg presses, lat pull-downs, biceps curls, standard squats, and bent-knee sit-ups for 12 weeks. Eight other healthy men served as controls. Following 12 weeks, the strength trained men had enhanced their endurance cycling at a force of 75% V02max by 33% with increased lactate threshold of 12%.

These men were untrained before the study and did not complete consistent cycling workouts during the study. The pertinence of this study on strength training for cyclists to genuine competitors is faulty at best.

Strength Training for Cyclists can cause a significant performance improvement with intelligent protocols
Strength Training for Cyclists can cause a significant performance improvement with intelligent protocols

Strength training for cyclists – Study #2

The study did by R. C. Hickson and his partners at the University of Illinois at Chicago was significantly more applicable. In that examination of strength training for cyclists, eight accomplished cyclists included three days every week of quality strength training to their training schedules over a 10-week period. The strength training was fairly basic. It concentrated on parallel squats (5 sets x 5 reps every workout), leg extensions (3 sets x 5 reps), leg curls (3 x 5), and calf raises (3 x 25), all with a fair amount of resistance. The only variable allowed in the study was to increase resistance as strength increased.

The strength training for cyclists regimen had a significantly positive effect on cycling performance. Following the 10 week program, the cyclists enhanced their ‘short-term endurance’ (their capacity to working at a high intensity for short time periods) by around 11%, and they additionally extended the measure of time they could pedal at a force of 80% V02 max from 71 to 85 minutes, about a 20% increase.

Strength training for cyclists – Study #3

On the negative side, we have research on strength training for cyclists, completed by James Home and his associates at the University of Cape Town in South Africa. Seven endurance cyclists were studied. They had an average of around 200 kilometers of cycling every week. They introduced three strength training sessions into their ordinary training schedule. The training program was moderately simple. They did three sets of up to eight repetitions of leg curls, leg presses, and leg extensions. They used fairly heavy resistance.

Following six weeks, the training had created rather amazing increases (on average more than 20%). Though actual cycling performance was not enhanced. On the contrary, they were worse than before the strength training for cyclists study. 40-K race times increased from 59 to 62 minutes The study cyclists complained of feeling drained after their workouts.

Why did Hickson’s study reveal clear increases connected with strength training for cyclists, while Home’s work uncovered the converse?

Nobody knows for certain. This leaves it open to interpretation. It appears to be likely that the training completed by Hickson’s subjects enhanced endurance fibers in their muscles. This allowed them to persevere longer both amid high-force tests of perseverance and delayed endeavors at a submaximal (80% V02max) power. Its conceivable that Home’s protocols sent his competitors into the overtrained state. The perception of fatigue began not long after the start of training. The competitors demonstrated they were essentially doing an excessive amount of work.

Home’s cyclists were averaging 124 miles per week riding when they began their exercise study. Hickson’s competitors were logging significantly fewer miles. One might recommend that strength training for cyclists can deliver real advantages for low-mileage cyclists. It does a great deal less for experienced, higher mileage contenders who have developed impressive performance gains solely by riding. It likely wasn’t the strength training alone which hindered the cyclists. The aggregate sum of work they used in their weekly protocol might be to blame.

Another issue that was not kept controlled in the studies was diet and supplementation. This likewise would have a real effect. It is my own conclusion that strength training for cyclists gives favorable results when done correctly and matched with the right diet, supplements, recovery protocols, and when the load is adjusted to suit the competition and riding schedule appropriately.


A very low impact Band Strength Training Program you can do anywhere anytime


Article courtesy of guest blogging, edited to suit this format

Ice Climbing Training 6 Week Preparation

Ice Climbing Training? It is indeed that time of year. So let’s get this show on the road. I promised a few weeks ago to post my current ice climbing training program.

Ice Tool Chin-ups for Ice Climbing Training
Ice Tool Chin-ups for Ice Climbing Training

I know from previous years that six weeks of good hard work set you up for a much more successful and fulfilling season out on the ice. Ice climbing training is way worth a little bit of effort for about 6 weeks, or more if you have it. I think if you get into a late season, or are mainly going to Ouray, this program could be done for eight or more weeks and work great.

Ice Climbing Training 6 Week Program

It’s the one I’m actually doing right now. Though I am using slightly different weights for it. For myself I’m really posterior chain dominant. That means I can train hamstrings and glutes all day long and get a lot of bang for the buck. So whereas in this ice climbing training program when it says something like 8 x 8 @ 50% – for me that might be more like 8 x 8 @ 100% (the % being percentage of bodyweight for the training load). For example, like with Leg Curls where I’ve actually maxed out the machine at the gym I currently go to. I say that not to impress, but rather to explain that there is a lot of variance in this program. If you can recover fast enough, there is plenty of room to do a lot more weight in the shoulders and chest exercises.

 

I promised this first to my newsletter subscribers, so if you want your copy, please sign up now and get one without the waiting. It’s a 4 day a week program you can use in just about any gym, even a well stocked home gym. There are a few different options listed, but if you need more let me know and I’ll make a revised version and send it to my subscribers.

[grwebform url=”https://app.getresponse.com/view_webform_v2.js?u=BLe6u&webforms_id=3882404″ css=”on” center=”off” center_margin=”200″/]

If you’re looking for a more generic, long term training program, I’ve had quite a few people contact me about my latest training manual Summit Success: Training for Hiking, Mountaineering, and Peak Bagging

It’s 16 weeks that will get you in amazing shape. Check out the reviews.

Ice Climbing Training is sometimes a do-it-yourself task
Ice Climbing Training is sometimes a do-it-yourself task

Treadmill Training for Hills

Why would anyone consider treadmill training for hills?

Here are some of my favorite reasons:

  • Recovery from injury
  • Meeting specific goals
  • Controlled environment
  • Weather
  • Time
  • Local terrain

Let me take a few minutes to examine each of these reasons or excuses for treadmill training for hills.

First of all is recovery from injury. I myself am currently in this group. About a month ago I went for a hike with some 18-20 year old guys I know, and we ascended Mount Royal in Frisco CO. It was fun, but then they all decided to run down and I, like an old man in denial, decided to keep up with them. I did set a PR, but part of that is that I rarely run down, deciding instead (wisely) to preserve my knees.

Hiking group at the saddle on Mount Royal in Frisco, CO
Hiking group at the saddle on Mount Royal in Frisco, CO

So now, yeah, my knees are thrashed. I took a few weeks off, tried to get back into running, but the trails I can get to easily are all up and down, and the downhill was killing me. My knees would never recover on those trails, so I’ll be doing some treadmill training for hills.

Why? The steady incline allows me to set vertical goals without having to endure the descent. This will allow me to maintain some mileage while giving my knees a chance to heal.

Second advantage to treadmill training for hills is that it facilitates meeting specific goals. If you have a goal that includes speeds, or elevation gains, or heart rate, it’s a lot easier to measure, monitor, and track on a treadmill. Need to go 3.0 miles at 5%? Just set it and forget it on the treadmill.

Anaerobic Threshold Training setup with Suunto Ambit 2S treadmill training for hills
Anaerobic Threshold Training setup with Suunto Ambit 2S on the handle of the treadmill

If your goal also includes a heart rate, such as with Anaerobic Threshold Training ARTICLE HERE you can set the watch up in view and then adjust your speed up and down to maintain your heart rate in the prescribed zone. That’s a lot harder to do outside.

Third, it’s a controlled environment. You can wear whatever you want, the incline can be as steady or varied as you want, the speed can be anything you want. There is a bathroom just down the hall. You can refill your water or supplement bottles all you want.

Fourth, is weather. Treadmill training for hills avoids a lot of the complications of the weather and time. When it comes right down to it, if you want to practice being completely and totally soaked and frozen, with sheets of ice on your pants, then it’s probably a lot of fun to go do that outside. But you can’t promise that you will be able to maintain your pace, distance, heart rate, or any of your other goals while struggling for survival.

Winter Trail Running Salomon Spikecross on snowcat tracks
Winter Trail Running Salomon Spikecross on snowcat tracks

Fifth is time. This is a big deal for a lot of people. Sometimes that awesome hill climb route is an hour or more away, You can’t really justify taking that much time out of your day when there is a treadmill in your own home, your own apartment complex, or the gym on the way to work.

Sixth, is local terrain. There are a lot of people who have contacted me with the sad fact that there are no hills in their area. There is a lot to be said for running 5 miles at 6% incline. You can’t really duplicate that experience with stadium running, which really does use very different muscles. For hiking that would be great, but not for running. Some people advocate hill repeats on a 50′ hill, if you have access to one. That might work great for sprint training, but it doesn’t quite duplicate that same type of endurance that 5 miles at 6% does. Treadmill training for hills solves that problem in a very handy, easy to find, easy to use method.

How to use treadmill training for hills

Vertical training protocols are the main focus of my book “Summit Success: Training for Hiking, Mountaineering, and Peak Bagging” and I really suggest you get one if you’re serious about planning a program around vertical goals. It takes you from “the couch” to nearly 4,000′ of vertical per week over a 16 week period, which I feel is a worthy goal for most anyone who is not used to hills.

Treadmill training for hills helped me ascend Orizaba quickly
Treadmill training for hills helped me ascend Orizaba quickly

While the book is specific to hiking, the goal charts include vertical and horizontal goals that you can also achieve through increasing the speed on the treadmill while running on it. That also means you can spend less time on the treadmill, since you’ll be moving twice or more as fast. In my own training I use a similar set of protocols.

Here is a sample of a treadmill training chart as used in the manual, adjusted for 4% inclination, rather than the goal incline of 15% used for hiking:

Week 5 6 7 8
Target Weekly Vertical Ft 1,130 1,255 1,395 1,550
Weekly Miles at 4% 5.349 5.943 6.604 7.338
Incline Miles Per Session (x4) 1.337 1.486 1.651 1.834

As you can see, if you’re a runner it’s really easy to get these miles in every week. If you’re a beginning runner it shouldn’t be too hard either.

I wanted to introduce you to the idea of treadmill training for hills, and give you a few of the best reasons for doing it. I also wanted to show you an example training goal chart, modified for running from my training manual.

In an upcoming article I will explain how to adjust all the charts in the manual for running, rather than hiking, and talk a little bit about using VAM for training goals.

VAM is the abbreviation for the Italian term velocità ascensionale media, translated in English to mean “average ascent speed” or “mean ascent velocity”, but usually referred to as VAM. — WIKI

Thanks, and let me know if there are any questions or things I did not explain adequately.

Treadmill Training for Hills in my own garage
Treadmill training for hills in my own garage

Nordic Walking Training

Nordic walking training might seem to be simply walking with trekking poles. It’s much more complicated than that though. When I was in Russia for Elbrus Race 2013 I had the opportunity to spend a few days with the women members of a Russian Nordic Walking group that stayed with us and did some training at altitude on the slopes of Elbrus. I enjoyed watching their morning stretching routine and certain aspects of that portion of Nordic walking training made its way into my recent book Summit Success: Training for Hiking, Mountaineering, and Peak Bagging. CLICK HERE

Nordic walking training dynamic stretching move
Nordic walking training dynamic stretching move

If you cringe whenever you see someone ambling, shuffling slowly, poking forward with their poles, and their straps on wrong, you’re a Nordic walker.

The point of this 16 week program is vertical training, and is well suited as Nordic walking training. Many of the photos in the book feature trekking poles as part of the exercises. I think that by bringing up your vertical and horizontal speed and endurance you can achieve greater things in your sports goals. Most of my speed ascents are done with poles and I suggest training outside with poles at every opportunity.

Tips: Some things to keep in mind include rhythm and placement. If you can coordinate your arm and leg rhythms you’ll become much more efficient. I’ve found that if you are moving on steep terrain with shorter leg motions you can use shorter faster pole placements. If you’re using longer steps you can alternate pole placements in patterns of two or three steps each and reach further forward. If you’re moving very quickly you might want to actually place the tips of the poles near the outside edge of your foot with the pole angled toward the rear as you pass quickly.

Nordic walking training on the slopes of Elbrus in Russia - 2013
Nordic walking training on the slopes of Elbrus in Russia – 2013

I think a good Nordic walking training program also includes a bit of strength endurance for the upper body, particularly the lats, shoulders, and chest. These muscles work together to provide strong and fluid pole placements essential for Nordic walking efficiency.

Nordic Walking Training Video Example Close Pole

In this example I’m running at about 9:00 pace (nine minute mile) on snowshoes, and due to the speed and short steps I’m using the close pole technique. Notice that I don’t really reach forward much but push to the rear in short powerful strokes. I experimented with this technique after watching Nordic skiers in the last Olympics.

If you’d like to see the best Nordic walking training for vertical and horizontal goals (vertical feet gained and miles) check out my book on Amazon, both Kindle and Paperback. Eligible for Prime and Kindle Unlimited.

CLICK HERE FOR NORDIC WALKING TRAINING

What’s Broken in Your Training – Survey Results

It’s up! I went through the survey responses, compiled them into a spreadsheet, sorted them, and then added it all up. Here for you now is the video I made to reveal the responses and give you a few hints about upcoming webinars and articles, just for you.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=axaJEyHE2As

Be sure to subscribe [HERE] if you have not already done so!

TRANSCRIPT NOW AVAILABLE: Broken Training Survey Results

Remember that right now my Webinar Host only allows me 25 attendees per session so be sure to sign up before they are full. You can only attend by registering at the link I share when I announce each one.

Thanks!

Charles Miske - online coach and trainer. Let me help you achieve your goals
Charles Miske – online coach and trainer. Let me help you achieve your goals

Hope you have great training days ahead of you 🙂

 

Stand Up Paddle Board Cross Training

Stand Up Paddle Board Cross Training

First of all, let me tell you, my hips hurt. Right where my lower obliques tie into the iliac crest. Yep. And I owe it all to stand up paddle board training. I had a chance to try the Stand Up Paddle Board at Keystone Lake near Mountain House Base Area. I used to canoe a lot when I was in my 20’s. I canoed several hundred miles on rivers and lakes in Wisconsin, Utah, Montana, and Nevada. In the past few years I’ve had the chance to also canoe and kayak on Keystone Lake and when they got a stable of stand up paddle boards I became curious.

stand up paddle boards all in a row
stand up paddle boards all in a row

I have a friend who volunteers in my BSA group who is a river guide, and he said that he uses a stand up paddle board while teaching beginner kayak skills. At a recent BSA week long camp out, we had a lake day, and the life guards were all on stand up paddle boards. So I was really curious now. So I arranged to go try it.

a beginner stand up paddle board
a beginner stand up paddle board

Stand Up Paddle Board as Training

I didn’t know there were different stand up paddle boards for different skill levels, but I had to start on a beginner board. It was weird to say the least, but by keeping my knees low and using my hips to drive the paddle with stable shoulders, I was going about 2 + MPH and getting in a good workout. I then switched to an intermediate stand up paddle board. I actually liked it a lot more.

an intermediate stand up paddle board
an intermediate stand up paddle board

That first day I did a little over .8 miles with an average speed around 1.7 MPH. Not too shabby and it felt great on my shoulders, lats, and core. Here’s my Stand Up Paddle Board session from Movescount (Suunto Ambit2 S GPS Heart Rate Monitor – CLICK HERE).

Movescount Stand Up Paddle Board Statistics Day One
Movescount Stand Up Paddle Board Statistics Day One

I went back the next day for another session, I had so much fun. I went back to the intermediate Stand Up Paddle Board and booked it around the lake. I worked on improving my technique and speed and did several laps around the fountains and buoys and got in 1.2 miles.

Stand Up Paddle Board stats from Strava
Stand Up Paddle Board stats from Strava

That’s the view of that workout on Strava, synced from my Suunto. I averaged 2.3 MPH over that 1.2 miles. Much faster than the previous workout.

Movescount stats for Stand Up Paddle Board workout day two
Movescount stats for Stand Up Paddle Board workout day two

Then this morning I had some business meetings to attend and my side hurt quite a bit so I did some mountain bike riding as my cross training instead. The fact that I was hurting proves that I have some weakness there to address. I have to admit though that I’m hooked and will most likely do quite a bit of stand up paddle board training for as long as the lake is open.

Though I am by no means an expert on this topic, I recommend a low balanced stance keeping light on the balls of your feet. Set the paddle into the water in as straight a line as possible to keep from having to switch from side to side with it so often to stay in a straight line while paddling. Try it, it will make sense in motion.

Stand Up Paddle Board on Keystone Lake at 9,300' in Colorado
Stand Up Paddle Board on Keystone Lake at 9,300′ in Colorado

For cross training, these are the muscles that come into play while ice climbing. The lats and core get quite the endurance training session out of this. If someone does know more about cross training with the stand up paddle board and would like to share, please, message me below.

 

 

Stair Climbing for Mountaineering Fitness

Stair Climbing for Mountaineering Fitness – the Video

Stair Climbing is a great way to train for mountaineering fitness if you don’t have access to an incline treadmill or Stairmaster Stepmill. If you are creative in locating a set of steps you can try stair climbing as your own way to get in your vertical feet per week goals as spelled out in my “Mountaineering Fitness: Beginner Training Manual” available soon in Paperback and Amazon Kindle. PROGRAM HERE

Stair climbing also has the added benefit of providing negative, or eccentric contractions just like in a real hiking environment. Stepmills and treadmills do not help train your muscles that provide balance, stabilization and deceleration for your downhill hiking. Stair climbing does since you have to go down any staircase you go up. You would be hard pressed to find a stairway over a hundred feet high, so getting in a thousand feet of vertical will require that you do laps when stair climbing.

You will also need to allow for the downward steps when calculating your time. I have found for myself that I go about twice as fast on the way down. In the video I did a test with a stopwatch to find that I was doing a little under :30 (thirty seconds) per lap. With 54 laps required that comes out to around 25 minutes of stair climbing to get in my target vertical.

A few things to be aware of though for stair climbing:

  1. Be sure to be very careful and under control on the way down
  2. Keep your back in a good neutral arch which can be more difficult on the way up
  3. If you’re on slippery wet stairs be a lot more careful, or on metal stairs with some shoes
  4. Use the handrail if needed until you get your balance and strength up to par

From my Youtube Channel: 

In the Mountaineering Fitness: Beginner Training Manual I go into great depth on training on stairs to get in your weekly vertical. I explain the math used to calculate your weekly vertical goals and how to use warm-up and cool-down walking to get in your weekly mileage goals.

In this case there are 21 steps 8″ average height for a total of 54 laps required to get in the target 750′ of vertical (based on 3,000′ of weekly vertical and 4 training sessions). I measured 24 seconds on an average lap without really rushing it, so expect the entire workout to take about 25 minutes on the stairs.

Production Note: For this video my microphone picked up all the noises from a road a few hundred yards away and a crow that was annoyed by my presence on his stairs. Unfortunately the noise reduction was minimally effective. Normally I would do ADR recording but I wasn’t on my studio PC, so I apologize for those few things that were more difficult to understand.

Stair Climbing for Mountaineering Fitness early morning training session
Stair Climbing for Mountaineering Fitness early morning training session

Steady State Cardio

I was reading this article HERE on T-Nation “The Death of Steady State Cardio” by Rachel Cosgrove. A very long time ago, when I was an ISSA Certified Personal Trainer I attended a trainer workshop in Las Vegas that featured a session with Alwyn Cosgrove, Rachel’s husband. I don’t remember if she was there or not now. It was a very long time ago and I was very busy taking notes from Alwyn’s presentation on client mobility assessments.

AF Canyon Half Marathon in Utah
AF Canyon Half Marathon in Utah

Anyway, like most of these “Steady State Cardio” articles it tries to convince us that HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) is the ultimate and thus only option for training of any type including long distance events, like the Half Marathon. I’ve commented a few times, and shared articles and links to articles about these training protocols. For one thing, a Half Marathon is a relatively short distance, and isn’t a good example of endurance training protocols. I think anyone who has got one under their belts would be able to keep training for them with less than 5 hours a week of running training.

Did you see my article “The One Exercise You Must Never Do…

My own interpretation of this kind of slamming of “Steady State Cardio” is that we’re having a difference of opinion in what that term means. Assuming you slog along at some pace for a few hours and that’s what they mean by steady state cardio, then how about slogging along for a few hours at a 6:00 pace. That’s a six minute mile pace. It’s about a 2:38 marathon or two hours and thirty eight minute marathon. Not too shabby, but not a record either. So let’s do a few hours at 6:00 and get fat, as the articles all stipulate. To be honest with you I cannot run at that pace for more than a hundred (100) yards at a time. So I can’t offer an opinion on how that feels afterward. I cannot do that as steady state cardio.

Treadmill Running at 100% HR Max (220 - AGE formula)
Treadmill Running at 100% HR Max (220 – AGE formula)

Fine then, let’s interpret this from the perspective of Heart Rate. Find your Max Heart Rate, and let’s just do the simple version (220 – AGE). That’s your Maximum Heart Rate (estimated). Let’s do a two hour slog at 100%. That’s steady state, right? Just adjust the speed up and down as needed to stay at that 100% for a couple hours. My graph above shows me doing just that for a little over an hour. It’s not very easy. If you don’t believe me get your cardiologists okay and go for it. Go ahead, then comment below about how fat you feel having done that. Suunto says I’ll have a metabolic effect for 46 hours afterward. That’s a lot of fat burning BTW.

HIIT - heavy weights in the gym with little rest
HIIT – heavy weights in the gym with little rest

As a contrast, here’s my weight session with a 5 hour metabolic effect. Sweet. This is mostly supersets of squats and chinups with very little rest followed by shoulder presses and lat pulldowns. It was a great workout and I really burned the fat. 5 hours worth. Yeah. To be honest that is about 1/9 the effect of my 100% Heart Rate treadmill running workout. But I do weights because I enjoy them and they provide the support my endurance endeavors require. Running uphill requires strong legs. Climbing requires strong shoulders and back.

Steady State Cardio Roots

I think the root of the problem is that some warped peer-reviewed study of people who don’t work out found out that their fuel source wobbling along at a 60% Heart Rate was primarily fat. With fat as a fuel source you could potentially stay on the treadmill all day long burning fat at the “Steady State Cardio” rate of 60% Heart Rate ((220 – AGE) X .6). For me that’s 100 BPM (Beats Per Minute). That would totally suck to be on a treadmill at that speed for any more than a warm-up.

Anaerobic Threshold Training setup with Suunto Ambit 2S on the handle of the treadmill
Anaerobic Threshold Training setup with Suunto Ambit 2S on the handle of the treadmill

One major issue with this is that as we train, our bodies adapt and it’s harder to actually accomplish anything at that heart rate. If we were to wander around on a treadmill at that Heart Rate for a couple hours we’d just be hungry and thirsty and achieve nothing for our health. These articles are correct about that, so long as they’re actually talking about this version of “Steady State Cardio” and not the previous two examples I shared.

This brings us around to the Elephant in the Room. Specificity. Steve House pointed out in his Alpine Training seminar that you have only so much time at 80% and greater Heart Rate, so your approach, maybe two hours, across steep rough terrain, carrying a 40 pound backpack, has to be done at less than that to conserve energy for the climb. You need to train walking 6 miles or so at various inclinations, carrying a 40 pound backpack, while keeping your Heart Rate around 70%. This is a sports specific training objective.

 50 pound backpack on a Jacob's Ladder is Steady State Cardio
50 pound backpack on a Jacob’s Ladder is Steady State Cardio

If you analyze your sport of choice for the requirements, you will get a much better perspective on what is actually required in your training. If you’re wanting to ride a century, you’ll need to get into the groove of spending 5 or more hours in the saddle at a time. You don’t do that tossing kettlebells across the room and returning in a bear crawl dragging chains.

On the flip side, various studies have shown that there is some limited endurance effect to a HIIT protocol. Hence the Crossfitters tossing out stuff like

“you won’t be able to do a marathon, but you can have a fast 5k”

This has given rise to the whole “close enough” or “good enough” protocols like Tabata. I have experimented with Tabata, and a strict Tabata protocol is very difficult to do. I think a lot of the Tabata articles are kind of like taking Yoga at the gym from a facilitator that took a weekend workshop. I also have my doubts that anyone is going to win a SkiMo race after spending a year training for 16 minutes a week.

“Great. But I am doing a marathon” you might say.

Aspen Backcountry Marathon Finish
Aspen Backcountry Marathon Finish

Some hype is being generated about various HIIT style marathon training, but so far no one (as of this writing that I am aware of) has come off the couch and finished a marathon with a good time using this methodology. All of the hype is based on majorly injured previous winners going on to good times using HIIT style training. They already have the gas in the tank so to speak from the long hours of endurance training they used to do and the HIIT training is just keeping the muscle fibers warm and ripe.

If you have read my previous article about Anaerobic Threshold Training HERE you’d see how I feel this is a great alternative to the classic maligned “Steady State Cardio” though in this style of training you’re riding a very fine line, a steady line, of your Heart Rate Target Goal. In my mind though that makes it a Steady State, though a very high state. It’s just a play on words. I wish that instead of ripping on “Steady State Cardio” they’d rip on Low HR Cardio.

It’s not Steady State Cardio that’s the problem, it’s the Low HR Cardio!

Marketing your HIIT programs though is a bit easier to do when you take advantage of how much people dislike wandering around on a treadmill for a couple hours at 60% Heart Rate. I hate doing that and I actually don’t mind being on a treadmill for two hours or so at a time.

Anaerobic Threshold Training

What is Anaerobic Threshold Training?

From a paper at Rice University:
The AT varies from person to person, and, within a given individual, sport to sport. Untrained individuals have a low AT (approximately 55 % of VO2 max), and elite endurance athletes, a high AT (approx. 80 – 90% of VO2 max). You can train your body to remove lactate better and to juice up the aerobic mitochondrial enzymes, thus raising the AT.

There is some controversy involved, and in fact some scientists believe that there is no actual biological effect in anaerobic threshold training. Despite that elite athletes continue to train rigorously to increase their heart rate and the amount of time they can tolerate being on the edge of failure. This is also called Lactate Threshold, or the exertion level at which your body switches between the aerobic and anaerobic energy production systems. As a generality the aerobic system is good for hours and hours of effort. The anaerobic system is only good for a short period of time, possibly only minutes, depending on the biology and genetics of the athlete.

Anaerobic Threshold Training setup with Suunto Ambit 2S on the handle of the treadmill
Anaerobic Threshold Training setup with Suunto Ambit 2S on the handle of the treadmill

There are some tests to determine your heart rate at your Lactate Threshold, but I haven’t had one. I plan to this spring season so I’ll update this and more when I get there. From other common calculations my standard Max Heart Rate is 166 (220 – 54). I’m going to use 166 BPM as my estimated Lactate Threshold then. This is greatly flawed by the way. Don’t do this. I know for a fact I can spend a few minutes at 180+ BPM. I can spend about 30 minutes at 170+ BPM. I eagerly await that test. For your own purposes get the test. Some college sports clinics offer them for less than $150. If you’re a student even less. If you want to proceed anyway and hope for the best, be dang sure you have an awesome aerobic base first.

A session of Anaerobic Threshold Training:

My goal for this session is to spend about 30 minutes on a treadmill keeping my heart rate hovering around 146 to 149 BPM. That’s about 90% of my calculated MAX Heart Rate and 90% of my Estimated Lactate Threshold. Keep in mind that either number you go with is fairly severe for the average athlete. Not that I’m being all superior or anything, but I don’t want to get any messages or comments about strokes and heart attacks. If you can’t do a half hour at 75% or 85% you sure don’t want to try to go at 90% for any length of time.

I’m going to use a treadmill because it’s really easy to adjust the pace as needed to ride that fine line of Lactate Threshold. I used the Suunto Ambit2 S HR Watch which I received from an Instagram contest entry last Spring. I’ve grown to like it and have been using it in preference to my Polar RS800 I used to use. The Suunto has adequate Recovery Time estimates that help me plan my workout schedule.

Treadmill Display after my Anaerobic Threshold Training session
Treadmill Display after my Anaerobic Threshold Training session

I got on and spent about 20 minutes warming up gently at first and then increasing the speed until I got into the upper 140 BPM range. With the watch set on the handle right in front of my face it was easy to keep an eye on it without having to lift my wrist every few seconds. As you can see in the screenshot below I was able to keep my HR in that Zone pretty well level. I wanted to hit 5 miles in 60 minutes as a side goal. I recommend that if you’ve never done this before don’t set a mileage goal. You might be disappointed. Running at 10,000′ of elevation while holding your Heart Rate at 148 BPM is tough enough without adding in all kinds of other distractions like speed and distance goals.

Movescount statistics from my Anaerobic Threshold Training Session
Movescount statistics from my Anaerobic Threshold Training Session

You might not have any issue with elevation, but even so, you’re probably used to drifting in and out of different Heart Rate Zones during a workout and being locked into one might give you fits. After you’ve done this a bit then you can start to set mileage and speed based goals. And that is actually one of the primary reasons for Anaerobic Threshold Training. If you cross fully into the Anaerobic Training Zone you will have only so many minutes left at that speed and you’re done. This is what gets a Tour de France rider into that final sprint. You ration your sprinting and use it in bursts saving for the big one. In fact I found a lot more articles about Anaerobic Threshold Training for riders than for runners. They love that power meter.

Incline Treadmill Calculator Results from my Training Session
Incline Treadmill Calculator Results from my Training Session

So our goal in this training is to ride that 90% line for as long as you can. Ultimately you work your way up to riding that line for the duration of your event. You try to keep your Heart Rate below your Anaerobic Zone until the end and then you cut loose with energy in reserve to maximize your sprint. It’s quite common for someone in a race to spend their Anaerobic Reserves at the starting line and burn out way to early.

My current training goal is Elbrus Race 2014 so I am working up to 3 hours. During that time I will slowly increase in speed and efficiency, as would you if you choose to train this way. In past years I trained somewhat haphazardly going for max speed and max distance and max elevation gained training. I burned out rather quickly since I spent too long in that Anaerobic Zone and it was unstructured. Last year, for Elbrus Race 2013 I changed my training drastically and stayed at a much lower Heart Rate during training and I did finish the race. My protege Todd Gilles came in 3rd place, which was quite satisfying.

It has taken me a few weeks to work this out and get to the point where I could sustain that level of effort for that period of time and work out the technique of adjusting the treadmill to accommodate my Heart Rate Zone target on the fly. Supposedly there are some treadmills that will do this automagically, but electronics being what they are, and treadmill manufacturers not taking things as seriously as we do I can’t imagine great success with that. I suppose a drift of 10 BPM over the course of 5 minutes would be quite acceptable to them. We want nearly instantaneous response to our Heart Rate. This is best done by hand.

Give it a shot if you dare. If you are ready to ride that 90% line and make it work. Please be careful though, okay?

 


I just published a new article for my elite athletes training for Elbrus Race 2014 using Anaerobic Threshold Training as the base of this training cycle: [CLICK HERE]

Slower cardio base training is a key element of my Couch to Colorado 14er Program. Build that cardio base and test it on a 4000 meter mountain. [CLICK HERE]

 If you want any help in your own training, check out my Consulting Programs. I’m available to get you where you want to be. [CLICK HERE]


Update: In discussing this with my Facebook Page it became obvious that I need to add in a disclaimer. This is a very technical specific way of training. If you do not already know that you should be training this way, and understand why, it’s probably not a good idea to just sporadically do it without a good reason.



Trail Running Microspikes in Winter

I normally only wear trail running microspikes, like the Kahtoola Microspikes while doing speed ascents on mountains, like Quandary or Grays, Colorado 14ers. The snow this year has been so soft, and the trails have been so slow, that I tried running in just plain lugged shoes, snowshoes [STORY HERE] and my spiked running shoes [STORY HERE]. A couple weeks ago the Spring Thaw finally arrived and after a couple of good damp snowfalls and a few days of sun the trails became more firm with a good surface for spiked running.

Trail Running Spiked Running Shoes in Winter

I was feeling really good on 19 February, so I took off up the trail with a target of something over 2.5 miles. I ended up with 2.6 miles on my spiked Hoka shoes. I was feeling so good that on the way down I did an interval of just cutting loose and came pretty close to a 5:00 pace. That felt awesome. If you love stats check these out, from Strava and Movescount.

One difference between Strava and Movescount is that Strava doesn’t count standing still in the final calculation, whereas Movescount goes from watch ON to watch OFF. It adds in the dead time when you first start the watch and then when you finally roll in to the bus stop and dig through layers of clothing to turn it off. Not a major deal though.

It was great to average 12:14 after averaging in the 15:00-17:00 range for the last 8 weeks. Did I mention that the snow had been deep and soft up to now? It was inspiring and I decided that I’d rest up a day then try again with trail running microspikes on over my non-spiked Hoka running shoes. Say what you want, but I do enjoy the recovery speed in these shoes.

Trail Running Microspikes in Winter

I went back to the trail then on 21 February after a day of rest and for some odd reason I set my target as a fast 10k trail run on the snow in the trail running microspikes from Kahtoola. Like I said before, I had worn them several times on the mountain trails on my ascents. I just had never tried for a less steep speed run in them.

Trail running microspikes by Kahtoola on my Hoka One One Stinson EVO shoes
Trail running microspikes by Kahtoola on my Hoka One One Stinson EVO shoes

Putting on Trail Running Microspikes – the video

For fun I decided to share this little video of putting on the trail running microspikes. I’m in a bus shelter near the trail head, just for convenience for shooting the video.

I got onto the trail and began running. And I just kept on running. And running. It felt good. I enjoyed the traction and the extra few ounces on my feet from the trail running microspikes was almost negligible. I felt like I was going pretty quickly and that inspired me to just keep going to the turn-around point of the run near the bottom of the Santiago Express lift at Keystone Resort. This road is used by the ski patrol and maintenance crew for the Outback area of the ski resort. That’s why the surface texture varies quite a bit. When the snow is soft it’s shin deep snowmobile chop. When the snow is firm and packed it’s the corduroy snowcat tracks. Like that day.

I felt good at the lifts so I took a chug of water and then took off back down. My goal on the way downhill was to let gravity help me to achieve a smooth even speed at about my maximum endurance level. I hung on hard for the whole downhill and it felt great. I don’t know for sure if the extra traction of the trail running microspikes helped, but I’m very happy with the 6.7 miles I ended up with. At a 12:19 pace. Here are the stats for you that are interested:

The most fascinating thing to me is that in the 2.6 miles I was in Zone 6 (anaerobic pace zone via Strava) for 1:45. In the 6.7 miles I stayed in that zone for 9:30. Freaking amazing to me. In trail running microspikes in the snow. To go 2.5 times (two and a half times) as far and only lose 4 seconds per mile (12:14 vs. 12:19) proves that something I’m doing in my training is working. Gives me a lot to think about, for sure.

Trail Running Microspikes by Kahtoola, Hoka running shoes, and UA gloves, drying out after my run
Trail Running Microspikes by Kahtoola, Hoka running shoes, and UA gloves, drying out after my run

Trail Running Microspikes in Action – the video

Here I am holding a camera out away and trying for different angles without breaking my 8:30-ish pace or falling down and breaking me. I love the shadows on the corduroy snow the best. Then the trees blowing by. Enjoy…

So, how do I feel about the trail running microspikes, now that I’ve had a chance to use them? For one thing I can feel them, even through the thick sole of these shoes. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing. When I picked up the pace I was moving fast enough to ignore them. I loved the traction. The weight is obviously irrelevant. I’m going to experiment with what’s left of the Winter going back and forth between the trail running microspikes and the spiked running shoes to see if I can refine my opinion. If you want to be alerted when I write more articles like this, please subscribe to the blog for updates. Thanks.