Fitting month-long backpacking trips into the year?

  • Creator
    Topic
  • #50691
    GDS
    Participant

    For 2-3 months of the year, I instruct month-long backpacking courses for school programs. The pack loads can be high (65-85 lbs), but the intensity is usually low (average 5-6 miles/day). I usually feel a little sore the first few days of hiking, but rarely am breathing hard. Most recently I completed the foundation for rock alpinists plan, and started the advanced rock alpinists training plan. These were my first forays into formal training. Questions for the group:

    1. How should I incorporate/ count these trips into my training schedule? Do they count towards a base period, or is the intensity too low?

    2. What would be the best focus for additional training during my limited free time (2-3 hours/week) while on the trip? I noticed improvement in my aerobic fitness during the last month, and would love to maintain that as much as possible.

    My training goal for the summer is to be less tired on long rock routes in the Cascades, Sierras, etc.

  • Participant
    LindsayTroy on #50701

    When do these trips occur? a 2 month backpacking trip in January will be different than 2 months right in the middle of summer climbing season.

    Participant
    GDS on #50718

    Sure! Usually about 1 month in length in March, May, and August.

    Participant
    LindsayTroy on #50723

    Based on the timing it looks like you’ll just have to work around them. The backpacking will count as aerobic volume and will likely comprise all of your volume during these months otherwise you’ll be at risk of overtraining.

    If you don’t have ADS, this high volume in zone 1 (I presume based on your description) is what you want. And if you do have ADS, you’ll likely want to spend the time between August and March improving that with Z2 work since I doubt you can adjust the pace of these hikes too too much.

    I think it would be ideal to build up so you can tolerate these loads and also do a “gym” workout 1-2 times per week to maintain upper body fitness and they make all sorts of cool travel hangboards and ring set ups that potentially you could cary with you to maintain or improve that fitness. But being aware not to overtrain will be important if you’re doing 6hrs/day of hiking.

    With these long alpine climbs, is there an area that you need the most improvement in? If its on the approaches these backpacking trips could be really good, but somehow I doubt thats the case!

    Participant
    GDS on #50786

    Thanks for the response! Your suggestions are in line with what I was thinking for the fingerboarding and strength additions during these backpacking trips.

    I’ve noticed that on approaches and runs, I often feel winded and struggle to keep up with my partners, especially once the intensity or slope increases. Based on this feeling and my 12:30min/mile pace to stay aerobic at the start of the foundation plan, I probably have ADS?

    I am hoping that these long mellow backpacking trips help build up my aerobic base, and going into it with more knowledge this year will be helpful for assessing the effect, but in my past experience, I haven’t noticed much improvement in my aerobic threshold, especially compared to the improvements in pace and heart rate from the long slow runs I’ve been doing. Is it possible the backpacking intensity is too low to see much of an aerobic effect?

    Participant
    TerryLui on #50833

    Based on this feeling and my 12:30min/mile pace to stay aerobic at the start of the foundation plan, I probably have ADS?

    Possibly but I wouldn’t make that assumption only based on your /mile pace. Do an AeT test:

    Heart Rate Drift: A Functional Measure of Aerobic Fitness

    Is it possible the backpacking intensity is too low to see much of an aerobic effect?

    100% possible. I work similar contracts as yourself (NOLS instructor) and saw my AeT drop 10bpm after a 1mo trip similar to what you described.
    If you have ADS then these trips CAN build up your AeT but once you get to a certain aerobic level that is above the aerobic demands of your work…the work can lead to de-training.
    I’d say once you’re out of the field, update your AeT test, and resume training.

    Definitely hard to find the time to train while in the field…

    Participant
    GDS on #50841

    Sure does. I got the 12:30 pace when I did the first heart rate drift test. My AeT went up 10 bpm and I dropped a couple minutes off the min/mile pace after the foundations program.

    Would trying to sneak a in a few aerobic runs in during the month be the best way to maintain a higher level of aerobic fitness?

    I’ll have done about half the rock alpinist plan before starting the course, I was planning on just restarting after…hopefully not too detrained. =/

    Participant
    TerryLui on #50961

    Would trying to sneak a in a few aerobic runs in during the month be the best way to maintain a higher level of aerobic fitness?

    Try it out and see how you feel. Based on my experiences, these courses are highly variable on time/energy demands so if/when you have time to go for a run…do it!
    Then pay attention to how you feel afterwards (i.e. recovery). Adjust accordingly.

    And yes, when I get back from the field I take 2 weeks off before starting up a training plan again (partly just to get caught up on life and reconnect w/ loved ones but also to give my body time to recover/decompress).

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