Having Hard Time Running in Level 1 for Long Distances

Q: I am having a hard time running in Level 1 for long distances. Just feels too easy. Do I need to stay in this level for 70-90 percent or can I jump to Level 3?

A: I am familiar with your hesitance with HR levels. As a skier, I was trained to always follow my heart rate. As a runner in college, there was a much higher focus on distance and time (speed). There seems to be a conflict between these two philosophies.

As I have never coached a running team, I will explain the philosophy behind the HR based training that we use on the skiing side of things. In an ideal situation, an athlete will go through physiological testing at the beginning of a season. These tests usually include a VO2 Max test and a Blood Lactate test. There are a lot of data that you can glean from these tests, but perhaps the most important are the specific heart rates associated with our training levels (1-5). These values can very greatly from athlete to athlete due to differences in anatomy, previous training experience, etc. My level 1 is especially high, topping out at 151bpm. If I were to follow a traditional “guideline” hr for level 1, I would barely be moving!

Screen Shot 2014-05-12 at 1.09.12 PMOnce those values are established, it is very important to stick within those training zones. We keep easy days very easy in order to push ourselves harder on the intensity days. There is a very simple truth that if you constantly train at a moderately fast speed, you will only ever achieve a moderately fast speed. An easy workout is designed to allow for recovery while still building an aerobic base. If we are running or skiing at a slightly faster speed you enter a “no-mans land” of sorts, where you are not recovering from a previous day’s hard work out, but you are also not working hard enough to challenge and push your anaerobic threshold.

In short, if you are basing level one workouts off of a general HR prediction, it very well could be too easy for you. If it is within your zone, we do want to keep our easy workouts in that heart rate range.

Hope this helps!

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Trouble Keeping Heart Rate at Intensity Level 1

Q: As a beginner, I have been rollerskating as much as possible to learn how to be more efficient on skis. My problem has been with Intensity Levels. I just cannot keep my heart rate at Level 1. My question: Is this ok or should I be doing something like biking/running instead?

Screen Shot 2014-04-11 at 11.14.14 AMA: It is great that you are getting out there this early in the season but I would be weary on consistently getting your heart rate above Level 1 during your workouts. Right now the focus in the workouts should be towards building the base fitness so that the body is ready when we really ramp up intensity in the late summer and fall as we come in to the competitive season.

I would suggest that you mix up your mode of exercise and do some biking, running, or even hiking. Target your Level 1 heart rate for these workouts for a couple weeks and you will probably start to see your heart rate drop while roller skating to a more reasonable level for the pace you wish to go. Being diverse in your training right now will also keep you mentally fresh and you won’t be sick of it by the time fall rolls around and it is more important to get in ski specific workouts. Hope this helps out and keep having fun out there!