Ski, Climb, Run in the PNW: Annual Planning?

  • Creator
  • #11301

    I live in the PNW and I climb, ski, and run. I feel like lots of athletes on here have have similar pursuits in similar seasons, but I’m trying to figure out how to best schedule all this in the year.

    For example, my (A) goals for the upcoming season would be to peak in May for SkiMo / Volcano season (e.g. a week trip with a Liberty Ridge car-to-car ascent), and to peak in August for the Alpine Rock season (e.g. a week or two roadtrip with the Beckey-Chouinard in-a-day). (Both these periods, if they included multiple ascents per week, can easily reach 40+ hour/weeks.)

    But on top of that, I would like to invest some specific time into some (B) goals; a small cragging peak (e.g. enough to bump my onsite grade a letter or two), and a trail race (e.g. 50km), wherever they best fit into the schedule. I’d like to be able to keep my general strength and endurance improving throughout the year, but still carve out periods to be focused and to get some “quick wins” here and there.

    I definitely didn’t get the scheduling right this year. So… how do you do it?

    For example, if I was to do an 8-week rock climbing cycle, a 12-16 week skimo cycle, an 8-week running cycle, and however much time I had for a pure alpine climbing cycle… How would that best be scheduled? What dates would you want each cycle to start and finish, and where do the goal trips/climbs happen in that calendar? Is there scheduled rest involved as well that I’m missing?

    Would love to see what kind of calendars people have gotten figured out! Thanks!

  • Participant
    sambedell on #11526

    Hi strudell,

    It seems to me that your ability to do all those things in a year depends on how reasonable each is for you. If they are all the sort of thing where you just need to sharpen up in each discipline then sure, but if any one objective is a big reach that you need to improve significantly for then you should probably take a solid 6 months or more to focus on getting ready for it and accept that you need to sideline the other sports significantly.

    The other question is time and energy. If you were in good enough climbing/endurance shape to give the B-C-in-a-day a run last year but you had to take 6 months off of any serious climbing because of work and you know you’ll be pulling 60+ hr weeks in the office the rest of the year with just short weekend trips here and there, then that may pose a problem. But if you live out of your van or work a flexible schedule and will be spending a large part of this year training for and doing these sports then its probably not a big deal to do all these things.

    Assuming these are all reasonable objectives and you have the time/energy to get after it consistently I would do skiing in the spring, climbing in summer and running in the fall/early winter. Think of your B goals as workouts that can prep you for your A goals. Spend the Fall running and doing general strength twice a week; if you climb just do some casual laps at the gym or crag with friends, include a little hangboarding with your strength sessions. Do your 50k at the end of the fall, maybe travel to some area warmer and drier like near Moab or Bishop or Vegas for the race and then spend a few days after the race cragging as your legs recover. Come home take a down week and get right into winter ski training, go ski tour weekly instead of a long run, you’re still running on some work days when you can’t make it to the slopes, maybe now you’re doing Max Strength or even Muscular Endurance work and you join friends at the rock gym or crag once a week for a stack of pitches or some ARCing. As spring comes around you’re ski touring longer volcano objectives on the weekends and doing ME arm days and bouldering sessions during the week while the legs recover. You hit Rainier in May every weekend, if the weather sucks you skin some laps lower down and then bust over to Tieton for some cragging so as not to overtax yourself in case next weekend is perfect. You hit that good weather/partner weekend and send Lib Ridge, then take a down week and go cragging at Index. Now its rock season, you’re still running most work days but its pretty chill and bouldering/cragging 1-2 of those work days, weekend trips are now WA Pass or Enchantments, as with the skimo you have a series of B and C goals that you progress through to meet your volume and work on your skills. Late July or early August you set a new onsight best on one of these days and then rest up for a couple weeks before heading to the Bugs for that B-C-in-a-day. After that you use your airmiles and any vacation you miraculously have left to take your girlfriend to Hawaii and do ABSOLUTELY NOTHING besides chill on the beach (preferably for a month).

    You mentioned 40 hr weeks. Yeah, sure that’s possible if you have a huge base and are well rested but don’t expect to do that week after week, especially setting new onsight bests too. Basically to pull this off you need to have a long build-up of general fitness and then have each of the goals be easy enough that they don’t require a serious peak or over-reaching of your energy reserves, otherwise you’re done and need to start the buildup over again. If any of your goals are a “wow this will be so much harder/bigger than anything I’ve ever done” then pick one for the year, only if all of them are a confident “I just need to make sure I’m in good shape for that trip” is it reasonable.

    jakob.melchior on #12287

    I don’t have a great answer for you regarding the planning. Actually, quite the opposite as I am struggling with much the same. So I will be following the topic closely.

    I feel like combining skiing and running together isn’t that hard, especially if you keep up some running all winter. For me the closest skitouring is 45-60 Minutes away so I have to keep running a bit during the week anyway but I feel that serves me well come late spring when the closest snow is more like 2h away and I start focusing more on running. Actually, I often feel like I am running best coming right out of the skitouring season with good fitness and not too much running fatigue in my legs.

    Fitting climbing into the mix is much harder for me personally. But hopefully I will figure that out soon too. The upcoming winter I plan to go bouldering more regularly (2-3/week) for shorter sessions (45-75 minutes) to keep a baseline up.

    I feel like keeping a good bit of specifically in all sports is critical to keep up a decent base level of performance through the year and trying to maximise cross-training.

    Being so fit that the planned tours are all “easy” like Sam says might sound good in theory but doing more challenging stuff is always more fun so I just try to be flexible and expect to mess up sometimes and overreach a bit too far and having to take a step back and reassess.
    But I guess it has a lot to do with priorities. I, for example, would be willing to go for a mountaineering epic the week before my A trailrunning race even if that means I might only have 90% on the day of the race.

    Steve House on #13153

    Hi Strudell,
    Honestly, you’re proposing un-realistic goals here. Here are my rule of thumb which I’ve relayed to many athletes such as yourself.
    -One can increase their capacity in a particular sport ONLY WHEN they are focused only on that one sport.
    -One may maintain their capacity in up to 2 sports.
    -Trying to maintain capacity in 3 or more sports, especially disparate ones like rock climbing and running, leads to a decreased level in all sports.

    As others have pointed out ski-touring/running in the winter, as described by Jakob, fit well together. You could increase your aerobic fitness throughout the winter for a good spring peak. BUT if you try to add in climbing, you can only expect to maintain your climbing and aerobic level, not increase either.

    This is fundamentally part of the perception and mis-understanding about fitness in the outdoor sports communities that Scott and I set out to up-end with our book and this website. So I really appreciate your bringing it up. Yours (if I’ve understood your question correctly) is an extremely common mis-understanding.

    strudell on #13157

    Wow, amazing answers so far, I think I’m starting to wrap my head around this. Thanks!

    So, four true peaks (Run, Climb, SkiMo, Alpine) is too much, which is great to recognize. For me, this years goals require only maintenance of my rock and ice climbing ability, they are largely work capacity goals which I hope let’s them tie into each other. Can I go uphill for 16 hours and still ski a long descent? Can I do 3 or 4 or 5 alpine climbs in a week when the July high pressure hits?

    As for running and cragging: I see it’s best to keep “event” days small, the type of “try hard” days which don’t actually require real recovery time before or after. So, maybe still a race or a climbing trip, for fun and motivation, but nothing that really takes a deposit from the bank or requires over-reaching.

    The Ranier goal is where my motivation is, and it’s the biggest stretch for me. What I really want out my year is to do a big training cycle before May and then hit the volcanoes in the best shape I can be in when they come into shape. Taper, recovery time, the whole deal.

    Then, sometime, maybe in July now (August was sure lean and smokey this year) I’ll do a week or two in the summer Alpine. The problems I encounter on these trips aren’t skill-based, or even really endurance per se, just straight work capacity – how many 8-12 hour mountain days can you do in a row? For this part of the year I just want to ensure I’ve maximized my work capacity (and completed my maintenance work on the rock) so that I can be as productive as possible when the skies are blue. Is that more reasonable? Which plans / dates / recovery periods should I look at if doing a year in this way is workable?

    And then the fall – Sept, Oct, Nov – is that just for fun? Don’t get fat, do some physio, enjoy the cragging, take a vacation? Maybe sign up for a running race if the motivation is high and the Alpine didn’t take too much out of the bank?

    Josh Gray on #13158

    Strudell, have. Listen to this. This guy broke his focus into roughly 3 month Blocks.

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