Combining MAF running and climbing training

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  • #54299
    Anonymous
    Inactive

    Hello all, this is my first post here.

    As you could guess from the title of my post, my questions concern training both sports at the same time. I’m going to give you some information on my background before diving into the questions.

    I am a 31 year old male, 62-65 kg at 1.78m most year round, 60 +-0.5 when in peak shape. So my physiology is quite wiry and always has been. I have worked physically demanding jobs since I was 15 (mostly logging in very steep terrain) and have gained a lot of robstness and baseline strength and fitness from this.

    I grew up with climbing and have been doing it on/off for about the past 20 years or so, however I had more time to dedicate to sports due to attending University in the past 5 years. I took up running about 3 years ago and really love it, especially racing and training for a specific event. I reduced my climbing a lot during the intense phases of the training, only going to the gym 1-2 times a week with a laid back approach. I found that the strength gained from climbing is really beneficial to my running and positively impacts my overall wellbeing. I have become a very competitive person over the course of the past few years and fell like I have to be on the watch to not overdo things. Covid has forced me to a different lifestyle for a year, with a lot of work and very little sport.

    I am returning to university in fall this year and am looking for a holistic way to combine both running and climbing. I do not want to choose between the two and specialize in only one area as I really love so many aspects of both sports. The goal is to tackle >8a at some point and get back to trail races once it is possible again. I am used to be VERY physically active (4k – 7k kcal/day, 5 days a week when working in logging) and my system is not very happy with sitting in a room all day, so besides loving the sports, I need them to balance all the mental work and the sitting.

    I can usually climb 6b no matter how long I do not climb and am back at +- 7a after about 1.5 – 2 months. With running, I only train by MAF, trail and road. I’ll add some speedwork before an event but am keeping it nice and aerobic all the other time.

    In a tyical week I’d run something like

    Mo 60 min MAF
    Tue 100 min MAF
    Wed 40 min REC (MAF-15)
    Thu Rest
    Fri 60 min MAF
    Sat 130 min MAF
    Sun Rest

    So I was trying to do 2 longer runs/week (trail) while keeping the time spent about 50/50 between the first and second half of the week. I usually plan my training on a weekly basis, progress for 3 weeks and then reduce 30% in week 4. Sometimes I’ll go out for > 20k long runs and did not feel like I want to stop, or felt like I could do it allover again. What kept me from doing more was just my head telling me that I should be careful as I still consider myself an inexperienced runner and I did not want to step things up to quickly. However I feel like my work has given me a very solid physiology and since I am fine with my running volume and never had any injuries, I thought I could use the extra energy and add some more climbing. If I’d go climbing in a week like that, it would most likely be on Monday and/or Wednesday.

    So I was wondering:

    Are there any serious, long-time runners/climbers here who could progress well in both sports?

    Do you guys know of a good way to mix running and climbing throughout the week that has worked well for you? How do you go about peaking for a race/project?

    I gain mass easily and since I want to stay light and lean, I do not focus on building muscle, but much more on good technique. Consequently I do not go bouldering and do mostly route climbing or endurance focused gym sessions. Since my running is mostly aerobic and my climbing is also not extremely taxing, how much volume do you think one can do with this approach? Do you think 8+ hours of running and 3 times climbing per week is something that one can maintain for a longer period of time?

    I need the activity, absolutely love both sports and just do not want to overtrain 🙂

    Thank you very much for making it to the end of this post!

  • Moderator
    Scott Semple on #54314

    Forum pro tip: Questions first, background later.

    Are there any serious, long-time runners/climbers here who could progress well in both sports?

    Yes.

    Do you guys know of a good way to mix running and climbing throughout the week that has worked well for you?

    Yes, schedule your harder climbing days when you’re fresh(er), perhaps on rest days for running and vice versa.

    How do you go about peaking for a race/project?

    Tapering is very personal and varies per person.

    …how much volume do you think one can do with this approach? Do you think 8+ hours of running and 3 times climbing per week is something that one can maintain for a longer period of time?

    Which “one”? Training load depends on training history. Three hours might be a lot for one person, and 12 might be too little for another. Most people will improve on eight hours; Kilian Jornet would lose tons of fitness.

    Inactive
    Anonymous on #54324

    Thank you Scott! I never knew Ueli was such an avid trailrunner, participating at OCC and working to qualify for UTMB…

    Thanks also for pointing out how fundamentally flawed my question regarding volume is 😉 I guess I’ll just have to ease into training again, see how I feel and adjust on the go. I’ve always found it quite easy to progress in climbing and while I did specific strength training, I never felt like I needed to work according to a planned schedule.

    With endurance sports everything seems more complex to me and mixing the two doesn’t make things easier. Maybe it would be a good idea to talk to a coach at some point. I don’t want to overdo it, but at the same time not let too much potential go to waste.

    Moderator
    Scott Semple on #54331

    Worrying about overdoing it is more valuable than worrying about anything going to waste. The latter almost always leads to overtraining.

    When you’re ready, we offer phone consults (bottom of the page).

    Participant
    AshRick on #54417

    Alex Honnold just did a “casual” 12-hour R2R2R run. He’s a pretty good climber. 😉

    My son is a climber and started doing some longer run training, to pace me the last part of Leadville this fall. His report is that the base running miles have made him a better climber. His buddies are tired after the hike to the climb, and he’s still fresh. He says he recovers more quickly after a given pitch. And is more ready to go again the next day. His long run fitness has expanded his horizon on attacking harder-to-reach climbs, like around Bishop, CA. There are climbs with a 15-20 mile approach to do. Day trip for an ultrarunner. Two days of camping for everyone else.

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