I was very active on this forum in 2020/2021. I have had a up and down journey since then and I wanted to share.
I was a division one athlete in college and an active outdoor athlete most of my life. I am built like a rugby player, 5’10” and weighing 210+ rather than 160lbs like many rock climbers. In 2019, when I was 38yo, I had a week long climbing trip in the Bugaboos. It was the first time in my life that I realized I couldn’t do things off-the-couch anymore, age had caught up to me. We did Pigeon Spire and a minor 4th class scramble, but the backpack in, with a week-long backpacking weight and trad gear totaling 55lbs basically killed us. Then each climb destroyed us (they have long glacial approaches). Basically we had to rest every other day and we couldn’t do Bugaboo spire and our other goals due to our inability to climb every day. It was incredibly disappointing. I knew I now needed to train just to do the things I had always done off-the-couch. I spent some time looking at programs and finally read TftNA during early covid and began training fall of 2020.
I bought the mountaineering course as I had vague dreams of some big peaks. I went from an Aet of 133, basically walking, to an Aet of 165, 5% of my Ant, running quite fast. In process, I became a runner, which I loved in High School but had not been successful maintaining since then. Spring 2021 I was in the best shape since college, I had an CTL of 75 and was feeling great. When I got to the heavy ME workouts I started feeling like they were too much, I was not headed to Denali or the Himalaya. I just backpack, climb, BC ski, bike, and do big ridge link-ups. I was advised by a forum member to drop the heavy carries and so I bought Mike Foote’s big vert program and started considering a mountain 50k. I was basically obsessed w Training Peaks and this forum (I tend to go hard when I pick up new hobbies). Of course this waned and I vacationed in Mexico and Portland had a bunch of 115 degree days and I fell off the wagon. I also felt that training for a 50k was a little too much, with the two long runs per week.
Since my high point of 75CTL, I have waxed and waned several time. But despite my CTL sometimes plummeting, I have always felt like my aerobic endurance underneath it all was stronger than the 42-day average CTL would indicate. I proved this by suddenly climbing Orizaba in February 2022 when my CTL was only 30. This was one of the hardest things I had ever done, mostly due to the elevation (close to 19k). But we did it and that made my dream of higher goals.
Knowing that the heavy carries of the mountaineering program are too much (I am not going on any big expeditions) and that the double long run days are too much (I don’t think the time requirement to run 50ks is worth it to me), I am seeking sustainability and long-term health goals. I am not sure what this looks like and would invite any suggestions. My current thinking is: when I am really out of shape use the mountaineering plan’s first 12 weeks and when my long runs get above 14 miles, transition to the Big Vert program, but use 15 miles as my “goal race” rather than a 50k.
Currently I am back to 50CTL, I feel like this is my golden range, it feels good, but doesn’t have the time requirement that 75 CTL requires. Sustainably, I feel like 2-3 easy runs, one long run, and two gym or hill sessions a week are doing the job. In the fall before ski season I do some serious hill repeats as I find the downhill running really mimics downhill skiing better than anything. Before volcano season in the spring I do some heavy ME workouts which I find helps me run up Mt Hood fairly quick. Before Rocktober I do some big moderate rock laps at Smith. I kinda cut and paste parts of the Mountaineering versus Big Vert plans depending on where I am at. I feel like I have internalized the content and theory of TftNA and can’t thank Scott and Steve and Killian enough for their efforts getting this information to the masses. If anyone resonates w this journey of general fitness for mountain fun, rather than massive expensive international goals, and if anyone has any insights to add, I would love to hear!!
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