This Wednesday Workout it brought to you by Stefan Kuhn, 2010 Canadian Olympian and assistant men’s coach at the Alberta World Cup Academy in Canmore, Alberta. The workout: lactate clearance, which he has his athletes do in the fall three to four times before the race season. The goal: measure each individual’s ability to clear lactate, their mental toughness, physical fitness and overall speed.
“This is a fun workout and it’s super simple to do, but it really makes you have to dig deep, which is why I like to do it around this time of year,” Kuhn explains in an email. “The shape of the athletes is at high level and you can really go for a hard effort to build some lactate and try to survive through the workout the best you can.”
But don’t go crazy. Kuhn warns his athletes that they need to be mindful how hard they’re pushing from the start of the workout so that they make it to the finish.
“It’s a speed-focused intensity with an understanding you have to repeat it many times over,” he notes. “I know I loved it when I was an athlete.”
So what’s the point of so much pain? It helps you deal with lactic-acid buildup, that burning sensation one might feel in their legs or arms that causes them to slow down.
“As cross country is a lactate-tolerable sport, it is important to learn to try to flush it best you can and to race with it in your system,” Kuhn explains.
An extended and diligent warmup and cool-down are key. So let’s get to it:
The Workout: Lactate Clearance
Warmup: 30-45 minutes
15 intervals of 30 seconds on, 30 seconds off
15-minute break: easy running or skiing, keep the body moving
(Repeat first set) 15 x 30 seconds on, 30 seconds off
Lactate readings (if available. Wear a heart-rate monitor during workout if not): Kuhn measures his athletes’ lactate levels at the end of the workout because there isn’t enough time in between.
“I look at lactate clearance and you also get to see a lot by watching the athlete,” he explains. “If they have speed at the end or are they dying hard. I also watch the heart rates, which is a great way to monitor how they are doing. Do they get close to their max, and how much does it drop on the rest parts of the interval?”
Cool-down: 30 minutes to an hour