Nordic Ski Racer - cross country ski racing    
Home  |  Racing |  Training |  Rollerskiing |  Trails |  Weather |  Equipment |  Forums |  Photos & Video

Going It Alone

May Pneumonia, June Recover?

June 8, 2005 - By Mike Muha


I missed a couple days of work at the beginning of May due to some virus I picked up, recovered quickly, and had some great training sessions. Then toward the end of the month, I started weakening. I finally went to the doctor the last day of the May. Diagnosis? Pneumonia!

Given the illnesses, I was still able to stay mostly on track for the month (see the table below). I did not do as many interval sessions as I'd hoped, but I made up for it to some extent by picking up the pace during some distance bike rides. Not very specific training, but I had lots of fun racing my friends! And I consciously decided I'd rather do the bike rides than follow the plan.

May 2005 Plan Execution
Training Goal Number of sessions planned

The Reality

Should: 5 mile time trial at 85% MHR
Plan: Race "Road Ends 5 Mile Trail Run"
1 Had a good race, 4th in my age group
Should: 20 minute pace session at 85% MHR
Plan: Race "Rocket Dog Ankle Biter 10K Trail Run"
1 Only 30 seconds off my PR - great considering I did 2 hour rollerski and partied at the Team NSR potluck the day before!
Anaerobic Threshold (AT) intervals (85-90% MHR) 6 Only 3 sets - a run, a skate session, and a doublepole session. But I also had some hard pulls in the right zone during a couple distance bike rides.
V02 Max intervals (90-95% MHR) None On target (if you don't count the high heart rates of the running races...)
Distance sessions Whatever
I have
time for
Too many bike sessions at too high a heart rate - but I had lots of fun! Started rollerskiing again: several 1 hour sessions and a couple longer ones.
General strength 1-2 per
About once a week.

June Plan

The plan again calls for no training above 90% of MHR. I'll be doing more rollerskiing in June, and add in a few moosehoof workouts. While biking and running are fun, I'm only training my lower body. Rollerskiing and moosehoofs are whole-body exercises - not only am I working on ski technique (which I desperately need to improve), but I stressing more of my system.

There are a zillion planned interval sessions this month - it's back to training blocks! All the intervals are between 85% and 90% of my max heart rate. Last month, I tried to hang around 87-88%. This month I'll do the same, but a few of the intervals will be right around 90%.

Anaerobic Threshold Training

As in May, these are all Anaerobic Threshold (AT) intervals. At AT, the production of lactate is exactly balanced by the removal of it from the bloodstream. Going harder overwhelms the body's ability to remove the lactate, and the lactate accumulates. Going easier, and the body has no trouble removing the lactate.

AT varies: it differs person to person and sport to sport. In untrained folks, the AT point may be as low as 55% of VO2 max. In endurance athletes, it's generally 80-90% of VO2 max.

Of course, how many of you know your VO2 max?

There are a couple quick way to estimate your AT without knowing your VO2 max. Use a heart rate monitor if you want to know at what heart rate you reach AT:

  • Warm up for 20 minutes, then gradually increase your effort until your breathing rate suddenly increases and your arms and/or legs really start to feel the effort. You just reached and gone over your anaerobic threshold. If your legs/arms start feeling like jelly, you're going too hard.
  • Do an hour time trial or a 10K race - your average heart rate during the race will be close to your anaerobic threshold.

Your anaerobic threshold will be different for different sports, depending on how much training you do in each sport. If you bike all the time and rarely rollerski, the heart rate at which you reach AT on the bike will be higher than it will be for rollerskiing.

The AT training this month and next is developing the foundation for harder training in later months.

(If you want to learn more about Anaerobic Threshold training, Google for "Anaerobic Threshold." I also have a review of a book on AT training, but the book is not very good).

June 2005 Plan
Training Goal Number of sessions planned
Rollerski camp 2 days
5 mile rollerski time trial at 85% MHR 1
Anaerobic Threshold (AT) intervals
(85-90% MHR)
V02 Max intervals
(90-95% MHR)
Distance sessions Whatever
I have
time for
General strength 1-2 per

Can I do it?

As I write these words (June 8), I still have one day of antibiotics to take to get rid of my pneumonia. I'm going back to the doctor in two days to verify that I'm over it. Essentially, I've lost one week of training, and I've done no intensity for the month so far.

Number one goal it to get well. That means starting up the training slowly. I'll first focus on easy distance sessions and weight training, then try to add in some interval sessions, then end the month with an intensity block of interval session almost every day. My gut feeling it that I'll come up short of the 18 planned interval sessions.

But that's OK! It's only a PLAN, and plans changes based on conditions, health, family and work obligations, and whatever. The key is that I'm trying to focus on anaerobic threshold training this month, and trying to do it using ski-specific methods. If I can keep that focus, I'll be happy.