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May 12, 2011: Volume 12, Number 2



 Doing Proper Intervals  


Dear WeAnswer,


Just a few comments regarding the  May 5 SkiPost Base training article.


When you state "80% of the training is endurance training the rest is strength, intervals, races etc..."


This is not the proper physiological way of describing aerobic endurance training since interval training and races, time-trials and pace workouts is a huge part of developing aerobic capacity (VO2Max) and should named as such.


Intensity in the summer:  the author suggest that most intensity in the summer should be below AT and is giving a 2 x 10 min at 5 beats below threshold as an example.


But some training literature is describing LT as 4 mmol lactate. At this level  the athlete is racing at 5-8 beats beats above LT (if using 4 mmol as indicator for LT) since race lactates are i.e 6-12.  So to do summer intervals at 5 beats below 4 mmol lactate i.e. at 3 mmol lactate is in my opinion not very valuable interval training....


American juniors and adult elite racers are struggling internationally as a result of having VO2Max lower than their competitors.


The answers to this problem might be found in not doing enough proper interval training.


Vested Coach




Dear Vested Coach,


You are correct last weeks Base training discription was perhaps a bit to vague and conservative for many athletes.


Below we get into a bit more detail and I hopefully  address your concerns.


Determinants of Performance


1. Vo2 Max - maximum oxygen uptake (Engine Size - how big is the engine?) This is the ability of the circulatory system to transport oxygen and of the muscular system to extract and use oxygen. Vo2 max is an excellent indicator of aerobic fitness, but a poor predictor of performance within a homogenous group of athletes.

2. Lactate Threshold - (RPM's - how high can you race the engine?) Lactate threshold (LT) is the ability to continue using the aerobic system to replenish ATP at high speeds. It is expressed as power output at LT, velocity of LT or percentage of Vo2 max. LT is one of the best predictors of endurance performance.

3. Economy - (MPG - how many miles per gallon does your engine get?) Economy can be defined as the amount of oxygen that it takes for an individual athlete to go a given speed. More economical athletes will have a lower oxygen cost at a given pace relative to a less economical athlete. This can explain why an athlete with a lower VO2 max can still outperform an athlete with a higher VO2 max. Economy is one of the best predictors of endurance performance.

4. Strength. Strength is defined as the maximum force that can be produced in one all out effort. Muscular endurance is related to being able to maintain a submaximal force repeatedly.

Training Zones



Optimal performance is reached by subjecting the body to specific types of stress in order to elicit specific types of adaptations. Using the Lactate Threshold lactate level or heart-rate, as we have done here, is the most precise way to determine training zones.

Intensity: Level 1. Easy, 2-3mmol/L below LT; 30-50 bpm below LT.
Duration: 30 mins. - 1.5 hours.
Objective: This zone is used for warm-up and cool-down periods. Training at this intensity will promote recovery following glycogen-depleting workouts or high intensity intervals and maintain cardiovascular and muscular adaptations. The primary goal of recovery is to deliver O2 and CHO (carbohydrates) back to the muscles.

Intensity: Level 2. Moderate, 1-2 mmol/L below LT; 10-30 bpm below LT. Level 1. Easy, 2-3 mmol/L below LT; 25-50 bpm below LT.
Duration: 30 mins. - 3 hours.
Objective: A moderate intensity is the optimum zone for improving endurance adaptations. An easy intensity delivers the same benefits, but more slowly. Unlike many athletes in bipedal and less-weight bearing sports, most skiers do most of their endurance training at the easier of these two intensities (around 35 bpm below LT). Training in both of the endurance zones improves the ability to deliver more oxygen to the muscle cell and process more energy from aerobic sources. Specific training adaptations include an increase in the size and number of mitochondria, an increase in myoglobin, increased capillarization, and an increased number of aerobic enzymes. Skiers tend to lower the intensity the longer the session. Over two hours = level 1. Under an hour = level 2.

Lactate Threshold
Intensity: Level 3. Moderately high, below LT by 5 bpm, or above LT by 5 bpm.
Tempo: 15 to 60 minute continuous effort at 5 bpm below LT.
Interval: 5 to 15 minutes at LT and up to 5 bpm over LT.
Objective: Training at this intensity will raise LT as a percentage of Vo2 max as well as increase Vo2 max.

VO2 Max
Intensity: Level 4. High, 1-2 mmol/L above LT or at a heart rate associated with 95% of Vo2 max.
Duration: 3-5 minute intervals with half-time to equal recovery.
Objective: This is the optimum zone for improving Vo2 max. Training adaptations include an increase in stroke volume, an increase in maximal aerobic capacity and improved lactate buffering capacity - go fast, hurt less = go faster.

Intensive Repetitions
Intensity: Level 5. Very high, 2-6 mmol/L above LT.
Duration: Short: 30-60 seconds with complete recovery.
Long: 1-2 minutes with complete recovery.
Objective: Training at this zone generally only occurs for a few weeks prior to a major competitive event and increases anaerobic capacity and buffering ability.

Intensity: Depends on amount of rest taken between and number of repetitions.
Duration: Short. 10-20 seconds generally with full recovery.
Objective: Develops technique and use of dynamic, powerful motions.



 TUNA seeking Head Coach-Director


TUNA, The Utah Nordic Alliance, is beginning its search for a head coach/program director. This person will coach top-end juniors as well as coordinate development programs for younger skiers. This will be a year-round paid position. TUNA is based in the Salt Lake area, with many exceptional summer and winter training areas all within one hour of downtown SLC. 


TUNA will be posting ads online and other ski sites) by the end of this week. We hope to hire before the end of June. Start date is flexible. 


If you know anyone who might be interested, please pass this email their way. Questions? Fire away.


Thank you.


Chris Magerl

The Utah Nordic Alliance




APU Fundraising Auction 

The 2010 and 2011 season saw the Alaska Pacific Nordic Ski Team set new standards for American skiing.  APU came away from the national championships with just under half of the thirty medals awarded, and four athletes named to the 2011 World Championships team.  For this past seasons successes the Alaska Pacific Nordic Ski Center received awards for club of the year, international coach of the year (Erik Flora) and athlete of the year (Kikkan Randall).  In the last five years APU has become the dominant club in United States cross country skiing.

APU hosted it's second annual fundraiser on Tuesday night, with a live and silent auction, celebrating the 2010/2011 race season.  On May 12, APU will continue its fundraising efforts with an online auction.  Start bidding today on a Adidas German National Team training jacket from Stefanie Boehler, Atomic 2011 World Cup Race Skate Skis, or a autographed 2011 World Championships relay bib signed by Kikkan, Holly, Sadie, and Lars.  Other items include unique Alaskan experiences such as a Halibut fishing charter out of Seward, Alaska

The online auction will run for one week, starting Wednesday May 12th

Your financial support allows the APU Nordic Ski Team to continue advancing the level of skiing in our country.

 Check out the Auction here

Join the Matt Liebsch Glacier Camp


Join Coaches Matt Liebsch and Gene Kay for one week of easy distance/ high volume hiking and summer skiing on Haig Glacier in the Canadian Rockies. 


 A 10-day trip including van transportation from Minneapolis to Canmore Alberta and back, and helicopter support to carry your gear up to our mountain-top hut.


We will attend back-country orientation training at the ranger station (similar to Boundary Waters training), and then enjoy a 3 hour supervised group hike up to camp. We stay in back-country huts manned with seasonal staff, radiophone and satellite communications with the ranger station and helicopter support teams down below (no cell phone reception on the glacier).


Our camp includes 3 hearty meals a day, hot showers, TV-movies, a mess hall, a bunk house with separate boys & girls areas, and strength/ recreation area. Our daily routine includes: early breakfast, hike 45 minutes up to the glacier, ski on fresh piston-bulley tracks until noon. Hike down for lunch, stretch, take a nap, read, (optional) hike or strength, eat dinner, review ski technique video from the morning, go to bed, get up, repeat.


The ski program emphasizes easy distance skiing with some technique coaching & video analysis on several mornings. Note that this camp is physically challenging due to the alpine environment, changing weather conditions, long distances, and moderately high altitude. You don't need "State Champ" fitness, but must be able to hike 18K and ski at 8500 feet altitude.


Brian Gregg at Haig


For more info visit 


Contact Matt @  763-221-3963 



Matt Liebsch: 

Champion: American Birkebeiner, Mora Vasaloppet, COLL....World Cup Competitor




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