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Unsatisfactory Test

Kris Freeman

Fri, Oct  5, 2007 - By Zach Caldwell

Kris ran 21:13 on Sunapee today - 31 seconds off his best time, and about 45 seconds off what we were hoping to see. This is bad news, but it provide some valuable context and and emphasis to what we saw in the last block.

Throughout the last block Kris experienced suppressed heart rates, and a “ceiling” at about 172 bpm. This is normally associated with high loads, and in hindsight it appears very much as though that was the case in the last block. In large part I think I underestimated the amount that the (very hard) intensity sessions would take out of Kris. The overall volume came down a long ways, and the specific volume load was also much reduced from what he’d been doing. All the same, the overall load was very high by any of Kris’s own historical standards for periods of high intensity focus. It’s easy to start thinking of him as super-human, but it’s not a good idea.

Kris was optimistic going into today’s test. His plan was to bring his heart rate up very quickly, and to pretty much throw pacing out the window. This is in response to the sensations of last period, and to his last Sunapee effort, where he felt that he had difficulty cranking up the effort. The good news today is that he had no difficulty cranking up the effort. He hit 170 bpm in the first two minutes, he went through his first time-check at 8:15 - about 15 seconds fast than he had gone in his best efforts to date, and he hit 180bpm shortly after the time check when the steep climbing started. Kris hasn’t seen 180 pbm for a long, long time, and he held the effort there for ten minutes today. His peak HR was 183. All of this would have been impossible a week ago. The good news is that he was able to hurt himself. The bad news is that he doesn’t have the tolerance to maintain an optimal work load against that effort.

Kris is pretty sure that, had he gone out conservatively, he could have matched his best time on the course. That would have been a better scenario than what we saw today. However, it’s equally clear that he didn’t have a whole lot MORE than what he showed in his best effort. All evidence points to incomplete adaptation to the training load that he’s been exposed to. As I mentioned in a previous post, it’s not conceivable that he’s under-trained, and the intensity stimulus can hardly have gotten stale.

The question now is how to respond. The most conservative response would be to return to what we know and what Kris is familiar with. A block of volume focus with very conservative planning and one sustained intensity session per week would almost certainly stabilize the situation and have Kris feeling good within two or three weeks. We have a really clear picture of what to expect out of such a plan because we saw it last year. However, there’s little reason to hope for any further gains using such an approach. While long-term stability is not something Kris is willing to sacrifice, he does want to be operating at a higher level this year than he was last year.

After talking things over with Pete, we’ve decided to carry-on, more or less as planned. Kris is headed off for Lake Placid as we speak to join his USST teammates. He’ll spend the next ten days doing a fair amount of his training with the sprinters, and will have a low-volume week with a couple of pretty sharp speed sessions, and a hard time trial. Kris is confident, after going over the schedule, that he’ll come out of this camp feeling good. Lake Placid is a good place for him - plenty of food options with a cafeteria opened pretty much all day, on-site sports medicine and his favorite massage therapist,


Reprinted with permission from the Kris Freeman website at http://www.krisfreeman.net/. Copyright © Zach Caldwell and Kris Freeman

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