What even is training for a VK all about?

Quoted long-form from this article:

The sport of VK running is relatively unheard of in Australia. It’s a Euro thing that is quickly gaining traction as trail and Skyrunning grows around the world. The International Skyrunning Federation defines it as follows: “Races with 1,000 m vertical climb over variable terrain with a substantial incline, not exceeding five kilometres in length.” The shortest VK in the world, which incidentally is also the fastest, is in Fully, Switzerland. It’s 1.9 km in length, with an average incline of 52% Essentially, vertical Kilometers are all about super steep mountains where an athlete has to maintain a steady state at close to maximum exertion for anywhere from 30 minutes (For the best in the world!) to an hour. 

Training for such an event requires very specific sessions and to get the lowdown on what to do I asked some of the top guys in the sport. The consensus was fairly clear: 

1) Start by gaining some experience and strength on big hills. Do lots of general runs, up to 2 hours, where you focus on consistent rhythm when climbing and get to understand what your limits are and at what point you are tipping over the edge. 

2) Once a foundation of general fitness and strength is laid, introduce 2 x weekly sessions, one being hills reps on really short but steep climbs (EG: 10 x 60 secs). The steeper the better! The other should be on longer climbs, up to 20 minutes (For example 3 x 10 mins or 2 x 20 mins). 

3) Weight training, with emphasis on power, not endurance should be done regularly. However this is should be introduced gradually into a program. Running should always take priority and a good base of mountain training is necessary before introducing gym work. 

The above is a very basic guide. On the days between the hill-specific workouts, it’s good to maintain a connection with some flat running and speed. A weekly long run of up to 2:30 hours is also important to build fitness and endurance. Cycling can also be a good addition to compliment the running.

 (minor edits for formatting that made it tough to read)

So yeah, I’m a bit weak in a few of those areas. I was doing some short hill sprints earlier in the season, but right now I’ve been mostly focused on getting increasing weekly vertical goals in. This has brought my weekly miles down a bit, since it’s tough to get in 30 mile weeks at 3 mph. That’s my average speed at 22% on the treadmill.

I’ll be posting more of this training specific information as well as condition updates for Squaw Valley where the Broken Arrow Sky Run VK will be held. Stay tuned please.

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Getting Excited for Broken Arrow Sky Race VK in Squaw Valley

I was thrilled to find out that much of the ridge will be clear of snow, except for a few of the usual spots for the Vertical Kilometer (VK) race on Friday June 21 2019. The organizers posted a video of the famous Stairway to Heaven section of the course, showing a little bit of snow to be traversed at the base of the stairs. Check out their video:


VID_20190612_150104647_3 from Broken Arrow Skyrace on Vimeo.



So much fun watching that, right?

My wife said “That looks a lot like you” and I replied “only my thighs are thicker…”

Here is a shot of the advanced weather report for you.

Just yesterday evening I did a big push up the trail on Box Elder Peak, and surprisingly was able to push 700 VAM in spite of much of the trail being under water and scary rough crossings like so.

This is final bridge that stopped me from going further. It was too dangerous to cross.

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Broken Arrow VK Course Updates for June 14

The Broken Arrow Sky Race organizers have posted on their Facebook:

VK drop bags will be available on top of Squaw Peak (at the finish line). It’s helpful to pack a warm layer here so you can hang out and cheer on the other finishers…. but please note that these bags have to be left at the registration tents no later than 830am! Remember … you’ll be cruising down to High Camp (another mile) from the top of the peak too.

I was curious about the descent, and that sort-of a little-bit answers it.


6/14/19 Course Update from Broken Arrow Skyrace on Vimeo.



And then a bit more on the ridge line conditions:

There are patches of dirt for sure and the entire Stairway to Heaven ridge line are dry ….
Remember that while there is a LOT of snow on the course it’s likely to be 80-degrees on race day. Essentially you’re feet will be on a winter surface while the rest of you will be experiencing summer.

So let’s see where I am in my training over the next few days. Remember that to me this is a “B RACE” which means it’s more important than a mere fitness-test race, which is coming up for me in July, but not as important as an “A RACE” which is my August event.

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Testing Stryd Suunto Steady Power Trail Run

Testing Stryd Suunto Steady Power Trail Run

Jun 1 2019 did a 7.2 mile trail run testing out the Stryd and Suunto 9 Baro connection. I had to keep my eyes on the watch since it won’t announce out of zone power but it wasn’t too bad. I was shooting for around 200 watts and hit 202 Normalized Power (from Training Peaks analysis). Stryd on iPad makes this cool little video that I edited in Vegas Video. Check out the zoom in on the power readout.

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Week Straight Out of Heck

So here I am, after what seems like a rest week. Last week we did some trailer camping with the whole family in Yellowstone National Park over the Memorial Day Holiday. Didn’t get any running in, which I expected. This week I led a NICA Utah Mountain Bike League Coach Training workshop and we had a high school graduation. I had to work around my teen racer’s training schedule. We had company and enjoyed late nights and eating out some.

That made it difficult to get in my normal 4 AM training sessions, and even the evening sessions were very difficult to slip in between other stuff. Zwift was taunting me, with the last two events in the Tour of Watopia just scheduled so poorly there was no way I could get to them. Fortunately I got in the first five, so got the special Kit. But I have to keep reminding myself I’m not training to be a bike racer, so I have to just let it go and train hard enough to ride with the team, and provide some cross training for running.

Quandary has been taunting me, with a first weekend of awesome weather since December. I had messaged the staff at the Broken Arrow VK about the recent snowpack, and they assured me that they’ll run in the snow, as fun as that might be. I figured training at Quandary would be a great way to possibly improve my performance and get my snow running legs back. Bad weather is irrelevant to that, since I can stumble along at 1 MPH in 40 MPH winds anytime without training for it.

We had scheduled a family trip to Quandary coming soon, and I’m nervous about the weather, again, stumbling along in high winds is just wasting effort and recovery time to prevent me from really training. I thought maybe I’d slip out alone this Saturday, but we have a family BBQ related to all the fun stuff we’ve been through the past few weeks. Since the weather is most likely going to be an issue next weekend, along with transportation issues, etc, it’s probably best to just not go at all.

Work has been “interesting” – yes that’s the right word. We moved into the new building on a temporary occupancy permit, giving us 90 days to finish the construction while we all sit here with marginal services. There’s no cold water. The fridges don’t work. There’s no place to sit and relax while eating. The desks are all criss-crossed with wires all over the place. A few select of us have our monitors pointing toward our micromanaging overlords so they can see when those of us not related to them are doing something other than buying Ferrari’s for them. Contractors saw and screw and chop and put ladders over our heads. Yeah. Fun fun. And the new location makes driving a little bit more troublesome, especially in the afternoon.

It’s really fun to take up a blog post on whining, and I have gotten in a few miles of training this week. Not as much as I would have hoped for a few weeks out from a race though.

I think I need to add in more long runs, which at my elderly shuffle pace means 2-3 hours for 8 miles or so at a decrepit power or HR output. I also need to get in some hill repeats, assuming I can get outside sometime. That’s been super tough with all the rain and snow and lightning and mudslides. I hope that spring time has finally arrived on the Wasatch Front.

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Broken Arrow Simulation

This morning I was planning on running with an evening ride. That was to interface nicely with a family member who was behind in their training and needed to start riding by 4:30 to get it done and off to their day commitments on time.

Broken Arrow VK Simulation

I decided to try a Broken Arrow simulation and set the Stryd app to 24% and thus the treadmill to 24%, and walked at about a 230+ Watt average power for 70:00 minutes.

I managed to get in 2.8 miles, 3550′ of elevation gain, so right about spot on for the Broken Arrow VK. It was tough, and I’m sure it messed up my Stryd Power Center stats, especially for the Improve tab, but I need to figure out how to crank out 270+ Watts in 70:00 in the wild if I want to achieve my goals.

It also means my calculated CP (running FTP) of 222 is somewhat under-calculated. That means I should only be able to crank out 222 Watts in about an hour before it drops off. Yeah.

Power Hiking Watts

The big trade-off here is that it’s difficult to do this math in regards to power-hiking (fast walking) at 24%. In fact, outside in the wild my 750+ VAM efforts report less than 200 Watts. Anyway, it’s a pile of numbers to make charts and graphs and stuff to help me prepare. It’s all good.

Minor Injury

Managed to tweak my hip muscle moving my own desk items and chair from the old office to the new. Either that or crawling around under my desk trying to get it all connected with a working internet connection. It’s tougher than it needs to be. Especially considering how ridiculously over-priced the place probably is.

Evening Workout

Did a route in Watopia (Zwift) titled “Out and Back Again” and set a handful of PR’s. That was nice. My hip hurt a lot causing me to attempt really good posture to alleviate the pain somewhat. I also used my Selle SMP Hybrid Cycling Saddle which is a really good fit for me and my style of riding. I have another just like it on my main mountain bike. It’s padded just about right, and while it’s supposed to be a  “sit in it and don’t move” kind of saddle, there are actually a lot of positions in which it’s comfortable. Just sayin’.

I ride like this, for the most part in HR and power Zone 1-2 as my cardio when I’m doing higher wattage power hiking. Seems to have worked good over the last few months.

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