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.


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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