BLOG: Vertical K – First hand experience

I practice what I preach, like always. I love run-perf discussions, applied sports science and sports theories. Like most self coached runners and coaches, I can apply my ideas most precisely to myself.

My very first VK was on the 10th of May. I of course did many VKs and even double VKs during training in the last 12years, but mostly during long efforts of multiple mountain hours. I knew that despite the experience I have, I still enter into a somewhat new territory. Like telling a 10km road runner, that tomorrow you run 10km on a the track in spikes. He knows the motion, he knows the effort, he knows the distance. However he doesn’t know race dynamics, tactic, body-reaction to surface and many more facets. I gave respect to the discipline and did my first race with a great given effort !

KV Menton


  • Time Officiel: 1:02:36
  • AVGHR 162 MAXHR 174
  • AVG Pace: 14:10
  • DistanceGPS: 4.45km
  • D+1000m
  • Equipment: Poles / Altra King MT

Generally I felt bad during this course. Especially the very first half as we ran under the clouds and the sun was hitting hard. Also I used my trekking poles, what was not beneficial for me either. I should have calculated my effort better to adjust myself to the race start conditions. While jogged up to the official start line, the warming up was okay and the calves were okay too. No eating paid well, with the small energy bar and the 2 gels. Even that was not necessary at all, I took them just for the sake of glycemic security. It felt like that race was quiet gradual outside of a flat section in the middle, so the whole distance was quiet runnable. Poles were not necessary and I think I could have done way better without them.


KV Belvedere


  • Time Officiel: 55:57 (53:51 for the 1000m mark)
  • AVGHR 161 MAXHR 171
  • AVG Pace: 13:14
  • DistanceGPS: 4.22km
  • D+1050m
  • Equipment: Altra Superior / No Poles

A whole different race. Slept well and ate nothing outside of my plain coffee. I also forgot to take 2 gels, I had only one, what I popped 5minutes before race start. (Gel: 100% honey based organic, local french product. I don’t ever use malto or glucose fructose based gels. )
Temperatures were very correct, with no heat. Recently I just don’t feel like breaking the rules and I had a little backpack with my phone, a space blanket, 300ml water, a whistle and an ultra light rain-west. Rules, I mean there were obligatory equipment, listed in the rules. Probably together with the backpack, the extra weight carried was 600g. I don’t want to calculate the performance loss caused by each grams carried, but probably it would be between the 1 to 30sec range. In case of a shoe, that would be more significant. I will get a special VK running shoe for next year. Something ultra light ! Soon I am gonna come out with an article about shoe choices for VK as it is not necessarily easy to find the right shoe, for the right person and for the right conditions.


As the two races go, they were not really comparable in case of terrain and profile. While the first one had a steep first and last section while flattening out in the middle, the second race had a more runnable profile at the beginning and gave us like D+500m in the last 1.5km. The second race was much cooler, but finished at higher altitudes, over 1800m. There was a refreshment point in the middle during the first race, where I stopped for at least 20seconds, while no stopping happened during the second race.

I finished 9minutes down from the 1000m mark and 7minutes down in case of whole race goes. No, it did not come from fitness improvements, but only race tactics. I controlled my HR during the first 5min, holding it at 160 and then let it go. During my first race after bout 25seconds I was maxing out ! The no poles scenario is better for me as I am a runner. Every single moment I had, I ran. 2meters, 15meters, 50meters, did not care, I ran. If I could do 10 strides, I gave it a go and jogged. It is a good way to refresh to mind and muscles. Hands on knees, hunched over, keeping the HR low, then get upright, pump the elbows and do the small steps.

I will try keeping it up with the steep training and I think I can dip under 50minutes this year. In June I will have a VK, but 1week after a 63km race, so I will be light, but probably tired. Also the October race is just like 4 weeks after the TOR, so my efforts will be limited. Of course, these factors won’t hold me back at all to give it a shot !

What did I learn in essence ? Well, I am overtrained in case of endurance, what is not good, but under trained in case of speed and HIIT. My max heart rate is around 193, but during the race I had 171 ! Where is my 20beats reserve ? Well, I need to hit the track to unlock this ZONE 5 B and C, before I can apply it to vertical races. I need some so-called “See God Workouts ” ! Not a lot, but enough of them !

Shoes. I must have some lighter shoes, under 200g. The All out crush light from Merrell looks good, but an old Inov 8 F-LITE 195 or X-Talon 190 would be great too. Maybe will just get a VFF V-Trail, as it would be the most efficient in case of running and achilles tendon use.

No Poles ! If I feel really motivated, may will apply a couple of days of fasting and intermittent fasting the weeks before. I find that this detoxifying method is very beneficial for vertical races. Not only because of slight weight loss, but overall body functions, muscle tone, mind control and other factors too !


Categories: running, Training, UncategorizedTags: , , , , , , , ,

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