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Fast Skinning

 Poster: A snowHead
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I want to do more ski mountaineering (not racing, just mountains) objectives but I am so slow skinning and I don’t know what I’m doing wrong.

I’ve been doing lots of steep trails runs this summer and I still am so slow! I spent a lot of time this summer running the places I ski tour thinking it was the altitude that was bothering me but still, we’re talking like a 20 min mile uphill power walk (on my trail runs) this summer breathing comfortably, hitting right at the edge of Z2/Z3 and now I feel like I’m redlining at a 45 min mile uphill on the SAME EXACT TRAIL on skis.

I don’t have the world's lightest setup but like 1600g skis and lightweight touring boots (atomic backlands).

I need to figure this out before I really do any of the things I want to do! How do I improve?
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Skiing tends to be slower than running at the same rpe anyway, so a certain loss in speed is to be expected.

As you say 1600g is not particularly heavy - sure you can go lighter, but you are reaching the point where that potentially comes with sacrificing the downhill somewhat. So that makes me think maybe it's not the equipment that's the issue (others may disagree).

How are you calculating your training zones? Are you using different numbers for ski and running?

How many hours a week are you training? What % is in each zone?

Have you had any formal tuition to get your skinning technique optimised?
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What do you mean by slow skinning? How fast are you climbing?

Climbing speed will depend a lot on how technical the route is and then how good your technique is. Obviously gear and gear weight are a factor. Are your skis 1600 g each ski? is that including bindings?
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In Episode 94 of The Ski Podcast, we chat about PIN bindings - at one point Al Morgan notes that an extra 1kg on your feet is worth 5kg on your back, so evidently any savings you make can make a lot of difference

Listen about 51 mins in:
https://audioboom.com/posts/8080241-94-skiing-in-svalbard-narvik-jasmin-taylor-interview-listex
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Quote:

an extra 1kg on your feet is worth 5kg on your back


The problem with this is that a lot (maybe nearly all) of the research supporting it has been done on hikers and runners, who need to lift their feet clear of the ground and put them down again, for every step. I don't think lifting your entire ski counts as good skinning technique. So weight in the ski is not directly comparable to weight of footwear. I'm sure there is an element of truth (you pick your heels up whilst skinning) and there are other factors (e.g. lighter boots are probably more flexible) but I'm sceptical that the 5x factor is accurate.

I'm sure this has been debated at length before, but I can't remember where on here.
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Whatever the calculation of benefits of cutting weight of skis and boots versus items in a backpack, what about the benefits of taking weight off tubby stomachs and chubby shoulders?
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pam w wrote:
Whatever the calculation of benefits of cutting weight of skis and boots versus items in a backpack, what about the benefits of taking weight off tubby stomachs and chubby shoulders?


That's takes a bit of work. People would rather spend silly money on some fancy ultralight gear snowHead

Quote:

but I'm sceptical that the 5x factor is accurate.


Yep it's way overblown, probably by manufacturers trying to sell lighter gear. There is actually a paper looking at cross country skiing that found no significant differences in blood lactate, heart rate, or work rate at either 5 or 12 degree climbing when adding 1.5kg weight to the ski. https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0197592
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So does @bonglats really exist ?
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@boarder2020, I would still say skimo is a bit different then xc skiing, and extra weight on ski shows slightly more in skimo then in xc skiing, but on the other side, skimo is still way closer to xc skiing then running.
I agree with @pam_w that it's much more beneficial to lose some weight off the body, but then again @boarder2020 is spot on with this, that it's too much work to do this, and people rather do it "easy" way spending insane amount of money to have 500g lighter equipment, while at same time carrying 20kg too much on their body. But then again, why should I care what someone else does Smile
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@bonglats, any chance of coming back with answered to some of the questions raised by others here? Then you might get better answers in return.
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I have pretty heavy Nordica Enforcer Free 104mm skis which are approx 2kg for a single ski and then another 1.5kg for the frame binding. But coupled with fairly lightweight freeride boots (Atomic Hawx Ultra XTD) and Colltex Clariden light skins they don't seem to cause too many problems going up as I have worked on my glide technique.

But, running and touring do use muscles in a different way, when you tour you may be gaining endurance as you get fitter so that you can go for longer but unless you have done any specific training on gaining speed you will probably not see any time per m difference. Interval training for example, each tour spend 3 minutes at full speed... really sweating and breathing heavy then 10 mins at normal pace. Keep this going for shorter tours then build up. It's like sprint training for cycling and running.
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primoz wrote:
@boarder2020, I would still say skimo is a bit different then xc skiing, and extra weight on ski shows slightly more in skimo then in xc skiing, but on the other side, skimo is still way closer to xc skiing then running.
I agree with @pam_w that it's much more beneficial to lose some weight off the body, but then again @boarder2020 is spot on with this, that it's too much work to do this, and people rather do it "easy" way spending insane amount of money to have 500g lighter equipment, while at same time carrying 20kg too much on their body. But then again, why should I care what someone else does Smile


I can keep up with my significantly lighter touring partners through investing in lighter gear. And I can comfortably outdrink them afterwards Very Happy

And IME it’s much more enjoyable touring on light gear than lugging up a heavy rig!

On my local circa 450m of vertical steep skin track 3.8kg vs 2kg rig 32 mins vs 27 mins. The gap would get wider on a longer stretch
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Quote:

And IME it’s much more enjoyable touring on light gear than lugging up a heavy rig!


To an extent. There comes a point where most would argue you are sacrificing the downhill enjoyment. Also cost of ultralight gear is certainly a factor.

Quote:

On my local circa 450m of vertical steep skin track 3.8kg vs 2kg rig 32 mins vs 27 mins. The gap would get wider on a longer stretch


Interestingly the study I mentioned above found that although biological measures were no different with the heavier ski, rate of perceived exertion increased which they suggested could lead to reduced effort. There is also a huge placebo factor involved, people's performance decreases when they think they are inferior equipment. This study on roller ski resistance is a good example - found that simply marking the exact same roller ski as "high-resistance" created slower times https://www.researchgate.net/publication/348770761_Placebo_and_Nocebo_in_Sports_Potential_Effects_of_Hypothetical_Differences_in_Roll_Resistance_on_Roller_Ski_Performance

I'm not saying lighter ski weight isn't at all beneficial. I just think it's a little overblown by some how much the effect is. Improving fitness, more efficient skin technique, faster transitions are likely to offer greater returns. Unless you are skimo racing how much does speed even matter though? For most of us touring is quite a fun leisurely affair with plenty of stops to enjoy the view, eat snacks etc. Once you are out for the day the differences become pretty negligible, travelling uphill 25% slower (I'm not suggesting equipment can save 25%!) turns a 4 hour day to a 5 hour day which doesn't seem to change much in the grand scheme of things.
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BobinCH wrote:
On my local circa 450m of vertical steep skin track 3.8kg vs 2kg rig 32 mins vs 27 mins. The gap would get wider on a longer stretch

I'm not saying it doesn't show, but personally, I rather ski good on way down then be super fast (still quite a bit slower then those skimo guys running uphill) and then suffer with superlight crap on way down. Otherwise yeah sort of similar time difference between my 106mm powder setup and 86mm spring skiing setup. About 6 to 7min on 4km and 800m ascend. But thing is, what do I get for being 5min faster up? Pat on my back from myself, while skimo racers are about 15min faster then me on that hill?
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boarder2020 wrote:
Quote:

And IME it’s much more enjoyable touring on light gear than lugging up a heavy rig!


To an extent. There comes a point where most would argue you are sacrificing the downhill enjoyment. Also cost of ultralight gear is certainly a factor.



Are you saying this isn’t the most fun you can have on skis?

http://youtube.com/v/XeBrGSYJ3xw
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boarder2020 wrote:
Quote:

On my local circa 450m of vertical steep skin track 3.8kg vs 2kg rig 32 mins vs 27 mins. The gap would get wider on a longer stretch


Interestingly the study I mentioned above found that although biological measures were no different with the heavier ski, rate of perceived exertion increased which they suggested could lead to reduced effort. There is also a huge placebo factor involved, people's performance decreases when they think they are inferior equipment. This study on roller ski resistance is a good example - found that simply marking the exact same roller ski as "high-resistance" created slower times https://www.researchgate.net/publication/348770761_Placebo_and_Nocebo_in_Sports_Potential_Effects_of_Hypothetical_Differences_in_Roll_Resistance_on_Roller_Ski_Performance

I'm not saying lighter ski weight isn't at all beneficial. I just think it's a little overblown by some how much the effect is. Improving fitness, more efficient skin technique, faster transitions are likely to offer greater returns. Unless you are skimo racing how much does speed even matter though? For most of us touring is quite a fun leisurely affair with plenty of stops to enjoy the view, eat snacks etc. Once you are out for the day the differences become pretty negligible, travelling uphill 25% slower (I'm not suggesting equipment can save 25%!) turns a 4 hour day to a 5 hour day which doesn't seem to change much in the grand scheme of things.


It’s not a Placebo effect. I read your study says that at 12% the extra effort is significant. The skin track is around 30% and I can tell you it makes a big difference dragging an extra 2kg up every step.

If there are good snow conditions I’ll take wider skis but I’m usually touring because it hasn’t snowed for a while in which case the downhill isn’t really the point
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BobinCH wrote:

And IME it’s much more enjoyable touring on light gear than lugging up a heavy rig!

On my local circa 450m of vertical steep skin track 3.8kg vs 2kg rig 32 mins vs 27 mins. The gap would get wider on a longer stretch


That's interesting. I generally agree that going uphill feels much nicer with lighter kit, but if you extrapolate that to a 15 minute saving over a ~1200m vert tour it doesn't feel like that much return for not having the heavier set up for the descent... Do you know what the calorie difference was? Can imagine that the effort/energy output savings would be more significant than the difference in speed uphill...
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clarky999 wrote:
BobinCH wrote:

And IME it’s much more enjoyable touring on light gear than lugging up a heavy rig!

On my local circa 450m of vertical steep skin track 3.8kg vs 2kg rig 32 mins vs 27 mins. The gap would get wider on a longer stretch


That's interesting. I generally agree that going uphill feels much nicer with lighter kit, but if you extrapolate that to a 15 minute saving over a ~1200m vert tour it doesn't feel like that much return for not having the heavier set up for the descent... Do you know what the calorie difference was? Can imagine that the effort/energy output savings would be more significant than the difference in speed uphill...


That’s going pretty much full gas. At a slower speed and on a longer tour the difference will grow. The difference on a 1500m Rosablanche tour is a long slog to the top, particularly above 3000m versus a much more enjoyable saunter on the ultralight gig. And the ski down if the snow is ok is still fun on the matchsticks. Deathcrust not so much but I quite enjoy the challenge of suicide skiing Skullie
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And not unreasonable cost for skimo race quality gear
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BobinCH wrote:
Are you saying this isn’t the most fun you can have on skis?

http://youtube.com/v/XeBrGSYJ3xw

For some of those watching it might be, for most of us it's rather painful... for skier, I go with painful Wink
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primoz wrote:
BobinCH wrote:
Are you saying this isn’t the most fun you can have on skis?

http://youtube.com/v/XeBrGSYJ3xw

For some of those watching it might be, for most of us it's rather painful... for skier, I go with painful Wink


That was a joke old boy… They’re not too bad in half decent snow!

http://youtube.com/v/PrSc3QNCR2A
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BobinCH wrote:
boarder2020 wrote:
Quote:

On my local circa 450m of vertical steep skin track 3.8kg vs 2kg rig 32 mins vs 27 mins. The gap would get wider on a longer stretch


Interestingly the study I mentioned above found that although biological measures were no different with the heavier ski, rate of perceived exertion increased which they suggested could lead to reduced effort. There is also a huge placebo factor involved, people's performance decreases when they think they are inferior equipment. This study on roller ski resistance is a good example - found that simply marking the exact same roller ski as "high-resistance" created slower times https://www.researchgate.net/publication/348770761_Placebo_and_Nocebo_in_Sports_Potential_Effects_of_Hypothetical_Differences_in_Roll_Resistance_on_Roller_Ski_Performance

I'm not saying lighter ski weight isn't at all beneficial. I just think it's a little overblown by some how much the effect is. Improving fitness, more efficient skin technique, faster transitions are likely to offer greater returns. Unless you are skimo racing how much does speed even matter though? For most of us touring is quite a fun leisurely affair with plenty of stops to enjoy the view, eat snacks etc. Once you are out for the day the differences become pretty negligible, travelling uphill 25% slower (I'm not suggesting equipment can save 25%!) turns a 4 hour day to a 5 hour day which doesn't seem to change much in the grand scheme of things.


It’s not a Placebo effect. I read your study says that at 12% the extra effort is significant. The skin track is around 30% and I can tell you it makes a big difference dragging an extra 2kg up every step.

If there are good snow conditions I’ll take wider skis but I’m usually touring because it hasn’t snowed for a while in which case the downhill isn’t really the point


The thing is you can't possibly know if some of it is a placebo effect. The placebo effect is a real thing and can accuse some surprisingly large effects which is why controlled scientific studies blind participants. "It's definitely not a placebo effect" is ironically what someone that just experienced a placebo effect would think, if they thought it was a placebo it wouldn't work! In this case it's probably a combination, exactly how much of each is a good question.

The study says RPE is elevated, but all the biological markers are not. Blood lactate is a much better marker of effort. Theoretically if blood lactate is not significantly elevated in the heavy set up the participants should be able to produce an equivalent performance. We actually see the same thing when people are moderately dehydrated - rpe goes up but performance stays the same. The trouble with rpe is how subjective it is, we can all say if something was easy or hard, but placing it on a 20 point scale is really difficult, especially when exercising pretty hard, mask on, people taking blood samples etc. I've actually experienced this myself - continuous run treadmill test where the experimenter has asked me to give rpe and I've gave a number lower than the last measurement even though I was clearly more tired, he reminded me what number I said the time before and asked if this really felt easier which caused me to correct my number to something higher than before.

If your skin track is 30 degrees no wonder it's tiring! Optimum skin track is much lower gradient. It's an interesting point though, perhaps the further you get from optimum skin track angle the more noticeable set up weight becomes.
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boarder2020 wrote:
BobinCH wrote:
boarder2020 wrote:
Quote:

On my local circa 450m of vertical steep skin track 3.8kg vs 2kg rig 32 mins vs 27 mins. The gap would get wider on a longer stretch


Interestingly the study I mentioned above found that although biological measures were no different with the heavier ski, rate of perceived exertion increased which they suggested could lead to reduced effort. There is also a huge placebo factor involved, people's performance decreases when they think they are inferior equipment. This study on roller ski resistance is a good example - found that simply marking the exact same roller ski as "high-resistance" created slower times https://www.researchgate.net/publication/348770761_Placebo_and_Nocebo_in_Sports_Potential_Effects_of_Hypothetical_Differences_in_Roll_Resistance_on_Roller_Ski_Performance

I'm not saying lighter ski weight isn't at all beneficial. I just think it's a little overblown by some how much the effect is. Improving fitness, more efficient skin technique, faster transitions are likely to offer greater returns. Unless you are skimo racing how much does speed even matter though? For most of us touring is quite a fun leisurely affair with plenty of stops to enjoy the view, eat snacks etc. Once you are out for the day the differences become pretty negligible, travelling uphill 25% slower (I'm not suggesting equipment can save 25%!) turns a 4 hour day to a 5 hour day which doesn't seem to change much in the grand scheme of things.


It’s not a Placebo effect. I read your study says that at 12% the extra effort is significant. The skin track is around 30% and I can tell you it makes a big difference dragging an extra 2kg up every step.

If there are good snow conditions I’ll take wider skis but I’m usually touring because it hasn’t snowed for a while in which case the downhill isn’t really the point


The thing is you can't possibly know if some of it is a placebo effect. The placebo effect is a real thing and can accuse some surprisingly large effects which is why controlled scientific studies blind participants. "It's definitely not a placebo effect" is ironically what someone that just experienced a placebo effect would think, if they thought it was a placebo it wouldn't work! In this case it's probably a combination, exactly how much of each is a good question.


So you’re saying the reason I go slower on a heavier rig at the same HR is because knowing the rig is heavier I go slower.

I’m saying it’s because the heavier rig takes more effort to drag up the hill. I’ve done that lap so many times on different equipment and starting at faster and slower pace so know well what pace/HR I can sustain versus when I go out too fast and pay for it at the end or dont go out fast enough and can’t make it up at the end. Unless you’re saying the placebo effect also increases my HR?

If it was not the case that weight carries a penalty why do endurance athletes seek lighter equipment / lose weight etc?
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One thing that is not to be missed, and is normally missed, is that in most cases heavier combo is also wider then lighter. And in my mind, more then weight difference between my 86mm, 94mm and 106mm combo, main difference in slower skinning speed comes from quite a bit bigger area of skins touching snow. Wider (and longer) skins make it much slower then reasonably small weight penalty. At least in my mind, but no I have absolutely no scientific data to support that. But being in xc skiing World cup for good part of my life, taught me something about feeling glide under my feet, and glide difference between each setup (all with same skin model, just different size) is very noticeable for me.
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boarder2020 wrote:
If your skin track is 30 degrees no wonder it's tiring! Optimum skin track is much lower gradient. It's an interesting point though, perhaps the further you get from optimum skin track angle the more noticeable set up weight becomes.


He said 30%, which is about 17 degrees, which seems quite reasonable to me.

The optimum track, in other words the one with the lowest mean vertical energy cost, is the steepest track a skier can climb without exhausting himself (typically around 90% of max HR for the track Bob Inch mentions, 80% of MMHR for something like the PdG). That will vary for each individual of course.
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Having derailed this thread, may I derail it further and ask whether it’s efficient to train in 30-40 min intense efforts like this which is the majority of my ski touring / biking efforts as it seems like best use of time - approx 2-3 times per week. Occasional longer ones at weekends but usually still at the highest intensity I can manage.
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primoz wrote:
One thing that is not to be missed, and is normally missed, is that in most cases heavier combo is also wider then lighter. And in my mind, more then weight difference between my 86mm, 94mm and 106mm combo, main difference in slower skinning speed comes from quite a bit bigger area of skins touching snow.


That’s a good point: increased friction/drag definitely does play a part. Also takes more focus/energy to maintain grip sidehilling (and kick turning) on harder snow on wide skis. But again maybe this plays out more in effort/calorie expenditure than time taken..?
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@BobinCH, I never said lighter isn't easier. I simply don't think the effects of let's say 500g on each foot are as much as some would believe, to the point of being pretty negligible. Elite athletes want the lightest because they are racing and every second matters. Whereas, as I said before for most of us if we go 10% faster or slower it makes little difference to our day in the grand scheme of things and fitness/technique/slow transitions etc. probably cost us much more time. But if you want to try and get marginal gains through equipment might as well get the lycra ski suit snowHead

HR is not the best metric because it's so effected by so many other variables. As soon as you think a ski is lighter or heavier (even if it's not the case) you risk effects of placebo/nocebo. Which as I've said before can be surprisingly large - 1-3% is not uncommon). The study where they simply labelled the same roller ski "high resistance" and saw times get significantly worse over just a 45m test is a great example. There is a reason why studies are expected to include a placebo control group, because it's absolutely necessary if you want to be sure the effect is due to the intervention and not simply a placebo.

Even if you set up a perfect experiment with two identical sets of skis you couldn't tell apart visually and in doing so reduced the possibility of placebo effect your results still wouldn't be convincing. Because as a sample of 1 person there is too much variability - maybe you slept bad before one of the trials, maybe you weighed a little more/less, maybe the weather was a little more optimal 1 day etc. This is why you need large sample sizes to remove some of this variability.

This isn't a knock on you, it's just the reality. For one person to accurately establish how much better/worse a piece of equipment is on their own is pretty much impossible. There's a reason why pro cyclists need to use wind tunnels.

But a better question is why should you care? If I could find a placebo that improved my performance I'd use it everyday.

Quote:

whether it’s efficient to train in 30-40 min intense efforts like this which is the majority of my ski touring / biking efforts as it seems like best use of time - approx 2-3 times per week.


The problem with 30-40mins intense is that you are kind of between zones. You are not hitting high enough intensity to really target vo2 max improvements and you are going too hard to target zone 2 aerobic adaptations.

A better use of time is probably more high intensity interval style training. The classic vo2 intervals would be 4mins hard then 3-4mins recovery - repeat 4-6 times. Some research is now suggesting an even better interval structure is 30secs hard then 15secs easy * 13 reps, then 3 mins recovery and repeat once more. (I certainly find these "micro intervals" spike my HR more than the classic 4mins, and it's suggested that time above 90% max HR may be optimal stressor to elicit vo2 max adaptations - quite a lot of faff though). You really only need 2 of these per week though, they are physically and mentally pretty tough. Trying to do 3-4 per week would probably burn you out pretty quick.

To really improve your aerobic endurance though you need lots of time at low intensity (below first lactate threshold). There are many ways to calculate this intensity but uphill athletes 1 hour HR drift test is not a bad option to get a rough idea. Pro endurance athletes are doing 80-95% of their training at this intensity.
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boarder2020 wrote:

Quote:

whether it’s efficient to train in 30-40 min intense efforts like this which is the majority of my ski touring / biking efforts as it seems like best use of time - approx 2-3 times per week.


The problem with 30-40mins intense is that you are kind of between zones. You are not hitting high enough intensity to really target vo2 max improvements and you are going too hard to target zone 2 aerobic adaptations.

A better use of time is probably more high intensity interval style training. The classic vo2 intervals would be 4mins hard then 3-4mins recovery - repeat 4-6 times. Some research is now suggesting an even better interval structure is 30secs hard then 15secs easy * 13 reps, then 3 mins recovery and repeat once more. (I certainly find these "micro intervals" spike my HR more than the classic 4mins, and it's suggested that time above 90% max HR may be optimal stressor to elicit vo2 max adaptations - quite a lot of faff though). You really only need 2 of these per week though, they are physically and mentally pretty tough. Trying to do 3-4 per week would probably burn you out pretty quick.

To really improve your aerobic endurance though you need lots of time at low intensity (below first lactate threshold). There are many ways to calculate this intensity but uphill athletes 1 hour HR drift test is not a bad option to get a rough idea. Pro endurance athletes are doing 80-95% of their training at this intensity.


Yep I read about the low intensity but don’t have the time/inclination to churn up hours pootling. The intervals on the other hand look interesting and are more practical.

The only pro cyclist I follow on Strava is Egan Bernal and struggle to believe he was doing these long, mountainous runs (before his accident) day after day at low intensity Shocked
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clarky999 wrote:
That’s a good point: increased friction/drag definitely does play a part. Also takes more focus/energy to maintain grip sidehilling (and kick turning) on harder snow on wide skis. But again maybe this plays out more in effort/calorie expenditure than time taken..?

Basically this is exactly same thing. It can be faster time with same effort/calorie expenditure/hear rate, or it can be same time with lower effort/calorie expenditure/hear rate. Of course if increased friction does play part, and I think it does. Time, effort, calories and heart rate are related to each other when it comes to this.
BobinCH wrote:
The only pro cyclist I follow on Strava is Egan Bernal and struggle to believe he was doing these long, mountainous runs (before his accident) day after day at low intensity

I don't follow cycling (I just ride mtb for fun), but cycling is very close to xc skiing when it comes to this (or skimo to stay on topic), as all endurance sports are very similar on the end. Intervals might be fun (they are anything but fun if you do them for real, but I still do them from time to time, as I'm weird enough to feel cool if I can kill myself with hard intervals), but thing is, 80+% of all training is done in Z2 (that's 72% - 82% of MaxHR). It's super super slow, and if not trained enough, most of people have issues keeping HR this low when running (bike is easier) or xc skiing/skimo. But that's only way to get endurance, even endurance for doing intervals proper way.
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primoz wrote:

I don't follow cycling (I just ride mtb for fun), but cycling is very close to xc skiing when it comes to this (or skimo to stay on topic), as all endurance sports are very similar on the end. Intervals might be fun (they are anything but fun if you do them for real, but I still do them from time to time, as I'm weird enough to feel cool if I can kill myself with hard intervals), but thing is, 80+% of all training is done in Z2 (that's 72% - 82% of MaxHR). It's super super slow, and if not trained enough, most of people have issues keeping HR this low when running (bike is easier) or xc skiing/skimo. But that's only way to get endurance, even endurance for doing intervals proper way.


What sort of improvement would one expect doing lots of low intensity stuff? I can manage longish (6-8 hour?) days and amateur events with reasonable performance (top 20-30%?) based on my current ski/bike training as long as I monitor HR to avoid getting overexcited and going into the red!
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Quote:

The only pro cyclist I follow on Strava is Egan Bernal and struggle to believe he was doing these long, mountainous runs (before his accident) day after day at low intensity


It's all relative isn't it. Killian Jornet talks about all the massive volume of low intensity he does (things like going on a three day run in the mountains when he just stops for a couple of hours to nap when he feels sleepy and might drop down into a village for a meal when he's hungry). But of course it might be easy low intensity to him but would probably be at 30 minute full gas pace for me.
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You use low intensity work (heartrate in Zone 2) to make your body more adept at using your fat stores to power the chemical reaction that makes muscles work. There's more of that than other the alternative stores.

So when enjoying "endurance" events you can keep going longer before you bonk.
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Mosha Marc wrote:
You use low intensity work (heartrate in Zone 2) to make your body more adept at using your fat stores to power the chemical reaction that makes muscles work. There's more of that than other the alternative stores.

So when enjoying "endurance" events you can keep going longer before you bonk.


Sounds like why while I’m getting faster I’m also getting fatter Very Happy
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Mosha Marc wrote:


So when enjoying "endurance" events you can keep going longer before you bonk.


surely you'd just eat in the endurance events?

I've ridden sportifs over over 200k just on 30k training sessions like BobInch has been doing and as long as I eat regularly all is fine. Is it even possible to convert fat to energy at the rates needed for a sports event?

I'm not saying that specific training isn't a good idea if you have the time and inclination.

Regarding skimo I've crossed Sevrine Pont-Combe in the Jura doing short intervals on touring skis (as Boarder suggests) although generally on flatter terrain when I've seen her do this. I suspect she is doing both high intensity work plus working on technique with those intervals (high cadence, stride etc). She'll also do short hill repeats practicing transitions.
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Quote:

What sort of improvement would one expect doing lots of low intensity stuff? I can manage longish (6-8 hour?) days and amateur events with reasonable performance (top 20-30%?) based on my current ski/bike training as long as I monitor HR to avoid getting overexcited and going into the red!


Impossible to give any realistic numbers as far too many variables in play.

There are a number of advantages of low intensity:

1. It seems like the optimal intensity to promote specific physiological adaptations key to improved exercise performance. Perhaps most important one being increased number of mitochondria in muscles. More mitochondria mean better lactate processing so pushes up your red line and also helps you breakdown lactate quicker (lactate can actually be used as an energy source).

2. Incredibly quick recovery. At a simplistic level we see hours training correlates with marathon performance in recreational athletes. Low intensity means we can string together back to back training sessions of long durations. It also means we are fresh enough to hit high intensity sessions properly. (Most people naturally fall into some middle/zone 3/"comfortably hard" pace where they are missing the benefits of low intensity and on top of that too fatigued to really perform high intensity.)

At the elite level there is little doubt majority of athletes are doing most training at low intensity. The question is does that translate to a recreational athlete not doing anywhere close to as many hours. While there is growing evidence it does, it's certainly not settled in the science yet.

Quote:

The only pro cyclist I follow on Strava is Egan Bernal and struggle to believe he was doing these long, mountainous runs (before his accident) day after day at low intensity


Firstly as @jedster, points out intensity is relative. Kipchoge marathon pace is sub 3min/km so for him 4min pace is easy. I'd suggest by the fact that bernal is a. training for 5+ hours, and b. Doing it on back to back days the intensity is relatively comfortable for him in those rides. Lastly, elite athletes training is periodized, meaning you really have to look over a whole year to see the trends. There will be times in the build up to a big race athletes are doing a lot more intensity to peak,whereas in the off-season they might do close to zero. Strava just provides a snapshot (and often what the athlete wants to show!).

Quote:

You use low intensity work (heartrate in Zone 2) to make your body more adept at using your fat stores to power the chemical reaction that makes muscles work. There's more of that than other the alternative stores.


There is some truth in this but it's misunderstood a little (and perhaps falsely represented by the "fat-adaption" proponents). The logic is perfect - we have limited carb supplies and huge fat supplies, if you could train your body to use more fat and spare the glycogen you could eliminate bonking and theoretically keep going for much longer. This idea was then supported by the finding that elite athletes tend to use a much higher % of fat to carbs for energy during low intensity exercise.

However, when researchers started manipulating people's substrate utilisation percentages (through diet and training) they found increasing fat oxidation didn't lead to improve performance. High fat oxidation in elite athletes is almost certainly a biproduct of training and being able to get more oxygen to the muscle and having greater mitochondria numbers to use it. I.e. train a lot and performance and fat oxidation will go up, but increasing fat oxidation alone (e.g. through diet) won't increase performance.

The other issue is not matter how good you get at oxidating fat for energy, there is a crossover point reached as intensity increases where fat oxidation will begin to drop and glycogen will become the primary source of energy. A ball park number for this crossover is 65% of vo2 max.

There is so much research about the benefits of fueling with carbs pre and during exercise you are leaving huge potential gains on the table if not fueling during training (at least longer sessions). As @davidof, says if you just eat during the exercise you will be fine.
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BobinCH wrote:
primoz wrote:

I don't follow cycling (I just ride mtb for fun), but cycling is very close to xc skiing when it comes to this (or skimo to stay on topic), as all endurance sports are very similar on the end. Intervals might be fun (they are anything but fun if you do them for real, but I still do them from time to time, as I'm weird enough to feel cool if I can kill myself with hard intervals), but thing is, 80+% of all training is done in Z2 (that's 72% - 82% of MaxHR). It's super super slow, and if not trained enough, most of people have issues keeping HR this low when running (bike is easier) or xc skiing/skimo. But that's only way to get endurance, even endurance for doing intervals proper way.


What sort of improvement would one expect doing lots of low intensity stuff? I can manage longish (6-8 hour?) days and amateur events with reasonable performance (top 20-30%?) based on my current ski/bike training as long as I monitor HR to avoid getting overexcited and going into the red!

Intervals have their place in training, but we are not talking about high performance sport here, but simple ski touring. Even if it's short (30-60min) and "fast", it's way below any threshold that interval training would (much/any) bring benefits to it. Low intensity training builds your endurance and literally makes you go faster at same HR. And that's what you really need. Interval trainings (there's actually whole lot of different intervals and intervals are not only max effort short intervals. You have plenty of Z3 or Z4 intervals) are there to make your body go faster at high speed, and in normal skimo you definitely don't need that (skimo racing is different thing, and even if it's joke of sport, it would still fit into "high performance" sport).
So for normal skiers, low intensity training would bring much more benefits then interval trainings. First, because volume is bigger (there's no way you will do 1h of intervals), and second because results that low intensity training brings, fit better to this what recreational skimo needs.
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boarder2020 wrote:
pam w wrote:
Whatever the calculation of benefits of cutting weight of skis and boots versus items in a backpack, what about the benefits of taking weight off tubby stomachs and chubby shoulders?


That's takes a bit of work. People would rather spend silly money on some fancy ultralight gear snowHead

Quote:

but I'm sceptical that the 5x factor is accurate.


Yep it's way overblown, probably by manufacturers trying to sell lighter gear. There is actually a paper looking at cross country skiing that found no significant differences in blood lactate, heart rate, or work rate at either 5 or 12 degree climbing when adding 1.5kg weight to the ski. https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0197592


Dynafit used to quote 3x, has it really gone up to 5x ?

The study is interesting. It would have been more interesting if they'd looked at classic cross country skiing or even ski touring. The terrain in the study is also not that steep compared to ski touring where you may climb up to around 30% angles.

One of the reasons weight is less important in their study is that there are less acceleration forces in skate skiing, this is not the case in classic or ski touring where the foot comes to a complete stop twice per cycle.

The study also notes that the highly trained, elite skiers do not tend to change their movement patterns when weight is added. I would also say they lift there skis less than amateur skiers, we'll come back to this.

There were effects on a 12% gradient, just not on the 5% gradient, which was what was unexpected. It is the same with cycling - heavier wheels on the flat don't have an effect once the wheel is up to cruising speed and may even provide a flywheel effect.



I would suggest this is all good for expert skiers. If you look at skimo competitors the technique is very similar to classic skiing. The ankle doesn't open up, the foot is not pushed far forward with the movement to the rear. Glide is longer and cycle rates higher than recreational ski tourers. Elbows are also at right angles during the power phase, using the strong shoulder muscles. Skis slide across the snow so the foot isn't being lifted much which is probably why weight is less significant.

Improving technique would pay dividends. Gliding skis across the snow is the first thing to focus on - I even see guides stomping around the place rather than gracefully gliding their skis (yes even David Meyer of the FreeFlow Floss ski touring video, could work on this).
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@davidof, skimo is sort of similar to classic xc skiing, but it stops at "sort of" Smile With classic xc skiing, skis are lifted much higher on end of stride, and with those with proper technique (elite racers) they get lifted higher then with those recreational skiers. Sprints are even further from this, when uphill skiing is much more running then anything else nowadays. While I still agree that additional weight of skis doesn't bring much of penalty in xc skiing, it still brings advantage, especially when everything else is on limit, and you are searching for that extra second in 15, 30 or 50km race. There 50g might make difference, it's small but can be enough to win or lose gold.
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primoz wrote:
@davidof, skimo is sort of similar to classic xc skiing, but it stops at "sort of" Smile With classic xc skiing, skis are lifted much higher on end of stride, and with those with proper technique (elite racers) they get lifted higher then with those recreational skiers.


On the flat maybe but not quite so much climbing (outside of klaebo sprinting) where the reps are faster and the leg doesn't extend as much. And we are talking about climbing and longer events. But as you say weight must play more of a role if you are lifting your feet more.

Quote:
Sprints are even further from this, when uphill skiing is much more running then anything else nowadays.


It is a different stride though. A runner steps much further forward with his legs, forming a triangle with the ankle open even when running up slopes. A cross country skier, even when sprinting, is more like a skimo racer with a more closed ankle. The tail lift in both cases is a consequence of the extension and the boot binding mechanics.



but my point was the interesting study posted above and how applicable the findings are to weight when ski touring

1. the lack of difference was noted on low (5%) angled terrain, not the kind of thing ski tourers are climbing, 12% terrain still saw a weight penalty as gravity becomes more dominant.
2. the study looked at skate skiing and the mechanics are different compared to classic skiing, ski touring and running. The study noted this wrt to acceleration forces being different.

BobInch posted an anecdotal where he noted a 16% penalty for around 2kg of extra weight. One would expect the penalty to be more like 3% so that corresponds to the 5x figure quoted above. But I agree, it seems like a lot.

At the end of the day it is physics

energy required to lift a object

1. E=mgh

energy required to accelerate a object

2. Ex,y=12(my2−mx2)=m2(y−x)(y+x)

energy required to overcome friction

3. E = μk(mgcos(θ))d


And to finish, some research on ski touring wrt to equipment weight

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/23972979_The_energy_cost_of_ski_mountaineering_Effects_of_speed_and_ankle_loading
https://outdooractivities.eu/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/JOA_201301_article_1.pdf
https://ijrep.org/download/2405/

The first study says that weight on the feet is less of a factor when ski touring compared to running as the skis are not lifted as far, they claim a 3% cost for 1kg of extra ankle weight. So I think 1kg on the skis is worth more like 2kg in the backpack all other things being equal.

The second study shows even on flat terrain there is a penalty in terms of effort (note the same skin was used in all the tests). In the second report they noted that binding design was a factor (pivot point) in energy costs and ski design (skimo skis are cambered and present less sliding friction compared to a rockered ski)
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