starting from scratch

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  • #52013

    Hey everyone, I’ve been hillwalking and mountaineering in the UK and Europe around 10 years and recently decided to try and take it more seriously with an eye to heading to Ama Dablam in November. To that end, I have bought TfTNA and am about half way through (it’s really interesting reading and makes me realise all the mistakes I’ve been making) and have a few questions I am hoping someone might be able to help me with.

    There is a really useful graph on page 111 which shows AeT and AnT with heart rate on the X-axis. I was just wondering how ADS is reflected on this graph? Is it that if you have ADS, the AeT is too low and the middle (sugar and fat burning) section too wide? So the aim of curing ADS is too push the AeT up to a higher heart rate? Or is the AeT relatively fixed, and the aim is that my pace will increase for a given heart rate (that is below my AeT)?

    Lastly, having done no exercise other than 2 x 10 mile (mostly flat) hikes per week since the pandemic started, I am probably starting from square 1 (or zero!) and have a very poor anaerobic ability; there is a lot of emphasis in the book on not determining AeT using respiration tests, as it is possible for people with severe ADS to be able to operate anaerobically while nose breathing. Is this only the case for people with a very well trained anaerobic ability? Can I get away with judging my AeT by just nose breathing while hiking/power walking/jogging until I get a heart rate monitor and GPS watch?

    Sorry, long post! But any help would be greatly appreciated, thanks

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    Shashi on #52055

    wjcdean – Welcome to the Uphill Athlete forum!

    So the aim of curing ADS is too push the AeT up to a higher heart rate? Or is the AeT relatively fixed, and the aim is that my pace will increase for a given heart rate (that is below my AeT)?

    As you train to cure ADS, you should see an increase in AeT and an improvement in pace at a given heart rate.

    Can I get away with judging my AeT by just nose breathing while hiking/power walking/jogging until I get a heart rate monitor and GPS watch?

    This article explains different tests and their pros/cons. If you are not well trained aerobically/have ADS, then nose breathing test won’t be accurate.

    Once you have the gear you can do the heart rate drift test. In the meantime, you can do low-intensity aerobic runs/hikes.

    Hope this is helpful.

    wjcdean on #52225

    Hi Shashi, thanks for the response, that is really useful to know! I feel like everything is a lot clearer in my mind now.

    HRM is on order, in the mean time I did my first run at the beginning of thos week (20 mins power walk warm up, 30 mins jog, 20 mins power walk warm down). I stayed nose breathing the whole time and didn’t feel particularly tired but still ended up with quite sore muscles for a few days after. Is this likely because I strayed into anaerobic? Or just that my leg muscles are still getting used to the extra intensity?
    I’ve been hiking 8 hours a week (over 2 sessions) for the last couple of years so my body is used to a bit of exertion. Perhaps I should be doing a mixture of waling and running intervals at this stage.



    Shashi on #52239


    Looks like the walk-jog-walk session was low to moderate intensity and not high intensity/anaerobic.

    There might have been other factors like change in terrain, higher pace, fatigue, food, etc. that might have contributed to sore muscles. You might find this UA article on recovery helpful.

    As you said, it might be that your legs are getting used to extra intensity. So, start small and make a note of how you feel and the number of days it takes for you to recover. It will help in gradually increasing your training volume and avoiding injuries.

    wjcdean on #52322

    Thanks again for an incredibly useful response, it’s great having this forum as a place to be able ask questions.

    So my HRM arrived yesterday (polar h9), and I went out to give it a whirl running a 3 mile circuit around my local park, there’s definitely a bit of a hill on it, but I was surprised to see that slowing myself right down from last week (where I was doing 35mins for 3 miles/5km) to a 4mph jog (45mins for same circuit), my heart rate was consistently in the 150-170bpm range. Which was surprising, as I was not out of breath whatsoever and feel 100% today.

    Presumably this signifies that I am super aerobically deficient and I need to back off the jogging and just get out walking regularly for a few weeks?

    I know the right answer is to do an AeT test, but all the gyms are closed in the UK due to covid and I live in a hilly area so it’s a bit tricky. Would doing two laps of the park give meaningful results as the course is the same on both halves of the workout?

    wjcdean on #52329

    Aha, I think I have the answer (thanks to the capillary density section on page 115 of TftNA), looks like it’ll get better over the next month-or-so and then I can start zone training properly once my capillaries regrow and reinflate after a year of being a lockdown sloth.

    Misters House and Johnston were clearly not prepared for someone as lazy as me when they wrote the book… I think I need a transition period to get into the main transition period, ha!

    Shashi on #52341


    Just to confirm, are you using the heart rate monitor with a chest strap to track heart rate?

    Initially, for my AeT workouts, I could barely jog and had to walk most of the time. I did my AeT test on a treadmill and got an AeT of 125. The AeT gradually increased over the next few months and then I was able to jog for the duration of the entire workout. If you continue with the low-intensity walk-jog workouts you will see an improvement over few weeks and can do an AeT test outdoors.

    Garret on #52401

    You don’t need a big lap or loop for an AeT test.

    Any flatish segment that you can repeat will do perfectly – just make sure you get a complete hour at your test AeT HR.

    A short segment is great because you don’t have the problem of not having completed a full lap once the hour is up.

    I don’t have any long route that flat enough for AeT tests so I just run repeats of a 2km segment that has a 20 m elevation loss/gain. It’s never to much more to complete my final lap once I hit the hour mark.

    Perhaps your park has a playing pitch you could run laps around ?

    The polar H9’s a great choice, I’ve found mine to be flawless.

    – Garret

    wjcdean on #52497

    Shashi, yes that’s with a chest strap.

    I’m only 2 weeks in having not done any running for the last decade and only doing weekend walks (albeit traipsing around the muddy English countryside with a a bit of up and down). Our gyms open in 2 weeks so I’ll do an AeT test then.

    For me at the moment I’m just trying to slowly increase volume and get my knees a bit stronger before launching into this properly. I’m slightly wary of even doing an hour run for the test at the moment having had slightly dodgy knees in the past (although as you say, maybe walking is the answer at the moment anyway!).

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