Typical skier’s intensity level (zone) in a 20 km race.

Q: Would it be safe to assume that a skier that has a few years of training can maintain a Level 4 (near the bottom of that level) for approximately an hour? How about for a full 50km?

Screen Shot 2014-01-06 at 3.33.53 PMA: Typically for a 20 km race a skier will start in Level 3, then drift between Level 3 and Level 4 for the middle of the race (harder on uphills, recover on downhills), and then finish in Level 4 for last couple km. Individual athletes will have differing lactate thresholds (% of hr at which they begin to accumulate lactate) but it is safe to assume that a skier’s zone will be between 80 – 90% of his/her HR max.

A good method of figuring out your target HR zone for the race would be as follows:

1. Figure out HR Reserve: HR Max(220- Age or Known) – HR Resting
2. Low HR Target =  HR Rest + .8(HR Reserve)
3. High HR Target = HR Rest + .9(HR Reserve)

This should give you a good pace to shoot for during the race. We would suggest to test it out during a workout to see how these values feel and adjust accordingly.

A lot of times it is best to start conservatively in long races and build throughout the race to leave yourself energy for the end of the race.

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One thought on “Typical skier’s intensity level (zone) in a 20 km race.

  1. Saving for the end may be a foolish strategy for old people who don’t know if they will ever get a chance again. When I was 62 years old, I did my first 50K, the Birke. I had raced farther than 15K only once, and that was the 25K on the previous Sunday. In wave 9, I went as fast as I could in Zone 4 for most of the race. I got deep into lactate acidosis only on Bitch Hill. I slowed down across the lake because the snow got soft. My legs ached after 30K but I ignored it. I finished in 3:10, not in the top 25 of my age group but very good for a wave 9 start. I had to stop on a few hills to wait for the crowd ahead to move. Just go for it. See Chapter 13, ‘Belief” in “Endure: Mind, Body, and the Curiously Elastic Limits of Human Performance” by Alex Hutchinson.

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