Distance vs Hours

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  • #27367

    I’m having some trouble combining Training Peaks which builds the ATP using hours, the book which recommends thinking in hours for mountain runners, and the training progression examples (page 290+) are in km/miles.

    How should I think about increasing hours correctly (which includes gym and running time) while also ensuring I hit the mileage and vert I need each week?

    The book talks about volume in terms of vert, distance, and intensity on page 304+ but doesn’t mention hours.

    Thanks. This book is great.

Posted In: Mountain Running

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    Rachel on #27383

    What is your event? Vert can make sense if it has a lot of elevation change. Distance for an ultra, hours maybe if you are mixing hiking & running or on a lot of hills. This is just from my experience of training for one year too, hopefully someone else will chime in.

    I switched to planning in vert this summer after I signed up for a race with a lot of vertical (~9k of vert in 25 miles.) It seems the hours & distance sorted themselves out as well along the way. I also trained in hours earlier this year for a 15 mile race and that worked well. I haven’t trained in distance much myself but I do a lot of hiking that is on steep terrain so distance isn’t as useful I find.

    Earlier this year I tried to use the ATP with a TSS basis and fairly quickly had to give up on that. Also the guys here have mentioned not using the ATP — I agree with that. I built my plan using their books and just enter it in a few weeks at a time. I also drew a picture like the sample training plans they have in their book which I found helpful.

    I also picked up on the technique of using a stub workout on Mondays where I label the type of week (recovery, build etc) with the goal vert for the week for easy reference.

    Anonymous on #27392

    Great question. Thanks for writing in.

    Rachelp is correct but this subject deserves a deeper dive. Distance, Time, Vertical….what to use. How about all 3? We track all three in TP for all our coached clients. As Rachelp alludes to it comes down to what your goal is. If your goal event entails a lot of vert over short distance then you could/should probably prioritize vertical for the progression. However, if you are training for an event that is a certain distance then you better build a distance progression into the plan as well since you do have to be able to run 50miles if you plan to run a 50 mile race. Luckily time is a decent proxy for work since we can assume you’re using the same intensity whether you are running 10miles on the flat or hiking 5 miles steeply up and down.

    ATP: I tried to use the TP ATP feature in the past with some pros. I gave up for the reason Rachelp alludes to. The ATP requires a degree of precision and foreknowledge that is impossible in the real world. I create a macro periodization chart similar to the ones in the book. Then I decide on some meso-periods when I want to shift the focus of training. I only plan the micro periods out 1-2 weeks in the future. Reality means having to make lots of adjustments almost daily to any plan. Laying out in detail what workout you will be doing on a Wednesday 12 weeks in the future is not only futile, it can be dangerous. With that sort of artificial structure it is easy to become a slave to the plan rather than using the plan as a hand rail to guide you.

    So, back to the Distance, Vertical and Time progressions. If you are training on fairly similar terrain then after a while you’ll begin to draw a connection between Dist, Vert and Time and see that there will be a close correlation between them. As an example: Yesterday I did a hike/scramble on an alpine ridge. Up and down the total vert was around 5000ft. Total distance around 5 miles with a total time of around 5 hours. 50% was off trail and 3rd-4th class scrambling I was moving at the same intensity as if I was running 20 miles on rough mountainous trails or as if I was doing a ski tour of 5-6 miles and 7000ft that took 4 hours. The effort/fatigue felt about the same. There is no one measuring stick that works perfectly.

    Remember that as much as we want to make this a science (and many of the principles are underlain by science) there is a limit to how “sciencey” we can make training because we are not machines and especially us mountain athletes are forced into and onto highly variable terrain and modalities. That is why we spend so much ink on explaining how to monitor the effect of training. Recall this quote? “Training is not the work you do. It is the effect that work has on your body” Renato Canova. TP was set up for cyclists and Triathletes who have a much more controlled set of circumstances in their sports hence our fudge factors for vert.


    alksdjf on #27407

    Thanks. This is helpful.
    I expected to start understanding the correlation between time/distance/vert now that I’m paying attention, but wasn’t sure how to prioritize and plan.

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