Adjusting trail running plan for occasional ski touring

  • Creator
  • #52290

    Background: I’m sure I’m not alone in asking this sort of question, but I’m training for a 50k race in September, and am using Mike Foote’s Big Vert plan. I will start the plan in about a month, and am currently spending 4 weeks transitioning back into running from a winter spent primarily ski touring with running sprinkled in here and there. However, as I’m sure is the case for many in these forums, spring is a great time to go for some of those big ski days when conditions allow. Obviously, spending a big day or two ski touring/climbing instead of running is not the ideal training plan, but we’re all human, and sometimes the fun of the ski/climb can’t be resisted. Essentially, mountain running is the A goal and ski mountaineering is a B goal.

    I’m curious whether anyone has any advice for the following scenario (hypothetical at this point, but hoping this will work out). Imagine an athlete is 6 to 8 weeks into a trail running training plan, doing 30-40 miles/week and 10-15k ft gain/week. The opportunity comes up to ski a route on Rainier over 2 days on a weekend with the perfect weather window. 

    Question: What modifications to the training plan would be recommended prior to and after the Rainier climb? Potential options include: a 2-3d taper before hand, adjusting so a recovery week falls immediately after the climb, etc…would love to hear thoughts on the best practices for this type of scenario – or in more general terms, how best to sub a day of ski touring for a run here and there in the context of a structured training plan.

Posted In: Mountain Running

  • Participant
    rich.b on #52303

    First the caveat: this is only my own experience. Based on that, a goal race in September is a long way off compared to getting in a great ski tour now. Assuming you have an overall solid fitness and endurance base, I don’t think transitioning to running and preparing for a race 6 months from now is a challenge.

    Last winter we had a great, long winter and my last ski day (skijoring and some local ski randonnée) was 22 May, and similar to you I kept running in my training mix but skiing was more hours per week. Most important from my perspective was that I was maintaining the total hours training per week that I normally would do when running was my sole focus (10-12+ hr/week). From 23 May training was immediately almost 100% running (with some bikejoring mixed in) and 3 hour ski tours immediately became 3 hour runs. There was no transition problem because my legs were still used to running and I had the endurance/fitness base. In July and August I did a few 50 km training runs with a peak week of 154 km. Plans for a 50 km mountain race in late August did not quite pan out (pulled muscle on a cold day), but preparation was great. So, again, I would not think a September race should pose any problems for you.

    My take is that structured training plans are fine as long as they accommodate some flexibility (which I suppose is the advantage of a coach).

    patrick.nygren on #52307

    Rich, definitely helpful to hear that perspective and it aligns well with my plan. When you went on a longer ski tour over the weekend (maybe 8 hr/day), how did you adjust your running plan the following week? or did you just proceed as you originally intended?

    rich.b on #52314

    Hmm, adjust … No matter what my dog still needed his exercise, so a morning ski was always on the menu. What the afternoon run would be depended on how I felt, but at some point during the week (starting in early April) I tried to get in some tempo, whether fartlek, intervals or progression. I should add my ski tours were solo, so I could keep treat them more like long runs.
    At the moment with schooling in a second dog with skijoring and building his fitness, I have both dogs along on the runs and the tempo sessions aren’t possible (lots of snowshoe hares around, and also some reindeer — so the dogs have to be on leash). Eventually I can separate some runs from them to get back an interval session and a long run — and maybe a couple quick ski tours before winter runs out. But to come back to the question of adjusting plans, I keep a long-term view and flex the details as need be. For a race in September, I would think your 2-day tour would be good base-building — and fun.

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