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Feathering the Throttle

25 Short, Turkey Chute, Maverick tour profile, GTNPI am a self-confessed, reluctant adopter of performance monitoring technology. I even wrote a piece on my "anti-technology" feelings here. But I will admit, now that I've been using my Suunto T6 for awhile, I really enjoy poking around the data. For someone who blogs about this stuff, using these devices gives me something to write about.

That's to say nothing of these devices' ability to keep tabs on what we're doing and how we're feeling. People like me and the rest of you out there have a tendency to do too much and go too hard in training. Nothing like a little bastard on your wrist telling you as much whenever you care to look. Make a plan and stick to it. These things help.

So, in that vein I thought I would share some of this graphic information made possible by Movescount.

As you all know, I'm in an important training block leading up to the National Ski Mountaineering Championships here in Jackson Hole on January 7th. I began the block during the week of Thanksgiving and got a nice start on things. Unfortunately, being an orthopedic PA, this time of year is also very busy with people wanting to get surgery before the end of the year and the start of a new deductible. This makes for long days in the operating room. Pair this with shitty snow and frigid air hovering over us and I've been less than keen on getting out in the dark to get the hours I need.

The Luke Effect

But the weekend arrives and I can make some lemonade from these lemons. To sweeten this elixir, Luke Nelson came to town for the day since the snow pack near his home is even worse. We were blessed with blue bird skies which made showing him around my playground even better. Although Luke has spent some time running around these parts, he's skied in Grand Teton National Park only once before. 

Luke was itching for a good thrashing and I came up with a tasty sampler that was conducive to skimo training. We started at the Bradley-Taggart trailhead, made the traditional ascent of 25 Short, dropped into Turkey Chute, booted back out, skied the slide path, skinned up the north side of Maverick and then skied out via one of the classic lines on Maverick. With the boney snowpack, I opted to head straight for the Valley Trail to make our way back to the car. This allowed for some spirited classic skiing on the flat track out. Aside from some pesky skin problems leading to a delay or two, we both got what we came for.

Some of the dips in the HR graph above represent stops when Luke's skin ejected. Others are downhills. The important detail is how much time I spent above 155 bpm.

Nearly 2.5 hours spent at Zone 3 or 4. Plenty of work done on that day.

With Luke being, well, Luke (2011 Wasatch 100 runner up and National Skimo runner up, among other accolades) and a few years my junior, I figured it was going to be hard. I think it was more of a tempo day for him but turned into a near-race pace day for me. This was good.

The following day I decided to go back out and do the exact same tour, this time alone and at a more leisurely pace. With the Zone 4 beating firmly in hand from the day before, Zone 2 was the order of the day. Interestingly, with my skins behaving, I was significantly faster on Sunday. The Movescount graphs clearly display the differences in pace and effort.

The above HR profile shows a much steadier output thanks to the absense of mechanical issues. The funny thing is the three little upward ticks. These represent moments when I saw or passed other skiers. I did not really speed up but the excitement (competitive urges) causes a little catecholamine release and my HR goes up. Hopeless, I know.

An appropriate Zone 2 profile. 

My fueling strategy was the same on both days with three Gu flasks and some Chomps. This made for about 1,110 calories for the day - about 250 cal/hr. That's slightly less than what I shoot for but seemed adequate on both days. One thing is for sure, there was no hint of hunger or food craving at the finish. This has been the biggest benefit to my concerted effort to fuel intelligently using only Gu Energy products. It makes for easy quantification of intake and predictable energy levels.

Zone 3 for me?

I have written previously about the dangers of too much Zone 3 training. I've gone as far as to call it the "Dead Zone" or the "Junk Zone". Indeed, training here frequently (Masters Syndrome) yields too little recovery and not enough juice for the training that really matters. But, after talking with others, I think one day a week where no holds are barred and the effort spikes where it needs to (i.e., trying to stay on Luke's ass!) results in a training stimulus that can prepare us for longer days. We'll see. - Brian 

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Reader Comments (2)

I couldn't resist anymore. As defined in UrbanDictionary.com.
Trottle- its a term for a skank or a whore from way back when. your grandma probably used it.
Keep up the good training!

December 14, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJason

Duh, yer funny. Thanks for the heads up. Couldn't see the forest for the trees.

January 7, 2012 | Registered CommenterBrian

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