Meet Dr. Echo Dahl Rowe
Of all the athletes I’ve ever worked with, Echo’s drive to succeed in whatever she chooses is among the very best. This need to succeed is directly reflected in her work ethic and can be seen in everything she does. Professionally, we call her Doctor. In sport, she holds the record for the fastest Everesting on “soil” (mountain bike) and her list of accomplishments is intimidating.
But like all of us she endures consistent challenges to her time, energy and focus. Those come in the form of consecutive days of long work hours (24 hours on-call and the like). You know, normal doctor stuff. And to make things more interesting her family just adopted an ultra-high energy puppy into the family.
Echo’s Leadville 100 goal has been a few years in the making. Her last attempt was in 2015 and her intention was to target a PR for the event in 2020. The whole world closed down in 2020 and her entry was deferred, which was only the next chapter in her return to Leadville. Subsequent attempts in 2021 and 2022 would be derailed by work (she literally saves lives) and injury. 2023 would be the next chance. But it’s not always that easy. Time is never on the side of an athlete attempting a PR and history is chalk full of athletes that assume they have plenty of what is our most valuable resource.
We needed a plan that Echo could see, embrace and execute. Following her self-evaluation of the previous season we built a personalized action plan for her and it was off to the races, literally and figuratively.
Leadville: Performance Metrics and Expectations
In order to complete a PR at the Leadville Trail 100 MTB, Echo would need to complete ~4000kJ of work during 10+ hours but not more than 10:26 of racing at high elevation. It’s a daunting task but one completely attainable for Echo.
Following a successful spring campaign Echo shifted focus towards the Leadville Trail 100 MTB. The demands of setting her new PR would be the primary driver of her training efforts beginning in mid-May. We based her training plan upon mountain bike efforts and how many efforts we should expect to be able to repeat over the course of a 10 hour day. We would start short and explosive and work towards VO2 Max efforts. Concurrently, we would thread in building workloads of increasing FTP and near FTP work at a volume needed for the Leadville Trail 100 MTB. Finally, we’d also work towards improving nutrition and improving durability on long rides.
Just in case there weren’t enough variables to consider, we’d need to weave this training amongst her work schedule while incorporating an environmental acclimation protocol (heat and altitude).
Echo faced the challenge head on and things were going splendidly until the monkey wrench….
Because her entry had been deferred numerous times, Echo had lost all corral placement and was now in the white corral (last). There was one chance to improve her starting position and it was 200 miles away at the Tahoe Trail 100k, in 20 days. This was getting interesting!
Fast forward and Echo did succeed in improving her start corral at Leadville Trail 100 MTB but at the cost of travel days, taper days, a few recovery days and some detrimental heat exposure.
As we approached Game Day we looked back at Echo’s training to measure the outcomes of her hard work:
- FTP improved by 8% during the Leadville build. Based on her Leadville Trail 100 MTB I think the gains are higher should she want to test at sea level.
- Time at or near FTP was elevated to 60+ minutes in a single ride.
- VO2 Max efforts had improved and her tolerance was in excess of 4x 5 minutes.
With Game Day approaching we discussed an individualized strategy for pacing. This strategy was anchored on three tenants. First, the fatigue accumulated increases exponentially with increasing elevation and output. And that fatigue will be with you until the finish line. So if Echo burns a VO2 match on the first or second climb of the day she won’t have it until next week. Yes, she can still burn that match, but there should be a reason for doing so early vs late in the day. Second is that while the top of Columbine is 50% of the distance, it’s also 60% of the kilojoule output for the day. There is an advantage of being a bit aggressive in the opening climbs even with the added early fatigue load. Finally, heart rate is a good proxy of output as you climb elevation. Use that as a valuable data point.
This is a great example of the effect of altitude:
Echo’s best 20 minute effort began at nearly 10k ft and went uphill. 179W when elevation corrected by nearly +18%!
2015 v 2023
In 2015 her time was 10:36. In 2023 Echo completed the Leadville Trail 100 MTB in 10:10.
Overall Echo smashed her previous Leadville time by more than 26 minutes! That’s an improvement of ~4%. Wow!
By the time she had reached the top of Columbine 2023 Echo had put more than 10 minutes into 2015 Echo and by the end of the day she would add 6 minutes more.
Echo completed a little over 3900kJ of work throughout the day meaning that her nutrition/ hydration schedule was spot on with our predictions. Not only that but our predictions for her i-levels time in zone was pretty darned accurate too.
To date, Echo’s best 10hr effort was 122w normalized for >10 hours at the Rift in Iceland. Elevation correction from Leadville shows 126w normalized. This sort of achievement is not possible without significant work to improve overall aerobic ability and is a testament to her preparation.
When the dust settled on the day Echo was 96th of all women (37th %) and 16th in her age group (22%). It’s safe to assume that we’re all very proud of this accomplishment.
Echo leverages her Tier 3 coaching service to make sure that she had an exceptional day when it mattered to her. Success like this helps athletes live their best lives through positive adventures and experiences.
Thanks for reading.
Adam Mills has raced at the elite level since 2002 and graduated with a Masters Degree in Exercise Physiology from the University of Kansas in 2005. His true talent comes with his ability to combine his vast experience with his knowledge of sport. He is indeed a student of science, sport, athletic performance, strategy, and tactics. He continuously educates himself by keeping up to date with current research trends and methods in sport and his clients have reaped the benefits from this work with over 25 national championships in 11 disciplines on two continents. Adam is able to incorporate these attributes on a daily basis to help his clients reach and exceed their goals whether they are a beginner or a seasoned professional. Learn more about Adam and Source Endurance here.