Skimo Training Progress

From April 2018 to March 2019, I’ll be doing lactate tests to track my training progress. The following charts are the results of those tests. Some of the charts below benefit from a comparison to the same workouts from last year.

As I add more to the Google Sheets where I track this data, the charts below will automatically update. You can hover over the charts to see specific values.

The test types are:

1. Capacity Tests
2. Maximal Anaerobic Capacity
3. Local Muscular Endurance
4. Anaerobic Bounce
5. Race-Readiness

(If you know how to make embedded Google charts less ugly, please email me.)

Capacity Tests

Pace profiles detail the results of Olbrecht-style lactate tests. The test is done roughly every six weeks. Each test reveals an athlete’s current aerobic and anaerobic capacity.

Aerobic capacity (AeC) is measured by the pace at ~2 mM of lactate during a sport-specific activity. (To make it most relevant to skimo, I set the grade of my treadmill to 25% and then track vertical meters per hour as the pace.) Anaerobic capacity is measured as the maximum lactate produced after a near-maximal sprint. (Yes, both are just proxies for VO2max and VLAmax, respectively.)

The aerobic part of the test is done in steps of increasing intensity. Aerobic threshold is generally considered to be one millimole (1 mM) above an athlete’s baseline lactate levels. That inflection point is usually around two millimoles of lactate but can vary between 1.5 and 2.5. (At this point, I’ve done enough tests to know that my turnpoint is usually around ~2.3 mM.)

The anaerobic part of the test is done with a near-maximal sprint of 45-90 seconds. Anaerobic capacity is the highest lactate value produced following the near-maximal sprint. Sampled every two minutes (after the sprint), it can sometimes take over nine minutes for lactate to peak. It can take that long for the lactate produced in the muscle to build up in the blood.

Test details

After each test, I write a blog post. In each post, I describe three things: what the new data suggests about my current fitness; what training led to the current results; and how those results will influence the next phase of my training.

Maximal Anaerobic Capacity

Maximal anaerobic capacity is a workout-specific test. Each time I do a sprint workout, I test for peak lactate after the final sprint.

In the chart, light grey lines are from my 2017 sprint progression. As you can see from the higher values, it was a record year. I haven’t been able to match those lactate values since. (But for reasons I’ll get into later, I think that’s a good thing.)

The red lines are this year’s results. Lactate is still high, but much lower than last year. Considering other factors, it’s actually a (counter-intuitive) improvement. I haven’t written a post on the details, but I will shortly. (The difference in CTL values are a hint at the reason.)

I’ve finished my anaerobic development for this season, so the chart won’t change much in the coming months. I may add some follow up spot tests as I maintain anaerobic capacity. If I do, the chart below will show those spot tests.

Local Muscular Endurance

Yuri Verkhoshansky developed Local Muscular Endurance (LME) training. For weight-bearing sports, the LME protocol consists of short-duration, maximal and sub-maximal jumps with a greater-than-bodyweight load. The workouts can be brutal, but they’re very effective. The theory is that the high load recruits more fast-twitch muscle fiber. Once recruited, the FT fiber is forced to work aerobically, both during the jumps and in the active recovery intervals.

I’ve read a couple of Verkhoshansky’s books, but I haven’t found an explanation for why this works. It’s counter-intuitive to have such a short interval regime help long-duration athletes. In his writing, Verkhoshansky mentions “the CP mechanism” (creatine phosphate), but without much explanation.

I have a couple months worth of these workouts coming up, so the chart below will continue to evolve. Unfortunately, I didn’t do any post-workout spot tests last year, so I don’t have any 2017 data to compare to.

Like Maximal Anaerobic Capacity, I haven’t written a post on LME yet. I hope to shortly.

Anaerobic Bounce

Later in the season, I’ll be doing a series of key workouts that alternate between two high intensities. The work interval in the series is greater than anaerobic threshold while the “recovery” interval is at anaerobic threshold.

As I understand it, the theory behind an anaerobic bounce workout is to generate a large amount of lactate during the work interval (above anaerobic threshold) and then force the muscle to reabsorb that lactate during the recovery interval (at anaerobic threshold). Ideally, it should increase my speed at MLSS and make my anaerobic threshold more aerobic (by increasing the amount of lactate that can be absorbed at that intensity.) If successful, this’ll show as decreasing lactate values at anaerobic threshold pace.

Session Baseline Warm Up 1st Series 2nd Series 130% ~2mM Pace Cool Down
14-Sep-18 2.2 3.7 5.4 7.8 8.5 1.1
22-Sep-18 1.5 3.5 5.3 3.6 5.6 1.3

Race-Readiness Tests

Lastly, and toward the end of the year, I’ll be doing a series of readiness tests at race pace. The tests will consist of only a handful of intervals per session, but they’ll be on the long side at ~10 minutes each.

If my preparation between now and then goes as planned, lactate should rise in the first one or two intervals and then roughly plateau (within 10%). As I understand it, the pace of the plateau should be a good indication of my MLSS.

Getting that pace as high as possible is the whole point of the nine-month speed funnel that I started in April.