Scott Semple

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    Scott Semple on · in reply to: Combining runs #7838

    One additional thought as well: the more you sleep, the more you can train.

    Life constraints need to be respected–work, family, etc–but it’s important to acknowledge that sleep is a hugely important factor. If you find that early mornings are wearing you down, don’t grind through. It’ll end up biting you in the long run.

    As Scott J. said, long runs are better, so it sounds like this could be win-win for you. You could do both longer runs and longer sleeps, just on different days.

    Scott Semple on · in reply to: Training Volume in Transition Phase #7795

    Hi Paul,

    Personally, I record it all, but for a couple of different reasons.

    The most important thing for me is to keep an eye on fatigue. I use Training Peaks as my log, so that makes it easier, because their metrics quantify fatigue. It’s not three-decimal-place accurate, but it’s better than what I would do on my own.

    The second reason I track everything is to motivate me to do more of it. I’m a big believer in “what gets measured gets managed”. If I don’t track something, usually I stop paying attention to it.

    In that spirit, I’ve also started tracking recovery activities that have no direct fitness impact. Although I don’t count these as training hours, I know I’ll do more of them if I can see recovery volume rising.

    I hope that helps.

    Scott S.

    Scott Semple on · in reply to: Something bugging me about the Alpine Combine box step #7794

    Ack. I let my geekery get away from me yesterday. One too many coffees.

    * I should have reviewed the TftNA box step test. If you want your results to be comparable to the prescription from the book, use that test. With a box height of 75% of shin height results should be comparable for all participants.

    * I’m not sure what I was thinking when I equated a 4-inch step with a 25% grade. That depends on the length of the tread. A 16″ tread with a 4″ riser would make for a 25% grade, but where are there 16″ treads? A 12″ tread with a 3″ riser would do the same.

    * Anyway, the gist is the same. Steeper is not always better. Outside, 14-16 degrees (25-30%) seems to be the sweet spot for uphill efficiency. (And it’s very unlike the slower smart-like-tractor approach that I used in my youth: going straight uphill.)

    Scott Semple on · in reply to: Something bugging me about the Alpine Combine box step #7778

    Hey Thrusthamster,

    Great question. In my opinion, yes, for a couple reasons:

    # First, I agree that going up and down is going to take longer.

    # Second, any recommendation for a timed ascent–in meters per hour, etc–should be qualified by the angle of the terrain. The most efficient angle for trained athletes seems to be within 14-16 degrees (25-30%). In contrast, a typical staircase is usually 32 degrees (62%). Boxes in gyms are even “steeper”.

    Your rate of ascent for box stepping will depend on the height of the box. If it’s a typical box from a gym, it’s almost certainly going to be steeper than what’s most efficient.

    For example, to achieve an angle of 14 degrees (25%), your step need be only 4″ high… If you climb 3,000 4-inch steps, you’ll have your 1,000′ at 25% (1,000′ ~=~ 300m). You can imagine how much faster your cadence would be on a 4″ step than on a much larger step or box. For example, the sustainable cadence on a 4″ step is more than three times that of a 12″ step, thus making the vertical ascent speed faster overall.

    # Personally, I would use a treadmill for this test to make it predictable and repeatable. Unfortunately, most treadmills only go to 15%. But if you can find a gym with a Woodway 4Front or a NordicTrack Incline Trainer, you should be all set. The 4Front goes to 25%, and the Incline Trainer goes even steeper.

    Most importantly, regardless of the angle, be consistent between tests and, because of the variables, ignore the results of other people. Person to person, results are unlikely to be comparable unless done on the same “terrain”, whether that’s outside, on a box, or on a treadmill.

    I hope that helps.

    Scott S.


    Hey Swayne,

    When it’s that close, it’ll depend on the fatigue that Zone 2 creates. Like most things, “90% of AnT” is a rule of thumb that you’ll need to adjust as required.

    When I first started doing a lot of dedicated base building, Zone 2 felt pretty comfortable. After a few seasons, my heart rate didn’t change much, but the fatigue from Zone 2 was greater than it used to be. I had to back off then and do more Zone 1 in its place.

    So if, after a workout, you feel like, “I can’t do much more of this”, then it’s probably time to do more easier volume.

    I hope that makes sense.

    Scott S.

    Scott Semple on · in reply to: GTPS – lateral hip pain #7722

    Hi Andy,

    I don’t have any experience with your injury specifically, but I’ve had plenty of downtime from injuries and illness.

    The best thing that I can suggest is to think of your recovery as your current training. Postpone any fitness training until you can do it pain-free. And even then, be cautious.

    Think of your physio and rehab as your current training regimen. You’ll want to do it regularly and thoroughly so that you can later build fitness on top of a solid foundation.

    Good luck,
    Scott S.


    Hey Swayne,

    It sounds like you’re right on the money with your current volume and intensity.

    Here are a few thoughts:

    * Don’t worry about under-doing it. It’s far less costly than over-doing it.

    * It’s normal for HR to be a lot lower on descents. Don’t worry about trying to get the same heart rate as ascents. To do so would likely put too much muscular strain on your quads, which can take a long time to recover from because of the different type of loading (eccentric versus concentric).

    * If you’ve had a metabolic test done, you can ignore the zone prescriptions in the book. Use the zones from your test.

    * If the top of your Zone 2 is less than 90% of the bottom of Zone 4, then you can do most of your training in Zone 2. If you’re at 90% or higher, then you’ll want to mix in a lot of Zone 1. (To calculate the percentage, divide the high-limit bpm of Zone 2 by the low-limit bpm of Zone 4 and multiply by 100.)

    * Because you said you “feel great after each hike”, I think that you can probably increase the duration or frequency of these sessions. Start with 5-10% per week for a couple weeks and see how it feels. Try and keep that “feel great after” feeling.

    I hope that helps. Let me know if you have any other questions.

    Scott S.

    Scott Semple on · in reply to: Lab Test Results and TftNA HR Zones #7640

    Hi Spencer,

    I don’t know what the contents of the Big Mountain training plan are, but based on your test results, I would be tempted to skew more of the workout mix toward your Zone 1 and Zone 2 intensities. I think that’ll give you the biggest long-term benefit.

    The description in the test recommended 80% at this intensity with 20% at higher intensities. 80% should be the bare minimum, even in well-trained athletes. 90% would be even better. Even world-class athletes train with the same distribution.

    In addition, if you’ll be going to altitude, you’ll want your AeT to be as high as possible. From what I understand, at altitude there isn’t enough oxygen available to allow for an intensity high enough to recruit fast twitch muscle fiber. So you’ll only have access to slow twitch fiber which is best trained below AeT.

    On your next test, I would recommend getting some lactate samples below 140. The typical limit for AeT in most people is around ~2 mM, rather than 2.5, which is usually considered the upper most limit for purely aerobic work. With no readings below that level, it’s hard to tell if lactate was indeed plateaued at 2.5 during your test.

    In short, I would avoid Zone 3 training until your AeT (~2 mM) is around 90% of anaerobic threshold. If AnT is at ~160, then you’ll want to get AeT up to at least ~145 before adding any threshold work.

    I hope that helps.

    Scott S.

    Scott Semple on · in reply to: How slow is too slow? #7614

    I’m just the messenger…

    One thing to consider about comparing the percentages is that Seiler quantified the breakdown using sessions. Mine is by the minute.

    So the ratios are not apples to apples. If done by the minute, then Seiler’s ratios would be closer to mine. I’m not saying they would be identical–Mosop and Kipchoge have different coaches–but Seiler’s numbers overstate the actual minutes of high intensity workload and understate the low intensity.

    Also, I’m not saying that Canova’s methods are the only way. They are just obviously very effective. As are Sang’s (Kipchoge’s coach).

    On a personal note, I tried increasing the polarization in my own training last summer by doing a lot of ridiculously-easy volume. It had a very positive impact. I’m faster overall.

    Scott Semple on · in reply to: Muscular Endurance Physiology #7561

    From what I understand, the main effect of muscular endurance work is to transfer more of the load away from the cardiovascular system and toward the locomotive muscles. Because of the lower heart rates relative to exertion, I assume that lower volumes of blood are required to do the work.

    Another example of this can be found by playing with a power meter on a bike. If you maintain a certain power output, but adjust your gearing up and down to change your cadence, you’ll find lower heart rates with lower cadences (as well as the opposite) even though the workload remains the same.

    Lance Armstrong used this idea to increase his average cadence and increase the cardiovascular load after he recovered from cancer, especially on climbs. From what I’ve read, he was heavier and more muscular before cancer.


    I call them cocktail party metrics, because they’re not relevant to performance. People love to talk about VO2 and RHR, but they don’t provide any actionable information that isn’t better provided by other metrics.

    They’re not even suggestive of athletic potential. There are world-class endurance athletes with low VO2s and athletes with high VO2s that never progress.

    For RHR in particular, I assume that changes in RHR suggest changes in stroke volume. More stroke volume is better.

    But in the context that you’ve described (with friends at altitude), why not focus on a more relevant metric? Why does RHR matter? Maybe you just take longer to acclimatize?

    In the late ’90s, a few friends went to climb the West Buttress on Denali. The usually-strongest member of the party had a hard time acclimatizing and had to be short-roped during the descent of one of the acclimatization climbs. In contrast, the other members of the party adapted to the altitude much quicker.

    After he recovered, the slower adapter was back to being the strongest. He just took him more time to acclimatize.

    Scott Semple on · in reply to: How slow is too slow? #7542

    I couldn’t resist.

    I went through the Mosop pre-Boston training schedule and converted all of the workouts to minutes-per-intensity to find out exactly how much time Mosop spent where.

    Here are the statistics:

    Easy 49-68% 100h 02m 57%
    Moderate 68-78% 36h 00m 21%
    Sub-AeT 79-100% 33h 21m 19%
    Super-AeT 100+% 5h 43m 3%
    TOTAL 175h 05m

    In three and a half months leading up to a marathon PR of 2:03, Mosop only trained above AeT for less than six hours. The six hours were spread over nine workouts.

    Recovery intervals during hard workouts were assigned to their respective zones of intensity. So only the actual high-end work was assigned to the super-AeT zone, not the entire workout.

    I find this amazing for a couple reasons: First, only 3% of his volume was super-AeT; 97% was below AeT. Second, the vast majority of his volume (78%) was spent on easy and moderate training.

    To be fair, I suspect that Mosop’s AeT and AnT are very close together, perhaps only a 30″/km difference. That being the case, the stress for him to train in the sub-AeT zone would be much higher than it would be for the rest of us mortals.

    Scott Semple on · in reply to: Recovery HR zone as a training? #7521

    Hi Daniel,

    Good question. Recovery activities definitely count as training time. Especially with the long durations that you’re talking about, the time should be included in your training log.

    I would recommend trying to figure out how much of your alpine days are actually spent moving (versus breaks, belaying, etc) and then apply a multiple to the moving time as you’ve suggested.

    Another option is to use something like Training Peaks which accounts for intensity in its training log calculations (although you’d still need to adjust for idle time).

    I hope that helps.

    Scott S.

    Scott Semple on · in reply to: How slow is too slow? #7504

    Here’s the page with Mosop’s training schedule before Boston 2011:

    If you scroll down and click on the “relative paces” link, you’ll see his training with paces converted relative to race pace. Since the event was over two hours, I think it’s safe to assume that, although blistering fast, race pace for Mosop is pretty darn close to AeT (~2 mM).

    If you look at the pace descriptions at the top of the “relative paces” page, Easy is 49-68% of AeT and Moderate is 68-78% of AeT.

    If you find your AeT and then run those percentages of the pace (either by speed or HR), you’ll find that they are super easy paces.

    Looking at Mosop’s calendar, you can see that most of his hours are in the Easy and Moderate category.

    Scott Semple on · in reply to: How slow is too slow? #7503

    For race-specific training, yes, that’s true.

    But even Canova’s athletes put in most of their time in the easy range to support their race-specific training. There’s a log online somewhere of Moses Mosop’s training before his 2:03 marathon. 80+% of his time was in this easy zone.

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