Ice Climbing Eroding Aerobic Base?

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  • #62522
    MithridatesEupator
    Participant

    Hello all,

    Firstly, a big thank you to the entire Uphill Athlete community. You have all brought so much knowledge into my life, and helped me to grow my fitness.

    I’m looking for a little advice on how to think of my ice climbing trips in the larger context of my aerobic training. I have been using the 24 week mountaineering training plan (as a rough template), with some strength elements of the ice and mixed climbing plans incorporated. I track all of my workouts in training peaks, both aerobic/zoned training and strength. Most of my training time is spent on my home treadmill, Z1 and Z2 training. I also go for a Cross Country Ski a couple times a week, downhill resort skiing once a week, and a full day ice climbing outing once a week.

    I have some level of Aerobic Deficiency Syndrome, and correcting this is my primary goal. My secondary goal is to increase my ice and mixed climbing strength & endurance.

    As my primary goal is to correct my ADS/build my aerobic base, I understand I have to ensure the zoned training stimulus I provide to my body is almost entirely below aerobic threshold. While all of my treadmill running, hiking and cross-country skiing is sub-AeT, I want to understand how my ice climbing (and conversely rock climbing in the summer) changes the overall stimulus I am providing my body. I know the standard answer I see on the forums is to think of climbing as strength training, but I’m not sure I understand this completely. I’ll describe a specific outing from this past weekend, then follow-up with some questions regarding the ways this outing is providing stimulus to my body.

    I spent a total of 5:40 from truck to truck, for a 3 pitch ice and mixed climb.

    On the approach to the climb, I was trying to keep my heart rate below AeT, but the snow was almost neck deep, and we were climbing up a steep boulder field with a heavy pack. I found it completely impossible to make forward progress sub-AeT, and my heart rate was mostly Z3 with a few Z4. This felt almost like a strength workout, snowy scrambling with a heavy weight. This is not normal for approaching an ice climb, and I can usually keep it below AeT.

    I then went to lead the climb. This climb was extremely challenging (for me), technical, physical and risky. While leading the route, my heart rate was often Z3 and sometimes Z4. I even discovered a new personal max HR record of 206 BPM while pulling a very hard (for me) crux. I feel my HR was elevated not just by the physical effort, but also by the stress of being on the sharp end. My calves were burning with pump, and they were extremely fatigued the following day.

    My questions:

    1. While approaching the climb, does this time count towards higher intensity zoned training? Muscular Endurance? Strength?

    2. Let’s say this approach took 1 hour. Does that 1 hour get weighed in the ratio against my other sub AeT training hours?

    3. Could overdoing this type of approach (relative to sub-AeT work) lead to loss of aerobic base?

    4. Regarding the actual climbing, does this count as higher intensity zoned training? Muscular Endurance? Strength?

    5. How do you think of quantifying HR zone while lead climbing, if it is subject to physical exertion and the stress of the sharp end?

    6. Are there any additional thoughts on how I should think of this sort of outing, either the approach or climbing, in terms of quantifying training load or balancing against other stimuli?

    Thanks so much for your help. I hope my questions were clear, happy to elaborate further if not.

    Kind regards,

    Jared

Posted In: Climbing

  • Keymaster
    Scott Johnston on #62669

    Jared: Thanks for writing in with your questions. I comment below:

    1. While approaching the climb, does this time count towards higher intensity zoned training? Muscular Endurance? Strength? YES. All of these. It is a mix of everything you need in training all done in one workout. Not a bad thing but I would not suggest doing this this 3 days a week 🙂

    2. Let’s say this approach took 1 hour. Does that 1 hour get weighed in the ratio against my other sub AeT training hours? YES.

    3. Could overdoing this type of approach (relative to sub-AeT work) lead to loss of aerobic base? YES, See #1 above.

    4. Regarding the actual climbing, does this count as higher intensity zoned training? Muscular Endurance? Strength? YES AGAIN. This is what we call utilization training. A little is good. Too much is bad and will have a negative effect on your Capacity building training.

    5. How do you think of quantifying HR zone while lead climbing, if it is subject to physical exertion and the stress of the sharp end? Both I am sure.

    6. Are there any additional thoughts on how I should think of this sort of outing, either the approach or climbing, in terms of quantifying training load or balancing against other stimuli? Read this article https://uphillathlete.com/capacity-training-vs-utilization-training/

    Scott

    Participant
    MithridatesEupator on #62788

    Hi Scott,

    Thanks so much for the reply and help. I took some time to digest and I have a better understanding now. The article you linked on Capacity vs. Utilization training was very helpful, and I think that concept was missing from my comprehension.

    I think what I was confused by was the idea that you have to keep most of your training time below AeT, say 90% in a week (just to have a specific number to work with). That becomes almost impossible to maintain with a single long day of ice/mixed climbing on the weekend. If I spend 4 hours leading where my HR is above the AeT, then I would have to spend 40 hours of sub-AeT work to maintain that ratio. So is my description of calculating that ratio correct?

    I went climbing again this past weekend and noticed my HR was sub-AeT ~70% of the time, probably cause I wasn’t scared witless half the time. This seems far more conducive to maintaining that Aerobic Base building. Casual adventure days are fun too!

    Participant
    MithridatesEupator on #62812

    **I meant 36 hours of sub-AeT, not 40. Bad math. The question remains the same though.

    Keymaster
    Shashi on #63621

    Your calculation is correct.

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