I had a decent day of training yesterday on Snow King. Most of the time I skin straight up the mountain to the switchback taking you to the Cougar chair. I then do intervals on the upper switchbacks. When I get to the top, I rip the skins and ski back down to that same Cougar chair switchback and repeat. Yesterday I managed to put together 8 intervals ranging from 2-8 minutes.
In rando racing, the idea is to go all out…hovering just below your anaerobic threshold. Since I track my heart rate during these interval sessions, it is easy to see when I am truly going hard…or just going through the motions. I usually use 170 bpm as an indicator of a good interval workout. The more time I keep my heart rate above 170, the harder I am pushing myself. I find combining this type of training with long, slower days to be beneficial to my fitness level.
When I got to work, our shop guy Kris Quandt (who is just getting into rando racing), asked me about ascent rates or feet per minute that top racers shoot for. For US races, you really need to be able to ski 3000′ in under an hour to be competitive. Elite European racers are quite a bit stronger and can rally 4500′ off in the same amount of time. Feet per minute is something that is kinda a factor of the terrain. For example, in yesterday’s effort, my overall average ascent rate was 45 fpm, as tracked by my handy Suunto X6HR. This number represents an average rate of ascent during both moments of intensity and recovery. During the the intensity phase on the upper switchbacks only, the rate climbs to 60-70 fpm.
Sometimes I will be doing intervals and feel like I am really pushing it, only to look at my watch and see my heart thumping in the mid to upper 160’s. This tells me that I am probably not quite as rested as I should be for interval training and am not benefiting as much as I could. Having an overall plan or goal is essential for increasing your fitness and being competitive.
Well enough of that…now it’s time to ski powder. I’m heading to Wimpy’s again for some ‘worker turns’. Hopefully the weather will cooperate later in the week for some bigger and more exciting adventures.