Last Training Push for Aconcagua – good plan?

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  • #72571

    I’m in the final training push for Aconcagua in Feb 23. I live at 700′ asl in NC and have limited access to big elevation (live several hours from the mountains).

    I ruck stairs at a local 6 story parking garage with a weighted pack varying between 30 and 50 lbs. Hit the stairs hard for an hour, working up to but keeping below my Aet of 156. I do this three days a week (M, W and F). I started doing this instead of mostly stairmaster/eliptical etc. after EBC as it’s giving my legs the descent training.

    Tuesdays and Thursdays I hit the gym and do a running 4×4 Hiit session and then just keep going, finishing it as a 10K.

    Saturdays are state park hiking (with a weighted pack) – usually a 3-5 mile hike with decent elevation gains on rough terrain. Sundays are recovery day with an unweighted hike/walk around 3 miles.

    I’ve been focusing more on working below my aerobic threshold (rucking) the last few weeks but a sports physician told me getting my VO2 max higher would lift everything up with it. (tested VO2 max at 55 in 2021 and just 46 this month- analysis attributed the decline to me no longer doing Hiit training and changing over to mostly running). So despite my focus on the aerobic threshold, the physician recommended I add Hiit training twice a week and in a month should have a higher VO2 max that the original 55. I’m going to retest in January. He also identified that I have a massive VE which he said was a big advantage.

    I’m 52 and since this started in 2019, have done EBC, Kili, climbed in Ecuador (got skunked on cotopaxi due to high avalanche danger) and have knocked out about 18 CO 14’ers. My training has always served me well on the previous climbs but I’m trying to step it up for this one as quite frankly, it intimidates the heck out of me.

    I have a demanding full time job and a family so training time is limited and I need to make the most out of how I spend it. I’m going through “Training for the New Alpinism” yet another time but overall, does this come across as a good training plan for this last push?

Posted In: Mountaineering

  • Keymaster
    Jane Mackay on #72577

    jpenznc, I can’t answer your primary question, but in an article on this site debunking the myth of V02 max, at least in the context of mountain sports, Scott Johnston writes:
    “Here’s the reality, especially as it pertains to the people we coach at Uphill Athlete: You do not need a monster motor to summit a Himalayan peak or run an ultra. No one races 50 miles or climbs a mountain while operating at their maximum capacity. You can hold that effort for only a few minutes. Besides, there’s so little oxygen at high altitudes that it’s physically impossible to operate anywhere near your top-end intensity. These pursuits demand endurance, which is the ability to sustain a submaximal workload for a long time—over multiple hours or even days. You’re not going to be running 5-minute miles at 8,000 meters.”

    The Max VO2 Myth

    jpenznc on #72580

    Yep, I’ve read that and get it. I think my heart rate averaged below 120 bpm on the entire kili climb. Similar heart rates in Ecuador. It absolutely makes sense. I’ve been getting the VO2 max tested to figure out my heart rates for training zones but there is also the side of me that wants to push and see how high I can get it. My guide hates running and agrees it’s a waste of time for trekking./mountaineering but after we did a climb of Holy Cross (a real grind), he said “just keep doing whatever it is you’re doing.”

    The analogy I use is running is formula one training. Rucking is diesel training – load up like a big truck and just go slow and steady for a long time without stopping.

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