Kris did his most realistic race preparation session of the season to date yesterday. It was another sustained intensity session, but rather than going uphill for 50 minutes, he went back and forth on a rolling road with some steep climbs and some downhill sections. His only regret was that there was nobody out there to test himself against, and no coach to observe him. By his own report he was “hauling ass”, with an emphasis on the second word.
The session was set-up as a 50 minute sustained effort using a heart rate in the low 170s as a baseline. That was the level that he’s been able to sustain for an indefinite period. More than that requires recovery. So the idea was to use that level as a baseline, and to accelerate from there, and then recover when the opportunities present themselves. Kris has been wanting some powerful V1 work, so that’s where he focused his accelerations. And the last 3K were one long acceleration to the finish.
Kris says that he was able to put himself into new territory in terms of perceived lactate load, and still recover on the fly with relative ease. Having the odd downhill in the race definitely makes for a different set of demands and sensations. He also felt pleased with the way he was skiing technically - particularly on the V2 he felt that he was able to engage his upper-body more powerfully than he ever has, and it was resulting in some very long strides.
Interestingly, his heart rates were running fairly low. The highest he saw was 173 - a much lower ceiling for such an effort than he saw during the Lake Placid camp. He doesn’t feel even remotely overtrained or stressed right now, but it appears that his body may have adjusted quickly to the back to back 5 hour ODs he did Thursday and Friday. There is definitely some sort of spectrum or continuum of heart rate suppression responses that Kris encounters. Or maybe there’s only one response that is always present through a range of training-induced stress loads, some of which are excessive. It’s a marker that we haven’t got a totally firm grasp of. Conventional wisdom would suggest taking any heart rate suppression seriously, but then, there’s not much in Kris’s training that’s governed by conventional wisdom.
Today’s session has to be considered further reinforcement of positive signals. Kris has impressed himself before, but generally it’s been in response to huge aerobic fitness gains resulting in an inability to hurt himself. This is the most positive I’ve heard him sound about realistic race fitness and the ability to hurt and recover on the fly. It’s been seven weeks since the end of the volume focus and the shift toward intensity and Kris is starting to look like a ski racer. During that period he’s had training weeks of 8, 25, 21.5, 20, 9.5, 18.5 and 21.25 hours. A definite change from the extremely high volume of the first five training blocks. Incidentally, he has just started the 27th week of his training year - just past “half-way”. At the half-way point he had 566 hours of training.