Another day, another L4. Dentist appointment in the morning, so no chance to work out then. By 4:30 in the afternoon, things were simmering down in the office, and I snuck off to the gym.
Today was a 60′ L4 on slides. I’m just messing around with different stroke sequences. Today it was:
4’@ 18 / 3’@ 19 / 2′ @ 20 / 2’@21 / 2’@20 / 3’@19 / 4’@ 18
Basically rowing over a big hill. Then I did it again. For the third one, I just did 2 repeats of 4/3/2/1, but I really amped up the power for the last 2 minutes while trying to hold the stroke rate. This is kind of useful on slides because you need to maintain good stroke mechanics even when you are pulling really hard. You need to focus on a nice smooth recovery or else the erg gets all kinds of upset with you.
As usual for me right now, the HR was a bit too high. I’m not overly concerned for a number of reasons. I’d appreciate feedback on this because my understanding of this stuff is far from complete.
At very low intensities, essentially all the energy comes from the metabolism of fat. This form of metabolism does not generate any pyruvate, which ends up being lactate. As intensity increases, this form of metabolism cannot supply enough energy and carbohydrates begin to be used. This metabolic pathway generates lactate. This is illustrated as the “crossover concept”, introduced in the mid 90’s in a paper by Brooks and Mercier
Lactate is a useful form of energy which is also metabolized in exercise, so at a certain intensity, the production of lactate is balanced with the consumption of lactate. This results in a stable lactate level that is used to determine the appropriate intensity for maximally effective endurance training. The level can vary by athlete and fitness state, but is usually between 1.5mmol/l and 2.5mmol/l of lactate. Exercising above this intensity leads to the incremental accumulation of lactate in the muscles and eventually to exhaustion. Way above the limit rapidly increases lactate levels (like a sprint) , a little above the limit results in a slow climb (like a 60′ time trial)
The fundamental theory behind polarized training is that the different energy pathways can be developed independently. That you increase the ability to metabolize fat by exercising at levels that lean most heavily on that energy system. That exercising at a intensity where you are at that lactate stasis level will eventually lead to improvement in the steady state power required to be at stasis. Of course, to succeed in competition, you also need to develop your ability to tolerate high lactate levels, the maximum amount of power you can product, and the neuromuscular coordination to perform at high output levels. That is why you do the hard part of polarized training.
So, why not just go hard all the time? Three reasons. First, it does nothing to help develop your ability to metabolize fat. Two, it does nothing to develop your ability to metabolize lactate. Third, it leaves you too depleted to go really hard when you are working on lactate tolerance and power.
So what’s up with how I’m training right now. I’ve put myself into a holding pattern. I have no boat, and I am rowing on the water only about once a week. My job is requiring a lot of travel and a lot more hours than it was before so my ability to maintain a structured training plan is compromised, as is total amount of time I can devote to training. So, I am focusing on trying to maintain my base aerobic fitness and push a little bit harder than I normally would because I am not putting a lot of energy into high impact sessions.
I am conflicted about this. I think I would probably be better off if I turned the intensity down on these sessions and made a point of including one sprinty session a week, and I might do that, but for some reason that really isn’t making feel all that happy. My highest priority is doing whatever I need to do to get my ass onto the erg as often as I can and less about what I do once I am there.
Anyway, back to the workout. Basically the same deal as the usual.
Now it’s Saturday and I’m trying to figure out when to squeeze in a workout.