ADS and weekend hikes/ rides

  • Creator
  • #44088

    I have ADS and can’t hike at all without passing my aerobic threshold (or go for a decent bike ride). I have no problem slowing down the pace during the week and just going for walks to spend time in z1/z2, but on weekends I like to spend time with my partner and friends hiking or biking.

    Will going for weekend hikes (nothing major–just a few hours and maybe 2k of gain) undermine my ability to get rid of my ADS? I don’t really mind if it just takes longer, but if I won’t be able to cure it at all with spending several hours a week in z3 then I’m going to have to think hard about priorities.

    I have both the books, but I guess I still don’t quite understand whether you can train both systems in the same week/ month, or if you really have to focus on only aerobic if you have ADS.

    Thanks in advance for any replies.

  • Participant
    Garret on #44094

    I was wondering how you have determined your Aerobic (AeT) and Anerobic (AnT) Thresholds ?

    Zone 3 is pretty intense and a long (few hours) effort in zone 3 is hard to sustain.
    If you’re able to sustain zone 3 for a few hours on a long hike or a long bike ride it might be you’ve underestimated your AeT and/or your AnT.

    As for training both systems, sustainable and successful training at higher intensities happens when you have a strong aerobic base. Given a finite number of hours in which to train you’ll be most successful if you spend those hours developing the aerobic base first and then add intensity.

    The warning from TftUA p. 92: “For those with insufficient aerobic base development, as indicated by the 10% test, overuse of this intensity [z3] can lead to a performance decline.”

    emwa on #44096

    Thank Garret. I used the AeT drift test. Honestly I’m not terribly surprised. The issue that eventually drove me to these resources in the first place is why, even though I am ostensibly “fit,” I am always so out of breath on hikes when my friends are merrily chatting along.

    Any cardio I’ve done in my life has been HIIT, and I’ve spent most of my exercise life lifting weights. I just came to mountain/ endurance sports recently.

    I understand that it would be better to not do large amounts of z3 on the weekends, but my question is whether it is possible to improve aerobic condition at all if I am doing several hours of z3 on weekends, or if that z3 time somehow “undoes” the z1/2 effort.

    Garret on #44101

    I don’t know if it “undoes” your efforts to improve aerobic base – just that it will take longer for your aerobic system to develop as it’s not being stimulated when you are doing zone 3 work.

    Shashi on #44102

    emwa –

    You might find this discussion helpful –

    Best ways to break ADS?

    Sam Naney’s note from the discussion –
    If you’re in a truly deficient state, chances are your Aerobic Threshold is going to be a pretty mellow effort and as such, even though the AeT sits as the upper bound of Z2 you can spend much of your time near it as you improve your capacity and economy. As you notice your ability to move faster and sustain higher volumes of work, you will likely find that your economy (i.e. speed or pace) at AeT is increasing and it may begin to get more challenging, muscularly. At this point you would consider shifting more of the aerobic work during the week to lower in Z2 or even Z1, to support higher intensity work in upper Z3 and above.

    Beating ADS is ultimately about patience and frequency of workouts right at that sustainable aerobic threshold. The challenge most folks have is that when they’re facing ADS, their aerobic threshold is much slower/easier than they want to be going. Hence, patience training!

    Shashi on #44104

    Also, if you have not already read it, this article on ADS might be helpful.

    Max on #44105

    Hey Emwa!

    I am in a similar position – ADS and biking or hiking up even small uphills puts me above AeT – where going hiking or biking with friends and family seems to compromise all the time I am putting into training my aerobic base. The books and the article suggest Z3 actually erodes your aerobic base as you say:

    “Your body adapts to whatever it does routinely. If you’re always training right at your endurance limit (Zone 3), your anaerobic and glycolytic metabolic system gets notably tuned up, which DE-CONDITIONS the aerobic metabolic pathway…Another common adaptation is a REDUCTION in aerobic enzyme concentration…” -from the ADS article

    I have had to basically stop doing social or weekend physical activities in the hope that with a few months of aerobic training my AeT will improve to a point where those activities will fall in my Zone 1/2 and in the long run I will be able to do bigger objectives as well. It definitely sucks at the moment though missing out.

    Hopeful the Uphill Coaches will contradict this…

    emwa on #44107

    Thanks everyone for the replies and links, and thanks Max for knowing my pain! Maybe what I need most at this point is an ADS support group where we can all slowly shuffle uphill together, talking about the cool things our friends are doing without us.

    I guess that was the vibe I was getting from the books–that use of the anaerobic system down-regulates the aerobic system–but I was hoping that with something like a 50-50 split I could still see some improvement, even if it’s slow. If it needs to be a different ratio, then I can work within those constraints (say, a 3 hour z3 hike every other week to 6 hours of z1/z2 training in 2 weeks), but if it needs to be 95%+ time spent in z1/z2 to see any benefit at all, I might just need to make nice with my ADS, at least through the end of summer. COVID has left the rest of my social life so lame that outdoor sports are pretty much all that’s left.:)

    Max on #44140

    Haha… an ADS support group is a pretty good idea… doing cool things… slowly. Like the slow food movement, but as a reaction to Cross Fit.

    derekosborne22 on #44238

    Hi Emwa,

    Let me join in the call for an ADS support group – might be useful as I had a 25% gap between AeT and AnT even after 4 months of pure Z1/Z2 training – sever ADS. In my case it’s probably age – I’m 64!!! So to that end let me share some insights from some 50 years of hiking and a year using UA protocols. It will no doubt be a lengthy reply but hopefully it will give you some confidence and ideas to move forward.

    1. Let me state up front – UA completely changed my approach to training and after almost a year using UA as the basis for training I am hiking and riding better than I probably was in my 20’s. It works, but you have to be patient, and in my case adapt it to meet your desires. It also takes a bit more time – HIIT is a great regime for those who are really time limited, but if you want long term gains you need to invest a bit more time. As I will explain, I don’t follow it rigidly, nor do I get too hung up with false accuracy – ie if HR drifts over AeT by a few bpm so what – your metabolism is a continuum of aerobic and anaerobic, it’s not an either/or.

    2. If you’re reading this reply you are probably like me: you are not, or have never been, an elite athlete. You are simply looking to improve your fitness to increase your enjoyment from whatever endurance activity you participate in – remember the word “enjoyment”

    3. There are more training regimes than ever across the globe, each having their advocates. Fundamentally they are all variations on the same basic theme – if you want to improve your endurance you have to do cardio exercise – 3 or more times a week every week, of 30 minutes or more duration. Whatever form it takes doesn’t really matter, your cardio fitness will improve. Example 1: in the early 2000’s way before UA, I had an annual hiking weekend with some friends. One year we had a newbie – they felt they were fit and were younger than most of us. However, they were not hiking fit and by the end of the weekend were completely shattered. Role on a year, they came back and the difference was huge, as was their enjoyment. What caused the change – regular 2-3 times a week spin classes at the local gym. Now spin is a form of HIIT so not within the UA protocol, but for them it worked and really transformed their performance and their enjoyment. So, like thousands did before UA came along, any regular form of cardio training will improve your cardio performance. Period.

    So, if you’re still reading here is some practical advice based on my last year with UA.

    1. Are you still weight training? If so then you have a decision to make – drop that and focus on cardio? Doing both will be hard on your body and time. If you wish to maintain some weight training then perhaps move it to high rep/low weight ONCE per week max. If you choose all body exercises (deadlifts, squats) then it will keep body familiar with weights whilst giving you a muscular endurance benefit to better augment cardio. But keep it “easy” – your main focus should be cardio.

    2. If you can drop the bike element for a few months then I think this will help. Riding with severe ADS and getting enjoyment is not easy imho.

    3. Focus on walking. I assume you have access to a gym and hence a treadmill. Walk on this 3 times a week with a minimum 10% incline. Pace it so HR stays in top half of your Z2 and start at 30min per session. Work it up to 3 by 90-120minutes. Once you get there redo HR drift test, reset AeT (hopefully improved) and repeat. The benefit of this is it’s 100% controllable and will start the adaptation changes in your aerobic metabolism. After 3-4 weeks of this start trying to do some of the sessions fasted as this will aid the changes.

    4. Weekend hikes. Still do them and enjoy them. Perhaps ask your friends just to reign in the pace a bit, but don’t get too hung up on your HR. The more you can keep it in Z2 the better, but enjoy the hike and the chat. The one caveat to this is if these hikes really fatigue you – if so then you maybe need to shorten them or drop the intensity.

    5. Be patient: it took me nearly 2 months to start moving my AeT so it takes time. IF possible, stick with this walking only regime through to YE – it will work but you do need to keep at it weekly and remain patient. (I found audio books great for lessening the boredom of long treadmill sessions)

    6. Riding. This is where sticking to UA protocol doesn’t work for me. If you research any riding training plans from any reputable source it will include combinations of hill work, tempo rides, intervals, time trials etc etc as well as long easy rides. Basically that’s what I’ve done over the last 4 months, but have kept in 2 easy Z1/Z2 rides. Have I gone backwards – no!!! Example 2: 35 mile Z1/Z2 ride 4 months ago: frustratingly slow, ended up in Z3 for nearly 10% of time, and had average HR mid Z2. Role on 4 months to yesterday – same ride: 17% faster, zero time in Z3 and HR average was mid Z1 – huge improvement. And instead of hanging onto the back of the group on Sunday rides, I’m now one of the first to top of the hills, often in the front when pushing into a headwind and setting PB’s almost on a weekly basis. My cardio is best I think it’s ever been, and even when in Z3 it’s perfectly comfortable. Once the gyms open up it will be interesting to see if my AeT has moved up, but to be honest I’m happy just enjoying the increased fitness.

    7. Final point. Whether hiking or riding, once you get used to going “slow” I found it’s actually much more enjoyable. I’m not shattered when I get back home, I can go out more often without feeling fatigued, I have time to enjoy views and idle chat, and get a real satisfaction from not having to stop for rests or food or whatever. And actually the current “slow” is not actually that slow any more :-))) Whilst I’m not sticking rigidly to the UA protocols it forms the backbone of my exercise these days. It is now much more part of my life than purely training. Hence I’m exercising more which of course makes me fitter.

    As I say long note, but hope it helps.


    NotOnEiger on #44306

    Nice reply, thanks for the input Derek.

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