Training With No Imminent Objective

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  • #9882

    I am coming to the end of my current training cycle with a climb of Rainier in June. I would like to climb Denali in 3-4 years time. I think I need that much time to really develop the base of fitness I will need to not waste my time and money on Denali.

    Real mountaineering objectives are tough in the near furture for me because I live out east, my kids are young and I am building a new business. I had a lot of fun recently running a trail race and doing the devils path. I think that I can reasonably fill the void of mountaineering with fun hiking objectives out east and working on my trail running between now and Denali. From what I’ve been reading here these seem like my best options to build that base over the next few years.

    I expect to put in about 160 hours over 6 months getting ready for Rainier. That is reasonably the max amount of time I have for training (ie around 300 hours per year). I dont imagine I will be able to put in any more time in the next few years as my business grows.

    How can I structure my training with the constraint of time while still progressing to my goal of Denali? How do I progress aerobic fitness when I realistically don’t think I can spend more hours on training? What skills or fitness goals should I be focusing on in my lead up time to Denali to be rock solid when I get there?

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    Anonymous on #9893

    First, congrats on thinking about this well in advance.

    Second, if you can consistently put in 300 structured hours per year, I think you’ll be ahead of the typical climber out there that recreationally goes by feel.

    I recommend using the guidelines in TFtNA as a template for each year’s training. Scale the hours and proportions per intensity so that it fits into a 300-hour training year. Have intermediate objectives to train for each year.

    If you can stick with a structured plan, you’ll see gains. However, at some point, 300 hours won’t be enough anymore. Once you adapt to that volume, it will become maintenance. All athletes have to gradually, continually increase the stimulus.

    At that point, the temptation will be to add a greater proportion of high intensity training into the mix to make up for the volume you need. Many think of it as making up for lost time, but don’t get sucked into it. In reality, it makes your fitness live on borrowed time.

    I doubt that the average climber gets in 300 hours per year, so you’ll be well ahead of the game. Just make a plan and stick to it, and follow the TFtNA guidelines for what to do when.

    I hope that helps.

    Anonymous on #9900

    A couple more thoughts:

    * Rainier will be a good test to see if your current training and base are sufficient;
    * Down the road, closer to Denali, you may want to hire a coach. Once your volume has peaked (based on life constraints) a coach may be able to help you squeeze more out of those hours.

    Ptaylor on #9907

    Thank you Scott,

    I very much appreciate your insight. Funny becuase my first inclination was to increase intensity, even with all I have read in TFNA. Thanks for reiterating that is a path I should avoid.

    300 hours per year is really asperational, but based on what I have put in for Rainier. If I have significant enough objectives throuhout the year I should be able to reach that number each year.

    I looking forward to see how I do on Rainier, considering two years ago I had to turn around at the top of the cleaver. I was stumbling up the cleaver and made the call that it just wasn’t safe enough for me to continue in the state I was in. I attribute 80% of that or more to lack of fitness and the rest to altitude, sleep and mental prepardeness. That is a beast of a mountain (for me anyways) and I can’t wait to test my newly earned fitness. I think I’m ready this time, just hope the weather cooperates.

    I guess I’m going to have to firgure out what to do about putting in more time in the furture. It might be that I can tolerate more training physically becuase as I am going through this second training cycle my recovery times are getting better. It could be that as I progress through more training cycles I might be able to cut back on sleep and still be recovered. But I’m not really counting on that as an option becuase I’ve found sleep to be an important part of tolerating the training load.

    Your suggestion of considering a coach is great advice and I thankfully know where to find the perfect coaches for the job. Funny becuase I feel like having a coach seems so strange for me as such an out of shape amature, but it will make much more sense as I’m getting closer becuase now I understand the committment it takes to succeed on these objectives.

    Thanks again for your thoughts and I’ll report back here as to how Rainier goes in a month’s time.

    Anonymous on #9920

    “Funny because I feel like having a coach seems so strange for me as such an out of shape amateur…”

    I started seriously training in 2013 (although I thought I had trained before…) If I had hired a coach it would have saved me a lot of time by avoiding blind alleys and wasted effort. The memories of my mistakes are vivid, and they now serve me well, but I’d be further ahead if I had started off with direct supervision and programming.

    A ceiling of volume is eventually encountered by everyone. (The pros have the comfort in knowing that their ceiling is the humanly-possible ceiling.) So the “what now?” question happens to everyone at some point once increases in volume are no longer possible. I think that’s when outside expertise is of real value because you can perhaps still squeeze out some extra gains from the volume you and your life can handle.

    As said though, those squeezed gains will likely come from smart programming, not a whole-hog “investment” in too much intensity for too long, which is always a tempting, yet ineffective, option.

    Ptaylor on #10311

    I am happy to report all my hard work with a structured TFNA program really paid off on my climb this past weekend. Unfortunately, we were turned at 13,500 for weather officially. We were the only ones on the Ingraham Direct route, if you can believe that for a Saturday morning summitt attempt and were able to make the most of a slim weather window. Unofficially, I think too many people were struggling for the guides to feel confident when expecting weather on the way down.

    I felt great for most of the way at the guides pace. I felt like i was cruzing in zone 2 for the most part only going into zone 3 maybe 4 when speeding up for short streches. Once we passed 12,400, i really started to feel the altitude and maybe was working more in zone 3 but still felt like i had more then enough in the tank the get to the summit and down with solid legs. Thanks for the amazing structure provided by TFNA! It made a world of difference compared to my last attempt.

    FYI, my CTL peaked in the mid 70 about 3-4 weeks before climb after which I slowly tapered to around 65 immediately prior to the climb. So the mid 70 CTL I have seen cited here for a Rainier like objective seems to have been about right for me, although I can’t confirm that becuase I didn’t have an oppotunity to go to the top, only the absolute conviction that I would have summitted if we went for the top.

    Next training cycle I’m going to gear towards ice climbing as I would like to develop those skills to try more interesting and moderate routes.

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