What comes next?

  • Creator
  • #5078

    I’ve been following Luke Nelson’s 20 Week Ultra plan, which is awesome. I’m about 13 weeks in now and I am super grateful that the time was taken to put this plan together. The idea is to run an ultra or marathon (or a few) in July/August, but mostly I’m looking to use the fitness to help with some long traverses in the Sierra and Tetons.

    I feel fit, healthy, and am excited for every training day, which makes me wonder…what am I going to do with myself when it’s over!? I suppose I’m curious how fellow endurance/climber people approach building an annual plan. Obviously after such a structured 20 weeks, I’ll want to just have a bunch of fun in the hills, reclaim my social life, and not feel chained to my HR monitor. How long do ya’ll enjoy that honeymoon period before you get back to work? What does that work look like? Do you just switch sports for a few months? What’s a good approach for off-season aerobic maintenance? Is there such as thing as an off-season?

    Okay going running now bye.

Posted In: Mountain Running

  • Keymaster
    Steve House on #5093

    Hi Jason,
    Glad you’re enjoying the plan so much. Great to hear!

    You ask good questions. And I think we all feel the same way after a long block of training. In terms of taking a break and getting your life back–yes. Definitely take time to do that.

    But what I recommend is that you continue the process you’ve already started, think about the next goal. Here is a great passage in an interview I read this morning that Mark Synnott did with Alex Honnold:

    Did you think about anything other than rock climbing while you were going up the wall?

    During all the easy terrain, in the middle, through the Monster and up to the Spire, I was thinking about random stuff—the whole village of people who have supported me on this. I got an email from (friend and climbing partner Conrad Anker) this morning. So I was thinking about Conrad and his whole ethos of ‘be kind, be good, be happy’.

    And I was also thinking in terms of life goals. This has been my biggest life goal for years. And the other one is to climb 9a—to sport climb real hard. (Editor’s note: 9a refers to one of the highest rated, most physically demanding levels of sport climbing.) So I’m halfway up the wall and thinking it’s time to focus on 9a. It’s so exciting to work on something hard.

    So you already have a new goal?

    It’s been a strategy the whole time I’ve worked on El Cap is to look past it, so that it’s not just all this one moment. To think about what’s beyond, what other stuff I’m excited about. So this just feels like a semi-normal day.

    Otherwise you’re kind of setting yourself up for a major letdown?

    You don’t want to put that much pressure on yourself where everything in my life focuses on this one moment. This has been my big focus for years and my big dream for years, but I would like to climb at my physical limits and step away from adventure for a little while.

    And you do that with a rope.

    I’m pretty stoked to not be focusing on free solo projects for a while.

    The full interview is here

    I think Alex is onto something really important there. And I can say now, looking back at my own climbing, that I did not have that “next goal” ready to go right after climbing Nanga Parbat’s Rupal Face in 2005. It took me a few years to figure out what I wanted to do next. I had some other projects, Kunyang Chish, some routes in the Canadian Rockies, but they didn’t fire me up the way the Rupal had. I planned to go to K2 in 2010 and it was while training for that climb, and probably at my peak life-time fitnesss that I was injured in a fall on Mount Temple. That put an end to my (physical) progression as an alpinist. I want to emphasize the value of Alex’s mindset here. Have a big goal, work towards it diligently, but have that next thing in mind. To steal Jim Collins’ phrase here, that’s how you go from good, to great.

    Mariner_9 on #5115

    FWIW, here are my answers. If I’m doing it wrong, hopefully others will correct me! 🙂

    “I suppose I’m curious how fellow endurance/climber people approach building an annual plan.”

    My approach was to use TFNA and stretch out the Muscular Endurance phase of the Base Period (as the book says gains from Max Strength tend to plateau after around eight weeks, it didn’t make sense to extend that phase). After factoring in some trips and knowing that I will likely miss a week or two over the course of the year due to illness (commute and office work are great for picking up colds), my plan roughly covers the full year.

    “How long do ya’ll enjoy that honeymoon period before you get back to work?”

    Over the last two years, I took about two to three weeks off after what was, for me, a big trip in the winter.

    “Is there such as thing as an off-season?”

    I guess this depends in part on the sport. There are two ski seasons a year and if I were planning a trip to Chile/Argentina during the northern hemisphere summer, I would try to structure my training to take that into account. As to switching sports – hiking in the spring/summer/fall for me and snowboarding in the winter (both of them if possible!).


    Luke Nelson on #5117

    I am also super stoked to hear that you are enjoying the plan. I think you will really enjoy the preparation when you start tackling your planned goals. In regards to your question, what’s next really depends on you and what you hope to accomplish. I typically take a small break from structured running once a year for 3-4 weeks at the end of the running season and then start building again. You will need to consider your goals for next year and for the years that follow. The 20 week training plan will give you some of the tools you would need to build programming on your own, or you could consider getting more specific with a more detailed or custom training plan.

    I know that there are lifetime’s worth of objectives, races or link-ups that could be done, and once you decide what you want to accomplish you can certainly determine what you need to do to get there.

    I find it very helpful to have several layers of goals regarding performance in the mountains to keep engaged in training and to keep stoke high. Similar to what Steve mentioned regarding Alex, I think about the next project during or sometimes before the current project is done. For example, I am preparing for a large link-up in Colorado this fall. I am using two smaller, but significant objectives in Idaho and Utah to test fitness and to put in long days in similar terrain. Part of this preparation is also serving as a base for running Hardrock next summer (if the lottery gods are kind), as well as a similarly difficult multi-day mountain link up next fall.

    These multiple goals or objectives keep me on track and focused.

    I wish you the best in the next 7 weeks of training and in trying to determine where and what you will attempt next.

    Luke Nelson

    Jason on #5118

    Wow. My dudes. I’m so glad you all took the the time to answer.

    Steve, your methodology, writing, and accomplishments have been huge for me and my climbing over the last few years. I can’t thank you enough for being humble enough to share your knowledge and time with all of us.

    Luke, I’ll take the layered goals approach to heart, as it’s something I’ve never thought too hard on. This is the first season that I’ve primarily focused on running, so it’s been really helpful to follow along with your 20 week plan.

    I owe you guys a beer or some pizza or something.

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