Am I doing too much volume?

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  • #44879
    Michelle Tessier

    I’m just starting week 3 of the 16 week Big Mountain Plan. I’m hoping to average about 12-15 hours of training per week, which I believe is a little more than what I did last year, only last year I called it recreating. As this is the first I’ve been actually logging my training I’ve noticed I’ve done about 14 hours (including strength training), each week for my first 2 weeks. (Previously I didn’t do any consistent strength training, but other than that the time spent outside in the mountains feels pretty normal). Based on the recommendations in Training for the New Alpinism about slowly adding volume, I’m doing too much. Most of my extra volume is in zone 1. Most of my training is hiking, and I just end up hiking for longer. For example, I’ll plan to go out for a 1.5 hour hike and end up hiking for 2.5 hours because the weather is nice. Or this past weekend my long hike was supposed to be 2.5 hours, but I hiked for 9, because I was backpacking and had nothing else to do. Or the weekend before, Saturday was supposed to be a 1 hour hike, but I also went mountain biking for a couple of hours because what else was I supposed to do with my Saturday? Overall goal here is to get faster at the uphill portion of splitboarding this winter. I feel like I’m pretty slow for my age (29), and how much time I spend doing outdoor activities that involve slowly going uphill. Anyway, my question here is as long as I’m not training when I’m too tired, am I doing damage by putting in extra time because I’m bored?

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    Anonymous on #44915

    Hi Michelle,

    These are good questions! You’re right that it’s easy to find yourself in the grey area between “training” and “recreating”; this isn’t always a bad thing and the two overlap pretty easily. A 2-3 hr hike can be “training” but the distinction I like to draw between those two is that training is done with intention. This intention can be to maintain your Aerobic Threshold, both by not exceeding it, but also by keeping the effort up high enough. I wonder if this might be of help to you; oftentimes with hiking the effort can be pretty low (below AeT), at which point the gains start to diminish. Spending more of your hours each week focused concertedly on an AeT effort, hiking uphill, may help to iron out the volume of “training” vs. “recreating”.

    The other thing I would say is that if your goal is to improve skinning pace while split boarding, it would be good to look toward eventually adding in some moderate intensity work as well; this will provide a means for you to be moving faster for short periods and training those muscles to move more efficiently. In this way, over time they will be able to operate at a faster output while still maintaining an aerobic effort.

    Bottom line: as long as you recover from day to day and aren’t feeling compounding fatigue or soreness, you’re not doing damage. BUT, you may want to consider making more of your sessions more specific/focused on the AeT and eventually up toward the AnT (Z3 intervals) if your goal is to improve economy for the riding season.


    Michelle Tessier on #44924

    Thanks for the response, Sam!
    Hmmmm, I think some of the trouble is that I’m having trouble figuring out my AeT. I did a heart rate drift test (running outside on flats) a couple of weeks ago, but it didn’t seem very accurate. My starting heart rate after warming up was 131 and training peaks said my Pa:Hr was 12%. But according to MAF my AeT should be closer to 140-150? I attributed the heart rate drift results to my legs getting pretty sore, as I don’t really run on flat pavement at all (most of my running is just jogging downhill after hiking uphill, as most of my hiking is the straight up/ straight down variety). Also, there was a bigger than I expected hill in my neighborhood I had to walk up to keep my HR down in the second half (took maybe a couple of minutes), I wonder if that also could have thrown things off. Since I got a heart rate monitor I’ve been focusing on going slower, and most of the previous summers my exercise has been more pushing a bike uphill/ pedaling at max effort up something steep and then riding down. This is the first summer I’ve been doing significantly more hiking than riding. Anyway, I suppose a HR drift test on a treadmill at a steeper grade would be a more effective test, but I don’t plan to go anywhere near a gym for a bit with the covid. Nose breathing, seems like I can definitely sustain the mid 130’s? Any advice on figuring this out? Definitely planning to add in some Z3 intervals. Thanks again!

    Anonymous on #45046

    (Sorry for the late reply!)

    Yes – sounds like the drift test you did may have gotten a bit befuddled by the circumstances. Since you do so much hiking, and your goal is improving fitness for splitboarding, it’d be best to do the drift test on incline. Ideally this is a treadmill but understandably that might not be available right now; the alternative is if you have a long sustained climb, at least 45-60min long. That would cover the specificity aspect and even if the data is still a bit wonky without the control of a treadmill, it’d probably get you closer to your actual AeT.

    rich.b on #45054

    Keep in mind as well that MAF is generic, and that value may not be right for you, Michelle. As an example, an acquaintance with an equal level of training to me cannot go faster than about 6:30/km to stay under his MAF HR (which seems what most experience), whereas I cannot go slower than 4:15-ish/km to get up to my MAF HR. So it is not necessarily the case that the result of your own test is the wrong value – not that re-testing is ever wrong.

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