Mountaineering + Triathlon Training

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  • #16763

    Good afternoon. First time poster but long time viewer. I’m struggling to put a few concepts together in regards to proper training plans. Living in CO, we have so many activities to get involved in that I find it difficult to find the best method to balance all the interests. I’m a 36 year old, father of three and tend to use the easy excuse of not having enough time….I signed up for the Boulder half Iron Man in Aug so trying to get myself fully squared away on that while also trying to ensure I spend time at the climbing gym and up into the hills. Being outdoors and navigating up in the mountains is my true interest and I want to spend my available time learning new skills and applicable fitness but I also find the need to ensure I’m in the pool or on the trainer with the road bike. I think both domains might help each other but I’m at a point where I don’t want to be basically ok at different sports but rather, increase my skill set and fitness and grow in the mountaineering sport. I don’t believe I will do much more in the Tri arena after the IM…more of a personal and fun challenge.

    Sorry for my rambling but was curious if anyone was following any of the programs here and also combining anything related to Triathlon type training requirements. Thanks for your time and I have really enjoyed reading yalls posts and responses. Great place for information and support. Have a great rest of your weekend.


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    Anonymous on #16768

    Hi MZ,

    If your true interest is in the mountains, then I would cut out the sports that conflict with that priority. Or accept a lower performance standard in your main pursuit.

    I used to bite off more than I can chew, and I was constantly stressed by it. The easiest way to balance my interests was to eliminate lower priority items until I only had one left.

    That’s probably not what you wanted to hear, but in the long run, it’ll be the most effective.


    Anonymous on #16777

    You can be a jack of all trades and master of none but this is likely to leave you feeling unsatisfied.

    I’m old so this term FOMO (fear of missing out) is new to me but I think it is a very thing in this time of social media.

    I’m with Scott Semple on this. Focus on being good at something that you are passionate about. You’ve got limited time already.


    Anonymous on #16780

    And the good news is that you’re in your mid-thirties! With smart training, you’ve got at least a decade of improvement ahead of you.

    To quote Charlie Munger, “I’d trade some big numbers for another decade.”

    zmtthw on #16782

    Good morning,
    Thanks for the feedback! I completely agree with the points you listed above. And only being familiar with a sport isn’t something I want to strive at. I would envision that there are some complimentary training aspects that wound cross pollenate, but I’ll aim my focus on climbing and mountaineering once the Iron Man is complete. Thanks again for the help and have a great week.


    Anonymous on #16783

    From triathlon training, running will be the most complementary. But swimming and cycling won’t offer nearly as much benefit. They would be good recovery activities though, especially easy swimming.

    Dercel on #16814

    I personally see a lot of overlap for general mountaineering. Probably depends on how big your mountaineering goals are. The base building period is very similiar in terms of building a large aerobic engine. And while cycling and swimming might not have the specificity to mountaineering, I think there very worthwhile forms of cross training. Most well trained triathletes could ”Convert” their fitness rather nicely to many non technical mountaineering activities.

    Anonymous on #16819

    Perhaps, but that conversion likely comes from their running fitness.

    I’ve been training for skimo for six years, but if I tried to swim across a lake, I would die. It doesn’t matter how big my engine is, skimo training hasn’t helped my swim technique nor reduced its metabolic cost.

    I’ve never heard anyone express a swimming or cycling goal and then ask if running will be good training for them. But it’s all too common to hear the opposite.

    I think what’s really happening is a substitution bias. We want to know, “what training is the most effective?”, but our subconscious pushes us to answer, “which training is more fun?”

    Anonymous on #16820

    The following is from a study on Marit Bjoergen, the most successful female cross country skier in history.

    63 ± 3% (545 ± 18 h) of the yearly endurance and sprint training was performed as sport-specific exercise modes (i.e., skating and classical on skis or roller skis), with the remaining 37 ± 2% (318 ± 18 h) performed as non-specific activity forms (34% running and 3% cycling).

    Training distribution by specific and non-specific training activities

    jakob.melchior on #16831

    @MZ How good is your swimming technique? If you are capable of doing solid 4-6k sessions in the pool than the fitness gains can be substantial. But then again at that level you wouldn’t worry about swimming more than maybe 1-2x a week the month before the race if you just want to finish. Making technical gains in swimming is very hard (or impossible) to do over just 6 Month with limited time. To get to a decent level I would count on needing to swim consistently 4-6x a week for 2-3 years. But just finishing the swim in a wetsuit doesn’t really need that level of proficiency.
    That is probably also where Scott Sempler is coming from by rejection swimming for fitness gains.
    And keep in mind that the cross-training effects really only matter once the specific training is close to maxed out. For example, 10h running (with vert) would obviously be better for a mountaineer than 5h running and 5h swimming but if 5h running is all someone can handle then 5+”any amount of swimming” might be better than just 5h running.

    Why do you spend time on the trainer? If you just want to get a short session in then a 1h run will help you more than 1h on the trainer (both for the triathlon and for your mountain goals). In your situation, I would focus more on doing somewhat regular long-rides outside once spring comes around (to also learn actual bike handling skills!). Way more fun and I feel longer rides are actually a good stimulus for mountaineering without breaking to body down as much as long trailrunning. You could also combine it with some trailrunning by commuting to/from the trail by bike. Maybe also have a go at the Longs Peak Duathlon.

    From personal experience, I can definitely say that I agree with the other people that it is not possible to combine triathlon and mountaineering goals on a high level but it sound like that you also came to that conclusion already.

    Jimbo on #75501

    Hi mz

    Im in the same boat mate love climbing mountains and wanna give a triathlon a go..just wondering how you went with it all?. I’ve been told by moutaneers that swimming is really good for high attitudes. That running is really good for mountain training and long bike rides are a popular training methods for climbing everest.

    To me is that not a match made in heaven.just wondering how it went for you?

    MarkG on #75502

    I’m primarily a fell runner (and sea kayaker) but I do an occasional triathlon for fun and don’t take it too seriously. I find the shift in emphasis keeps my training fresh and provides some good active recovery. As suggested above I’ll combine runs with a bike ride to my starting point or ride to a loch or the sea to swim.
    I’m happy to admit I’m not troubling the leaders in any of my activities but if your primary aims are personal enjoyment and satisfaction (while performing to a standard that is acceptable if perhaps challenging to you personally) then just enjoy whatever you want to do.

    Jimbo on #75503

    Thanks for the reply Mark ?

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