SkiPost: Lactate Threshold
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SkiPost Arichive Here          Volume 17 Issue 9, June 25, 2015

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Determining Lactate Threshold?

Dear SkiPost,

You mentioned Max Heart Rate but also Lactate Threshold last week. What is it? How do you determine Lactate Threshold and can you improve it?


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 (Immediate Energy) 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.

Lactate Threshold changes day-by-day and, with training, improves week-by-week and month-by-month. The only way to know, and "know" is a bad term to use because it is a changing value, is to take a lab test aimed at finding the threshold.

Athletes have to learn to feel the threshold as they cannot get tested everyday. The test, as well as using a portable lactate tester in training, serves to reinforce or confirm what they feel their threshold is, or what they feel their easy pace is, etc.

Recreational skiers can get tests at university laboratories or better sports centers for very reasonable prices.

If they aren't interested in this, they will have to use a formula and/or go by feel. It's a comfortably hard pace that can be maintained for upwards of an hour and a half. Formulas are not accurate but may give you a start. A skier's threshold is often between 80 and 90% of max (and even higher). Wear a monitor and, starting slowly, build up your pace gradually paying close attention to your breathing and heart rate. When your breathing is hard but rhythmic and in control and you feel taxed but as though you could go for a good long while then you are probably around threshold. When your breathing becomes a bit ragged and just out of control, and you feel that you could not go for very long then you have crossed over your threshold. Note your heart rate all along the way. The heart rate where you are running a bit ragged is above threshold, so error low. It can be the case that you have predicted your threshold at 175 one day but are running ragged at 173 another day.

What you hope is that you notice the running-ragged-heart rate creeping up. 

If it is going down, then you know you are training too hard, too much, and/or resting too little. It is a flexible value, so don't think that this can all be boiled down to some numbers. You will have to be involved in deciding for yourself how fast to train regardless what the hr monitor tells you.

Don't make it too complex. Easy feels easy, hard feels hard... tired feels tired. Trust what you feel, and train well.


Andy at SkiPost

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.


Brought to you by Salomon Nordic

Lactate Threshold 

To improve your 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..


Brought to you by Bjorn Daehlie 

Pelvic Muscles?


I have been training on my roller skis lately and struggling a bit with balance since roller skis have significantly less surface area on the ground. I am sore in places I cannot talk about in public. I have been reading that athletes of both genders sometimes have problems with pelvic floor muscles. I don't have any problems I can just feel them working. I am curious how pelvic floor muscles contribute to balance specifically in cross country skiing. Are they considered part of your "core" that we should be training for balance? Are there any warning signs athletes should be aware of that we are training too hard or too little? Are there any specific training exercises we should be doing to keep pelvic floor muscles healthy and improve balance?


MN roller skier 


Dear MN Rollerskier,


You are addressing something many of us have experienced in the early ski- or rollerski season, especially if we encounter conditions we are less accustomed to, such as balancing skis on ice or rolling on narrow wheels.  It is best to look at muscles in the core and pelvis as part of the "system" we use in any weight-bearing posture or motion, such as standing, walking or any movement on the legs in good body alignment, rather than something mutually exclusive to skiing.  As an active, fit person, you should have a good starting platform for training on rollerskis, and the general advice is to accept you are treading into new or seasonally unfamiliar territory.  Practice, recover and progress in your skills; you are most likely describing a common reaction rather a serious problem.  Here are some practical advice:


  •        Maintain proper, erect, posture that will let you stay flexible and balanced in all three planes.  Rely on skeletal support and let the small muscles in the body regulate the balance.  The large muscles are only working intermittently for propulsion and should be mostly relaxed.
  •        Assume the basic, or fundamental, athletic position; remember all ski motions are operating in, or passing through, this body position.  High hips, bent ankles and knees, neutral shoulders, etc., both buttocks and abdominals in, and so forth.
  •        Maintain good, stable, weight distribution on the soles of the feet and both legs when standing neutral.  Employ full weigh shift when riding one ski, and weighing the ball of the foot when leaning forward and executing the kick-exchange or push. 
  •        Although we lean forward in skiing, maintain good upper body posture rather that sinking in, avoid sitting in the rear or arching the back.
  •        Wear appropriate boots and bindings for the technique, skis and surface you are venturing out on, and make sure your wheels are wearing evenly.  You need to be stable.
  •        Start a comprehensive, full body strength program; you have already identified areas that could use additional work.  Keep in mind that strength is a significant factor in ski training; good skiers train comprehensive base strength, max-, explosive-, and ski-specific strength through the yearly training cycles. 
  •        Practice on the equipment, including the items above, will increase familiarity with the new or untrained elements.  Confidence will be gained and the "fear-factor" will diminish.  Remember asphalt is a tough partner and we are all apprehensive of too close contact. 
  •        Find speed and techniques allowing you to ski in control and relaxed confidence.  That may be slow speed, short time and short circuit skiing, but your abilities will rapidly improve.  Parking lots are great.  Remember even the best skiers and athletes of all sports periodically go back and recondition basic skills.  
  •        Ski in an area you feel safe; this will allow you to ease up and focus on your skill training.  Along these lines, wear proper and adequate protective equipment. 


Keep training, recover and gradually develop or recondition your skills on rollerskis.  We have many months for development before next ski season.  It is often good to use the rollerskis as supplemental, or one of multiple training modes, rather than as exclusive training tools.  That will allow the body to adapt different motions that complement each other in development and recovery.  Do not forget to hit the gym regularly and with a purpose, and invest a few daily minutes in stretching and other fitness maintenance.


The best of luck,  - j


Jon R. Engen

   Trail Running Eyewear?

What is you favorite Bliz for trail running.


I like the Bliz Tempo & Tempo small face with its new integrated strap system. It is the lightest shield made and with this strap you will no longer have to push the sunglasses up your nose on a serious trail run. You can also ride rotate the glasses 180 degrees and attached a headlamp for night running or skiing.

More at Bliz Eyewear


Summer Base Training?

What should I do this summer to peak at the Birkie?

Birkie Fever

Dear Birkie Fever,

That is a broad question so I will give a broad answer.

Base (Summer) Base training is so called because it is the base upon which later phases of training are built. 

Aerobic endurance is the number one component of cross-country ski racing, and it is the component of ski racing which takes the most time to develop. It is the primary aim of the base training period. 
Example: 2hour rollerski or run split between level 1 and 2 or a 3hourr bike on hilly terrain split between level 1 and 2. Please note: about 80% of all training is endurance training. The rest is strength, intervals and races, etc. 


General: Power and strength-endurance are built on max strength. General strength develops overall tendon and muscle strength necessary to support latter forms of training. General strength is the focus through the spring and summer. Example: after building up to weight training for 5-6 weeks, include some ski specific high weight and low rep work. 
Specific: Specific strength becomes more a focus later in the summer and into the fall once a solid base of general strength has been established. 
Example: Endurance session using only double pole over gradual terrain. 


Most intensity should be below the lactate threshold early in the summer. Anaerobic training such as speed is good, but hard aerobic and anaerobic intervals should be kept to a minimum early on. Example: 2x10 minutes at 5 bpm below LT with 2 minutes rest between intervals. Start with 1-2 sessions a week. 

Technique and speed: 

Speed training during the base period should not be done at a hard intensity (short bouts of speed with full recovery are recommended) and should be oriented toward using correct movements at race speeds - not at moving at an unrealistic pace. Example: Incorporate 10 20 second bursts of speed into your endurance training


Andy at SkiPost


Brought to you by Swenor Catalog 

Ski Storage

Is this the proper ski storage?

No, try this

 1)  Cleaning: Use wax remover and Fiber wipe to clean the kick zone and also the glide zone.


2)  Use the finest Steel brush to clean excess dirt from base.


3)  Apply layer of Start Base (or Service or soft non-fluoro glider like SG2) to glide zones.


4)  While wax is still soft use scraper with low pressure to "hot wipe" wax and further dirt away.


5)  Follow with Fiber wipe and then finest steel brush again to remove dirt while refreshing base further. Repeat steps 4 and 5 as necessary until no more dirt is seen coming from base. 


6)  If you suspect your skis have any base damage (i.e. base sealing) consider having the skis stoneground to reveal a fresh base in the spring before summer storage.  A fresh base is the most import feature in a skis ability to hold wax and to glide. Ski shops in most every ski town offer great stone grinding services.


7)  Once you have a clean and refreshed base it is time to saturate the base with a summer storage wax.  In the glide zones melt in a thick layer of Start Base (or Service or soft non-fluoro glider like SG2) and let it cool. If all the wax has been absorbed into the base at any point add another layer on to. Let cool leave it on the ski all summer.


8)  Skis should be storage in cool, dry place, out of sunlight and not near heating elements nor not near the roof where temperature can rise over 50C degrees. Skis should be stored loosely strapped with no pressure on camber so that there is no risk that heat and pressure can alter any of the skis camber characteristics.


9)  Better to do something than nothing. So at the very, very least crayon your softest glide onto your glide zones right now. 



 Brought to you by Start Wax and Poles


Spice up Your Summer Training


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