Preparing for year-long "event".

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  • #15174

    I plan on undertaking a year-long project that involves hiking to the top of 47 of the highest peaks in the Adirondacks every month for 12 consecutive months. These 47 peaks can be grouped into anywhere from 10-15 outings, each of which would entail 5-8 k of vertical and anywhere from 10-15 hours of hiking, depending upon the conditions. The trails in the Adirondacks are notoriously rugged and difficult, being very steep with large chunky rocks. Descending usually takes more out of you than ascending.

    Using TFTNA I have prepared for 3 shorter but much more intensive projects and usually give myself 6 months to get into shape. This next project will be more of a marathon and will continue for an entire year. It will start and finish in the most difficult months of the year: January and December. These are tough months due to having to do a lot of trailbreaking. (I will use both snowshoes and skis in the winter months.)

    Even if I string together multiple days to take advantage of good weather spells I will always have plenty of recovery time.

    I was wondering if there are any particular considerations regarding the physical preparation for and the execution of this project that anyone might want to share with me. Thanks!

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    Anonymous on #15178

    Way to shoot for the sky. Thats not a marathon effort. It’s many marathons stacked together. The basics are that you need to have a huge base before starting this and then you need to be able to find some blocks of time during this year when you can drop back to a base training mode.

    You should try to plan some of the climbs as easier sessions so that can contribute to the training base. Some of the others are no doubt going to be super taxing and take money out of the bank account, requiring longer recovery and lost training time. This builds some harder/easier modulation into the plan. YOU have enough experience by now to know how to monitor rest and recovery.


    Neil on #15186

    IIUC: A huge base could mean that for the 6 months I will devote to training beforehand I would want to focus almost entirely on Zone-one training. Perhaps no more than 1-2 hours weekly of Zone 2.

    I wonder about max strength gym workouts. My understanding is that the true value of these workouts lies in their ability to improve motor unit recruitment and get more units into the rotation. If this is so then during the project would I benefit from doing some max strength workouts if my down time exceeds, say 2 days?

    I suspect that weighted hill climbs will also be very important in the overall scheme of things.

    As important as pre-event training will be, my most important fitness goal might be to maintain my fitness (improve it?) during the year for the potentially extremely difficult December finish.

    Of note, during my project of last winter ( 100 peaks in 13 weeks, including 40 off-trail) my fitness improved during the first 40% of the project and then there were two huge back to back days during which I lost fitness that I never got back.

    Rowan Kamman on #15367

    Wowza, respect for taking on the ADK grid. As a Vermonter I have an idea of what you’re in for; I remember when Sue Johnston did the same in the Whites a couple years ago and was soundly impressed. In the Adirondacks, you get even longer approaches! Lucky you.

    I don’t want to spray but thought I’d comment on some aspects that I have experience with…so, if you know this already, forgive me for spraying.

    I’d be very skeptical that you could gain fitness throughout the year as a result of the repetitive, high-volume mountain travel you’re taking on. Even maintaining your initial fitness level will, I imagine, be difficult throughout the year. Unless you are supremely fit on Jan. 1, it might be smart and proactive to plan for a slow fitness decline throughout the year. And by supremely fit, I mean Sue Johnston-level fitness (Hardrock 100 winner, women’s Barkley Marathons record, etc). This is especially true given that you will be starting in winter conditions, which can be super taxing as you well know. The first month, if you do a long winter outing every 2-3 days on average, could be a massive shock to your system that could be particularly tough to recover from (5k’-8k’ per day is nothing to shake a finger at…same for 10-15 hour days). However, I assume you’ll be basing yourself from home for most of your outings, which will make recovery easier. Take what I said above with a grain of salt since my long-duration mountain trips have only been in the backcountry, and recovery was really not part of my trips until they were done.

    One upshot is that you will likely get a reprieve from time volume once the snow melts since travel will become a bit more efficient.

    As far as preparation goes, you would probably be happy during your grid year if you devoted training time beforehand to zone3+ workouts to increase your economy. You’d be getting more bang for your buck since “tuning” yourself up like this would mean more efficient travel for less energy. A big base is great but your fitness would be even better with some high-end work thrown into the mix. Your climbing legs would probably thank you too if you committed to a general strength-> max strength-> muscular endurance component of your training plan centered around climbing efficiency. As far as strength training during the grid year, I can’t really comment on the effectiveness of that; maybe if you have extra energy? I used these tenets to train for a month-long bikepacking/hiking trip in the Colorado 14ers this past summer and was happy that I did.

    A cautionary tale based in personal experience to end. The aforementioned bike/hike trip I did was, like your grid plan, a big step up in commitment and intensity compared to anything I’d done before. Despite 6 months of really solid training (ending up being much fitter than ever before), I got completely and totally wrecked. Granted, I was sleeping in a tarp and my diet was frightening, so my recovery during the trip was almost non-existent. However, I got served an entire counter filled with humble pie by the time I ended my trip; I had thought I had the fitness to take this on in a healthy manner, but was naively mistaken. That trip finished in late August and I’m currently still recovering from Overtraining Syndrome as a result. I wouldn’t change anything I did since it was a priceless educational experience (the School of Hard Knocks is deadly effective) as well as a quality adventure; as such, I feel qualified to share personal experience relating to planning big, mountain-endurance related trips. I don’t know your endurance background but it sounds very accomplished and solid. I hope all this doesn’t come across as assuming you don’t know what you’re in for. That said, OTS is really something to consider when planning your grid year. My trip lasted a month and I’ve been dealing with it for almost four months; imagine what a whole year might do to your system. Is that something you’re willing to take on to complete the grid? I know this is a bummer of a topic to bring up, but when planning such an extreme trip I strongly feel that potential OTS should be as important a consideration as planning and executing your training.

    That said, I will be rooting for you across the Lake with high hopes for your success. I can’t imagine a better method than a calendar year grid to get to know a place intimately.

    Neil on #15376

    Wow! Thank you for sharing your experience and thoughts. I’ve been going back and forth with Sue regarding her experience and started a very small private FB group with Sue and a half-dozen ADK “gridiots” (multi-year). My experiences with doing the 46 in 10 winter days and last winter’s single-season ADK-100 Highest have given me a bit of a window for understanding the prep and withstanding of these challenges. I will be fully retired 9 months before the start date so I should be able to prepare myself. I will do a couple of test months wherein I will hike all 47 peaks (ADK-46 plus McNaughton).

    It’s easy to only focus on the physiology of these training cycles. However, for me the foundation upon which aerobic power rests will always be the connective tissues. Tendons and their attachments, fascia, ligaments, joints etc. all need to be toughened up to withstand the particular type of punishment that is meted out by the Adirondacks.

    Regarding overtraining, I hope that doing the bulk of preparation while hiking up to 2-3 days per week and always being mindful of respecting a “552-peak pace” will be a key factor in preventing that. Whenever I train too hard I sleep poorly (autonomic nervous system?) and use that as a signal to take a rest day or two.

    Maybe I’ll do some peaks in VT!

    Rowan Kamman on #15378

    10 days!! Alrighty then, you know what you are about. No more need be said from my end. Good luck with the grid year!

    Neil on #15379

    Well, a 10 day event preceded by 6 months of intense training is completely different from a SYG. That said, I felt really good all throughout the 10 days.

    Steve House on #15389

    We’ll expect a report 😉
    Good luck.

    Neil on #15406

    Scott and Steve,
    When did you guys decide my name was Hugh? 🙂

    For sure I will post a report. Maybe a couple of interim reports considering this event will last an entire year excluding the training.

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