Q&A on Nordic Skiing, Recovery, and Mixing Training Modalities, with Adam St. Pierre

Physiologist and coach Adam St. Pierre helps us explore questions on Nordic ski training, signs of recovery, and mixing various training modalities.

Adam St. Pierre preparing skis

Adam St. Pierre, the head coach of the Nordic ski team at Montana St. University, and a former physiologist and jack-of-all-trades at the Boulder Center for Sports Medicine, joins Fast Talk to discuss nordic skiing and how it fits into endurance training, oxygen debt versus deficit, muscle recovery, and mixing running and cycling training modalities effectively.

Nordic ski training

This first question comes from Ashley Masen in California:

“Since cross country skiing is full-body and pushes higher stroke volume than cycling can, could there be a really beneficial way to do VO2max training in the early season, then focus on extending threshold and adding specificity on the bike as you get closer to your race?”

Oxygen debt versus deficit

This question comes from Rodney Simpson in North Carolina. He writes:

“What is your explanation of oxygen debt and oxygen deficit? Is the latency heart rate at the beginning of applying power for a zone 3 interval due to O2 debt or O2 deficit? Also, the duration to return to pre zone 3 interval heart rate due to fitness or fatigue?”

Muscle recovery

This question comes from Kjeld Bontenbal in the Netherlands. He writes:

“Where resting HR and HRV seem to be proper guidelines for cardiovascular recovery, how about muscle recovery?

As a speed skater I often find my rest HR and HRV ‘at rest’, while my legs still feel sore. The soreness translates itself into lower power output in both the aerobic and anaerobic area. It makes me wonder:

What is a good measure to determine the recovery state of the muscles? When the legs feel sore, should I give them more rest for optimal super-compensation?”

Mixing training modalities

This question comes from James Cooper in Alameda, California. In response to episode 185 of Fast Talk, in which we discussed different training methods across different endurance sports with Dr. Stephen Seiler, he asks:

“I have a question about mixing two sports in a single workout. As it was discussed in the episode, running frequently beyond 90 minutes or so will start to accumulate considerable stress on the joints/muscles, which in part explains why runners don’t do 3-4 hour long, slow runs. I’m curious, though, if doing something like a 90-minute easy Z1 (in a three-zone model) ride on the trainer to jump start some muscle fatigue and then doing a 60-minute Z1 run would be of any benefit?

Conversely would a 60-minute run prior to a 90-minute Z1 ride allow a cyclist to get some of the gains normally seen on longer 4-hour-plus LSD rides? As a father of three young children, these 4-hour endurance sessions are really not in the cards.”


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