Simultaneous Climbing and Running Training

  • Creator
  • #19120

    I am a 25 year old male with a 28k race scheduled for labor day weekend. I’d love to also climb 5.12 this year. I consistently climb 5.11 and I don’t currently hangboard or do much more than work on my movement and mental game at the moment.

    My thought was possibly the “Intro to Ultras” training plan and then add some hangboarding, core, potentially some 4×4’s or other power endurance drills. I am currently, in my unprofessional opinion, suffering from ADS. I have been working with a coach for the last year and a half working to improve my climbing, running, and skiing however so I am much more well rounded than previously in my life. Thoughts?

    I apologize if this has already been covered.


  • Participant
    Michaeltyoung on #19133

    You probably climb harder than me, so take this with a grain of salt. There’s a lot to say on the topic of mixing endurance training with climbing training but I’ll start it off with the recommendation to start a hangboard regimen. Hangboarding in general is one of the best tools to improve climbing ability (besides climbing), and is particularly effective when you’re trying to balance climbing training with endurance training because the recovery time from hangboard will only minimally interfere your running training and recovery. Ie–you should find it possible to overlap running and hangboard without too much added fatigue.

    ARCing (high-volume continuous easy climbing for endurance) and power work (bouldering, campus) are important climbing training tools as well, but the problem is that these are much more demanding overall so it’s easy to venture into overtraining land when mixing them with running training.

    If you don’t need to peak both running and climbing fitness simultaneously, your best bet will be to alternate periods of focusing more on climbing with focusing more on running. Whether you have time to achieve a peak in climbing fitness this year before your race will depend on your training history in both sports.

    Gabe on #19229

    Thanks for the reply, I’ll plan on focusing on running first and maybe just hangboarding or simply just climbing. Follow up question, what’s generally considered ‘enough’ running, post-race, to keep my aerobic fitness relatively high while I transition into climbing for a few months? Eventually, once there is enough snow, I’d be working on ski touring/ski mountaineering but there will be a solid 2 months of not training for a race and purely climbing.


    Steve House on #19233

    A good rule of thumb is that for athletes like yourself you can improve one capacity at a time. You can improve your running and maintain your climbing…or vice-versa…but it is unrealistic to try to improve two such polarized physical capacities at the same time.

    The exception would be if you’re just starting out and the improvement curve is super steep, say you just started climbing and you can go from 5.6 to 5.10 in a year.

    That said, I highly encourage everyone to spend time fingerboarding. It won’t impact your running but it will have huge long term benefits to your climbing. If approached gradually and consistently you’ll have strong and (knock on wood) pretty injury-proof fingers. A great foundation for improvement!

    Anonymous on #19239


    Michael covered the bases pretty well in his reply. There are a number of issues to consider when training to improve in diverse activities like hard rock climbing and ultra running where there is really no overlap in the training methods of training effects.

    The first thing to consider is your time constraints. Training to maximize improvement means devoting a lot of time. Do you have time to double up like this. While you can probably make some good gains in moving from 5’11 to 5.12 with 2-4 hours of focused training per week, ultra running gains will require considerable a higher volume of training. Although a 28km race is not in the “ultra” category, you say you need a bunch of aerobic base work. So figure on 6-8 hours of running a week.

    The second big limiter is energy. Especially training for ultras will consume a bunch of energy. Recovering from each workout will be important to get the gains you seek. Trying to train with the necessary intensity to improve the hard rock climbing end of things will be impacted by the energy demands for your runs. To best handle this I suggest training the strength, power and skill workouts for climbing early in the day when you are fresher. Doing the long base aerobic work before a high power climbing work out will not workout well.

    Other considerations are the down regulation of certain signaling proteins which reduce the desired training effect. The AMPk signaling pathway which triggers aerobic adaptation is slightly down regulated by hard strength training sessions. The mTOR signaling pathway is significantly down regulated by prolonged endurance training. Just as in economics: There is no free lunch.

    Michael’s suggestion to use what is called block periodization to switch emphasis for a few weeks at a time between the primary mode of training while just maintaining the secondary mode works well for a lot of the athletes we coach. The blocks can be from 10 days to 3 weeks long.

    The downside to the block periodization is that it does not work well for building basic aerobic capacity when frequency and duration of the training stimulus are key.

    I hope this helps

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