Increased initial volume during transition period?

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  • #81428

    Hi all!

    First-time forum poster here, although I’ve done quite a lot of perusing in recent months and am about halfway through Training for the New Alpinism.

    Here’s the short version of my question:
    I’m thinking of starting my transition period with a higher volume of training than the recommend 50% of the last year’s average. What factors might make this a good or a bad idea?

    The more detailed context:
    I’ve been an active day hiker for >10 years and really got into mountain activities (rock climbing, mountaineering) in 2020. I’m putting together my first-ever training plan with an eye towards climbing Rainier next year, although I think that the focused nature of all of this will really help me in rock climbing as well–the aerobic side for alpine approaches and the strength side for breaking past the 5.9-5.10a zone where I’ve been hanging out for a year or so.

    Anyway, I’m currently at the beginning of the transition period after quite an active summer. I spent lots of weekends doing moderately strenuous alpine climbs and/or backpacking, plus about one evening a week of cragging, plus cycling as my primary form of transport (near daily), plus some moderately structured strength training (~2x/week, some weeks more diligently than others, mostly focused on knee stablization exercises). These were not very structured activities, but I started perusing this website in the spring so I did prioritize staying below my aerobic threshold. I work a desk job, so I’m sure there’s at least some aspect of the “weakened weekend warrior” effect that I’ll need to address going forward.

    All of this to say, I understand the purpose of a transition period generally, and I think it’ll be valuable for me for logistical reasons (fitting in structured training to my schedule), for starting core/general strength training, for making sure that I’m spreading out aerobic activities over the week, and for explicitly monitoring for fatigue. Transition period = good.

    It is in the details of planning the transition period that I have some doubts.

    Bringing this back to the question of volume of training, if I cut back to 50% of last year’s average weekly training volume, I would barely cover my commute to and from work before I hit the max volume. Beyond that, a weekend alpine climb with even a moderate appraoch (say, an hour or two) would put me way, way over the target volume.

    If I were coming off of a big event that warranted a recovery period, then it would make a lot of sense to me to use the 50% benchmark as you were ramping *up*. I respect that undertraining is better than overtraining, but since I’m not coming out of a recovery period, it seems pretty counterintuitive to cut *back* pretty drastically on the number of minutes I spend per week on aerobic activity.

    Would it not make more sense to start with a higher training volume (say, about what I’ve already been doing for months with no observable ill effect) and be careful to structure *that* time to make sure it’s continuous and gradual, with modulation to address fatigue after harder days?

    I’m curious to get other perspective on this before I commit to one thing or another.


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