Accounting for guiding in training

  • Creator
  • #52568

    I just read in an older thread about the idea of activities like guiding, where you’re active for long periods of time but significantly below Aerobic Threshold, being fatiguing but not contributing much to training. A follow up question; any tips for accounting for that fatigue in a training plan? Because that fatigue is not coming from strenuous physical activity, is it better to push through it than fatigue from training? Or should it be treated like fatigue from training by taking recovery days until normal energy levels have returned?

  • Participant
    bbarlin10 on #52607

    I am not going to answer your question directly because I’m not qualified. However there is a bigger question here. Not sure from your post what sport you’re guiding but when I have been AT Skiing or Hiking/climbing the guides always have huge packs. If you are guiding with a big pack and still well below zone 1 then yes you are not contributing to your aerobic base. So the question is “what is important”? If you are earning a living then so be it, we all got to eat. But if at the same time you want to do a first ascent or FKT then the question is what is more important. I have read many conversations along these lines and the usual response is (paraphrased) “you have to make a choice”. There are only so many hours in a day and if you want to reach a really hard goal then you may have to stop guiding. The rest will fall out from your choice. If it were me and I was not training for a big goal, I would rest when I was tired, because after all what would it matter? Just my .02c.

    Shashi on #52632

    I am assuming you have already read this and your question is a follow-up on this discussion –

    Mountain guiding and training

    russes011 on #52684


    Combining mountain guiding (or any other type of work that requires physical labor) with a standard UA training program can be very challenging. It requires a great deal of adaptability on a daily, weekly, and seasonal basis. To do this by yourself often requires must more insight, discipline, knowledge, and time than many busy guides have. If coaching is within financial reach, this one solution. Otherwise, adaptability in your mindset and training program is the other. Standard training programs often do not apply, even in the off-season–they need to be constantly fine-tuned based on your schedule. For alpinism goals, guiding can be a boon–it can provide you with all the aerobic zone training you could wish for. Small doses of strength and ME training may be all that you need to be a top performer. If your goal is something else, like a trail race, or ski mountaineering race, then guiding can also be a good thing, but perhaps not as much due to the the usual requirement of a heavy cycle of ME training that may not be possible with such a heavy load of guiding fatigue. The most difficult things to develop are probably downhill skiing and hard climbing (which is what many guides want to do), because both very heavy technique based sports that require plenty of time ‘practicing’. Downhill skiing can be quite fatiguing without much aerobic benefit. Hard climbing has the added issue in that fatigue, or a heavy load of aerobic work or training, often is counterproductive to truly climbing hard. (eg, studies have shown, in part, that aerobic work [and/or fatigue] compromises many types of neuromuscular endeavors, like hard climbing, which function almost solely in the creatine-ATP/neuromuscular training zone. Of note, the reverse isn’t as true, strength training often doesn’t compromise aerobic goals). Sadly, to climb really hard, you often need to cut out most of the aerobic work, at least temporarily (I’m generalizing here). This is what makes training for high end alpinism so difficult–it is often not possible to truly peak in all disciplines simultaneously.

    In summary, if your goals jive with the baseline fitness guiding provides, then with adaptation you can make it work quite well, if it doesn’t then your other goals may not be as easily achievable while guiding a lot. Perhaps a simple paid consult (phone call) with UA may be helpful, just come prepared with specific questions and goals (and re-read their book beforehand), and don’t forget to write it off, or maybe your guiding service will pay for it because in the end you will probably become a better or more fit guide because of it.

    Best of luck,


    Anonymous on #53705

    Fitness is always relative. No doubt you’re much fitter than your clients, but if you’re asking this question, you want to improve your fitness relative to you.

    The fatigue from work is the greatest challenge because it impacts goal-specific training. The problem is that you’re stuck going at the average person’s pace when, to increase your fitness, you have to spend more time going faster. But guiding makes you too tired to do so.

    Your work days can be a decent contributor to base fitness, but you’ll need to let the fatigue pass before you can do more goal-specific training. Fatigue is fatigue no matter where it comes from and has to be respected. It’ll reduce your work capacity no matter what its source.

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