Category: vk training

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Rut Training Run – tapering was an option?

Tapering? I normally don’t taper well. I experimented with it off and on over the years. Right now I’m watching my stats in both Training Peaks and the Stryd Power Center so I can see where I’m at in readiness to race. I experimented with tapering for the Broken Arrow VK and I think I was a little flat for that one. Could I have finished 10 minutes faster? I don’t think so with the technical terrain, especially the snow.

Scenery at the start of the Broken Arrow VK in Squaw Valley

This week I’m experimenting with tapering for the Rut Training Run. I’m pushing my stats for three runs in a row of greater than 220 RSS (Stryd) or 150 TSS (Training Peaks). This is done on the treadmill at roughly 3.1 miles in about 64 minutes (5k) at 22% incline (a little over 1000m of climb).

There’s my Stryd Race Readiness from the Metabolic Fitness graph in the Improvement tab. It’s right on 65.

40-65 Skill means you are prepared for a half marathon race.
55-70 Skill means you are prepared for a marathon race.

I’m currently at a little over 7,000′ of vertical for this week. Tomorrow I will be over 10,000′ and then I’ll be done running till Saturday at the Rut Training Run. I’ll be doing some cycling tonight, Wednesday (OTB Trainer so lucky to get a mile or two in) and Thursday.

I think I made a mistake for the Broken Arrow VK by not getting in any appreciable vertical early that week. We’ll see how I feel on Saturday and apply the lessons learned for my next race. Possibly another “C” race in early August.

All in all it’s been awesome to try to come back to running, such as it is with all the vertical. Yes, it’s fast vertical, but it’s slow running. I’ve felt it when I’ve been out doing 10:00 miles out on the road. Ugh.

Map My Fitness (Map My Run, by Under Armour) has a 1000 km challenge every year. I’ve entered it for a handful of years running (pun) now, and every year was so totally lucky to get in even 300 km. This year I’m way ahead of pace. I’m over 800 km already, putting my solidly in the top 5% of registrants. Super duper. I’m actually on pace (according to Strava) to exceed 1000 miles this year.

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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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Catching Up With My VK Training

Today was interesting, to say the least. Work has been a struggle, as we’re moving into a new building which is apparently an owners’ wet dream, but downgrading the employees even more than in the current building, if that’s at all possible. I won’t go into details, but right now we’re sitting elbow to elbow at kids picnic tables holding hands, singing Kumbya, and getting nothing at all done. The Google studies this nonsense was based on used interns (slave labor) and they believed that if they were super productive they’d get their own offices, but instead were let go at the end of their counter-intuitively productive runs.

That stress has been difficult to overcome, and has led to a reduction in recovery, which is an expected result. 
On top of that I’ve bumped up my outdoor running, shooting for various VK-Like ascents in the afternoon. In spite of the snow and slime and mud and muck and 30 degree spring weather. In both cases of recent attempts I’ve had to bail after 2400 to 2600 feet of ascent. One for a creek running down the trail and the other for slushy snow over slimy mud at the edge of a seriously 500′ vertical drop onto Hwy 92 up the Alpine Loop Road.
On Saturday I ended up riding the Eagle Race Course on my mountain bike, leading a group slowly around on a warm-up lap for a Time Trial attempt at the Varsity Team. Oddly that resulted in some awesome heart rate bumps, since it was effectively a maximum exertion full body workout that I wasn’t much used to. I haven’t ridden outside since December, except for the bike skills classes I lead for the Utah NICA League.
I’ve been doing a lot of Zwift, and even that has taken a hit lately with the outside steep runs added into my training. I’ve noticed that running up the hills, trying to emulate a VK, that I start getting slower and weaker in a couple of steps at 60, 75 and 90 minutes. I need to train around that, so looked at my Stryd to calculate what a good gap would be for a 90 minute effort, and decided that if I could get on the treadmill at 21% and hold it there at 220 watts for 90 minutes I’d be filling in one of those gaps.

[Stryd Power Center screenshots to think about]
Like I said, I had a bad night and worse morning, without really good quality sleep so I decided not to get up at my usual 4 AM and instead slept in till 5:15. Nice. But I’m really pretty well behind. So this afternoon after work I did it. Did 3.8 miles and 4200′ in 90 minutes at 21% averaging pretty dang close to 220 watts.

A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to take my daughter to her Gymnastics Regional Meet in San Diego. While there I got to run at precious oxygen rich sea level and hit a one mile PR. Nice. It was inspirational. I also got to do some serious hill climbs in the area around Sunset Cliffs. 
BTW: I was watching Anime on Amazon Prime Video while on the treadmill and in the sauna. 

Anyway, just thought I’d take a few minutes here to catch you up on what I’ve been doing lately. I’ll try to spend more time here in the next few months as I prepare for my most important races and events this year.

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