Kris has been in Lake Placid with the rest of the National Team, and a bunch of others, for the past couple of days. Friday was a very easy day of training, just about an hour of skating, easy. Today Kris did his first session with the sprinters, and the indications were quite good. Perhaps more importantly, the lactate response seems to point to a fairly highly-refined level of fitness.
The format of today’s session was a bit different from anything Kris has been doing. They did a three-minute effort, basically at race pace. The target was (as I understand it) a minimum of 10 mMol/L. Kris approached this as a maximal effort, and he had the fastest time by three seconds, finishing at just over 14mMol/L. Andy Newell was also in the 14mMol/L range. I don’t have times or lactates for other athletes. The remainder of the session was six 90 second efforts targeting a finishing lactate of 6mMol/L. Kris started this phase by following Newell, and for the first couple of efforts his lactates were about 5.5mMol/L and 3.5mMol/L. It seems that, for the first one, he may still have been clearing the first effort. As the second lactate dropped fairly low, he did the remainder of the efforts at his own pace - a bit faster.
All of this is encouraging. It’s impossible to compare efforts to rollerskis with any reliability, but for Kris to be “in there” with the sprinters is a very positive indication. Those guys are legitimately fast, and for Kris to have access to that kind of pace is really good news. It’s very hard to gauge such factors training in isolation.
Perhaps the most interesting data-point is that 14mMol/L value after the 3-minute effort. That is a very high lactate for Kris, and indicates that he has well developed lactate mobilization capacity at this point. This has been one of the training goals as we turned the focus toward intensity. However, that 14mMol/L value is higher than what I would have expected at this point after a single 3 minute effort. This is not bad news - it’s apparent (from the fact that he was going as fast or faster than some of the best sprinters in the world) that he’s “buying” very high workloads with that high effort.
It’s very clear, based on Kris’s sensations, that such a response would have been impossible 10 days ago. The light training load of the past week appears to have given him a bounce in his ability to bring the workload up quickly. We saw that in the Sunapee test as well, but it wasn’t accompanied by an impressive time.
Today’s effort does shed some light on the Sunapee test result though. Today we learned that Kris can generate 14mMol/L in three minutes of effort. At Sunapee he went out and intentionally threw any thought of pacing the effort out the window. He did that because during the previous training block he’d had a lot of difficulty bringing his heart rate up. However, he did the Sunapee test somewhat rested, and his heart rate came up quickly. If he went out and generated something on the order of 12 to 14mMol/L in the first few minutes of the Sunapee test, and then he carried that level of acidosis up the rest of the hill, then there’s no big surprise that he went a bit slow. And now we know that he’s CAPABLE of generating that level of acidosis quickly.
All of this inspires quite a lot of confidence in Kris’s current form. We’ll need to keep a close eye on the next few sessions. He’s got an OD schedule for Tuesday, and it’ll be interesting to see how much less glycogen he’s storing compared to when he was doing multiple six hour sessions per week. This session is scheduled for five hours, but Kris is aware that he may need an earlier bail-out. On Thursday Kris will do double-pole intervals with the sprinters. That’ll be another opportunity to measure his workload capacity, and gain some more indication of his fitness level. And the big test is the roller ski time trial on Saturday - a week from today. If the coming sessions support the observation that Kris has made rapid gains in high-end anaerobic fitness and lactate mobilization, then we just need to look for appropriate recovery and load management. We still want to see a good Sunapee test as an indication of where his fitness is compared to last year. He’ll have an opportunity for that on Wednesday, the 17th.
If the last Sunapee test raised more questions than it answered, I think we got some answers today. And fortunately, the answers are encouraging. There is clearly work to be done before Kris heads over to test himself against the rest of the World’s best. But today it looks like the tools are available to get the job done.