Getting “Tired but not fitter”

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    Topic
  • #44169
    maiermw
    Participant

    I was listening to the podcast and heard the discussion that some people have the problem of doing activities that leave them “tired but not fitter.” One example cited was a mountain guide who spends lots of time hiking slowly with a big pack with clients. I’m confused on this point, though. If said mountain guide was going “slowly” wouldn’t that equate to spending hours in Zone 1 (or, I suppose, the recovery zone)? The training advice usually includes considerable volume in Zone 1. Is the idea expressed in the podcast that there is excessive volume at zone 1 or below that causes excess stress but does not drive a useful training effect? Would it matter if the athlete was well-conditioned and did not have ADS, so that zone 1 was the main training zone? Or does this have to do more with the pack weight issue, in that a lot of miles with a heavy pack in the “recovery” heart rate zone is not recovery?

  • Participant
    DominicProvost on #44171

    There’s a point at which base building has severely diminishing returns and you need to improve maximum strength output and local muscular endurance (while maintaining the aerobic base) to create significant improvement.

    Participant
    asgeirmar2 on #44187

    I have worked as a Glacier guide for several years and when I’m guiding, my HR is normally around 80-100bpm. For reference, my AeT is 170 and AnT is 185.

    My experience has definitely been in line with what you describe. Guiding would leave me tired but I’m not gaining any fitness. I suppose you get good at walking at a very slow leisurely pace(3-4km/hr) but there are no speed gains to be made at higher heart rates.

    I was in decent shape in summer 2019 after spending a lot of time in the Alps with somewhat structured training. Then I was Guiding all winter doing ice cave trips in Iceland and because I was working long days which would leave me tired I did not train much outside of work. Walking around 6hrs/day and driving 3-4hrs and various other physical tasks.

    I lost a lot of fitness during the winter.

    Now in 2020, there is not much guiding work due to Covid-19 so I haven’t been guiding at all and have resumed proper structured training and my form is improving a lot. Running pace at AeT was 6:00 min/km in March and now in August, it is down to 4:50 min/km.

    I’m 90% sure that if I had been guiding all this time I would not have been able to make these fitness gains due to the tiredness you get from this kind of work.

    Moderator
    Scott Semple on #44389

    The reason is that fatigue doesn’t improve fitness; it’s just a by-product. People like to think that the more tired they make themselves, the fitter they’ll be. But that’s not how it works.

    “Fitness” is always event-specific. Guides will get fitter for guiding, but they’re stuck going at super slow client pace, so their work won’t make them fast. As @asgeirmar2 described, he works at ~50% of AnT HR. That’s a recovery pace if anything, but the volume is so large that all it delivers is fatigue.

    To get faster, you have to train at fast paces.

    Participant
    maiermw on #44405

    Thanks to all for some answers. Let me build on the answer’s, especially Scott’s, with an example. Suppose my AnT is 160 and my AeT is 140. By the UphillAthlete standards that would be a little bit Aerobic Deficient, as I understand it. Compare two workouts. First, two hours on the trails at an HR around 130. Second, a slow hike with my Boy Scouts for six hours at 90-100. I think if I put both into Training Peaks that the second would have a higher TSS, and it might well leave me more tired. But you’re saying that the first would have a better training effect, at least as far as impact on raising AeT and making for a more sustainable AeT or AeT+ plus pace?

    Makes sense to me, but it does indicate that the Training Peaks score is only a loose guide to fitness achieved. Hours in Zone 1-2 might be a better metric?

    Participant
    Emil on #44414

    Would be interested to hear if anyone has worked around this, e.g. doing some proper training in addition to the very low intensity of their job (guides, waiters, etc.).Yiannis Kouros, Karl Meltzer, Geoff Roes come to mind

    Moderator
    Scott Semple on #44891

    …you’re saying that the first would have a better training effect, at least as far as impact on raising AeT and making for a more sustainable AeT or AeT+ plus pace?

    Absolutely.

    …it does indicate that the Training Peaks score is only a loose guide to fitness achieved.

    Despite what they sell it as, CTL does not measure fitness. It measures work capacity. Two people with the same CTL will perform very differently.

    Hours in Zone 1-2 might be a better metric?

    No, that’s work capacity as well. Different people will respond to different volumes differently. 🙂

    The best metric is a goal-specific time trial. For most long-duration mountain sports, that’s some kind of repeatable test or time trial at aerobic threshold.

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