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Episode 6 of the Winter 22-23 Season

In this episode, Steve House and Alyssa Clark return with guest, Chantelle Robitaille, on the base period of training for Mountaineering. They discuss the importance of the base period, the main principles behind base training as well as the strength component. They explore how to work around limited gym access as well as adaptations if athletes live in flat areas. Steve explains his own experience with weighted uphill climbs and training muscular endurance for upper and lower body. In closing, the trio explores how to differentiate a mountaineering plan from a more technical alpine plan and what these differences should look like within the training. Join in to learn about the crucial period of training that helps athletes reach their best in the mountains.

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00:06.56 Steve Welcome to the Uphill Athlete podcast where our mission is to elevate and inspire all mountain athletes through education and celebration. My name is Steve House and I will be your host today along with Alyssa Clark. We’re continuing our mountaineering series today with a familiar voice, our director of coaching. Chantelle Robitaille, welcome Chantelle. 00:27.81 Chantelle Thanks Steve, hi Alyssa 00:30.29 Alyssa Hey! how’s it going? 00:33.21 Steve In this episode, we focus on the base period of training and mountaineering training. Chantelle, can you start us off with what base training is and why it’s important? 01:07.63 Chantelle Absolutely, I think the first thing to start off with is probably people may know base training by different names. I think collegiate athletes are probably amongst all athletes, those who are most familiar with the term base training. That’s where they would typically be building plenty of miles or time on their feet at a low slow effort level to prepare for their race season and then they would start layering on other work like strength work, intervals and other high intensity work. Probably a more common name that it’s been known by in popular blogs, social media, etc. over the last couple of years is zone 2. We can’t look around very far without seeing zone 2 being mentioned, so that’s another way to describe this period. This base training period is where we are working to improve our work capacity and improve our resistance to fatigue. So really, what we’re looking to do is build our endurance through this type of lower effort, slower effort training which doesn’t always feel the sexiest. But it’s probably the most important of all the training that we do because it really sets a good base for everything else that we need to do to prepare for mountaineering objectives. 02:33.20 Alyssa That’s a great answer and just to add on to that I always call this section the unsexy work section. But it’s really where you get the meat and potatoes if you eat meat. It’s really where you need that consistency in this period even though it feels like it’s so far out it doesn’t really matter. It really is such an important part of our training it really sets us up with a great foundation. It’s like the base of the pyramid. So, Steve, what are the 3 main principles to follow in base training? 03:14.19 Steve Well I think it’s important first to kind of piggyback on what you were saying Alyssa, is to really emphasize that the base period is where we are forging our metabolism and later on is the fun. As we call it the more specific periods will be sharpening that and the base period is so important precisely because this is when you’re actually baking the cake. This is when you’re actually forging the tool. The period before this with transition, I want to just go back to that for a second. That’s the period where you’re basically just making sure you’re fit enough and healthy enough to train and everybody needs to go back through that and make sure you address various problems. We’ve talked about getting things going, getting things set up, and understanding where you are strength wise, endurance-wise and by now the time you get to the base period. All that is figured out and it’s time to just get to work like you said. I think that I always wanted to make a t-shirt about this, but I’ve never quite figured out how it’s going to look. Maybe somebody in the audience will have an idea about continuity with gradualness and modulation and those 3 things. Continuity is what you said a minute ago that is like the consistency of doing the training at the right intensity and with the right time intervals. 04:48.93 Steve Okay, we can talk about that. That’s sort of the idea of training density gradualness is that you gradually increase the training load over time. Our bodies adapt to the stress we put upon them. So if we are training for mountaineering and we’re hiking 5 hours a week if we just hike 5 hours every week, we’ll never be able to hike 15 hours a week because we will never have adapted to 6,7,8,9,10,11,12,13 and 14 hours a week so that’s the gradualness and that’s really important. Modulation essentially is a fancy word for taking recovery when you need it and in the base period the traditional I would say kind of most common and Chantelle can speak more to this probably than I can but the most common sort of layout is sort of three weeks on and then one week. Let’s say off where you do roughly half of your volume is kind of the rule of thumb for that recovery week it is half of the previous week’s training volume. So that’s the modulation and the modulation happens over these little cycles of say four weeks sometimes that could be five weeks or six weeks but it also happens over the longer period. Modulation can also apply to the whole picture of a year’s training as well. But in this case I think we’ll restrict it to talking about the base periods since that’s the subject for today. 06:23.30 Alyssa Excellent and Chantelle already touched on this by calling this period the zone 2 period which has mixed reviews. But, personally I’ve always loved this. I love training zone 1 zone 2. It’s just kind of my bread and butter. But it’s definitely not the easiest thing for athletes who have lived much more in the high intensity area of exercise. It can feel very difficult to slow down and feel like you’re making progress. But how do we think about the distribution of this zone 1, zone 2 aerobic training volume in our base period? Are we putting in any anaerobic work or how is that brought into this training or is it not brought into this training? So I’d love to hear how we distribute this work. 07:23.85 Chantelle That’s a big question, and it kind of has that annoying coach answer it depends right? It depends who the person is, it depends what someone’s training looks like. If someone has been doing plenty of aerobic work over the last few months, years then their body is ready to handle perhaps a more varied distribution of intensity. However, if it’s someone who is new to training in general or new to having a structured training plan, I think particularly people who live in mountain towns are guilty of this. They go by what’s going on right? Oh I’ve got an opportunity to do some skiing today. I’ve got the opportunity to go running. I’ve got the opportunity to go hiking. So their intensity distribution is all over the place and when most people aren’t really thinking about going out and doing things from a training perspective everything they do is medium hard right? Everything’s medium hard so they’re not really working on their aerobic base with those types of activities and so. That’s why a lot of them may find this to be challenging to slow down a little bit and they’ve done plenty of work and plenty of exercise but they don’t really have a strong aerobic base. So when we think about uphill athletes one of the first things we do is try to figure out where someone is. And that’s why we usually start with our aerobic threshold test and we see what someone’s aerobic threshold is so that we can determine what is their zone 2 and what is their zone one. What does their aerobic work look like and then if we feel they’re capable, we will also want to do a test to see what their anaerobic threshold is. The most important thing is really looking at the difference between those two, what does that gap look like and if the the gap between their anaerobic threshold and their aerobic threshold is greater than 10 percent, then we know that that person definitely needs to be spending more time in zone one and zone 2 because that’s showing that their aerobic base is not very well-developed and you know the reason why it can be unsexy quote unsexy work. I love zone 1 and zone two myself as well, Alyssa but maybe that’s us as ultrarunners right, maybe the reason why it feels unsexy is because it takes quite a while to see results compared to when you’re doing high intensity work. If you’re doing intervals that are closer to your lactate threshold or even higher you’re going to see results from that training really quickly right in a matter of weeks. Compared to our zone 2 work where it can take a matter of months to start seeing some results. So it kind of depends on where someone is starting, what their objective is and how far away they are from their objective. 10:27.67 Steve I think that’s great and I would try to give people some, let’s say general rules here. I’ll just go off of our most popular training plan, the 24 week mountaineering training plan. And the first high-intensity workout is in week thirteen so you’ve done a full eight week transition period, four weeks of base period before you get any zone 3 higher intensity. So even then that week has about 11 hours of training and you’re only in zone 3 for less than 1 hour. I don’t remember exactly, but it’s like 45 minutes or 1 hour in that first Z3 interval workout and then there’s really only one of those per week. Pretty soon you have to start changing your strength training which we’ll get to in a moment and you’re going to be working on muscular endurance training and that is training that is very difficult or not difficult but takes time to recover from and for your body to absorb that strain. Training at stress and the resulting adaptation. So that’s a really long way of saying you don’t need that much Z3 for mountaineering training and you don’t need to do it until pretty late like halfway through a six-month training plan is when you might do your first workout. Then you’ll do them regularly for that second half of a six month training plan or work with a coach or something towards an objective, but it usually takes a while to get there. 12:09.25 Alyssa That makes a lot of sense. Steve too maybe put you on the spot a little bit and obviously your climbing was at a much higher level than us mortals, but where did anaerobic training fit into your base period when you were training for these big objectives. 12:34.20 Steve Yeah, it’s a great question and you know I would say that I mostly did this kind of training like a zone 3 interval kind of training in my specific period. Not even in my base period because especially when I was more focused in the latter part of my climbing career on really high altitude objectives. You just can’t go anaerobic. I mean if you’re above eighteen thousand feet you have half of an atmosphere of pressure. So you have essentially 50% of the oxygen available that you have at sea level in that sense so you know and if you’re climbing to a twenty seven thousand foot peak, it’s 25% of the sea level atmospheric pressure so it is all about aerobic at those high altitudes. If you’re climbing in the cascades or the Canadian Rockies or the Alps, it’s different like thirteen thousand feet is high, you have a lower atmospheric pressure, you have less oxygen available but there may be times where you need to kind of quote unquote sprint across or underneath some serac or you might need to move quickly and it might be useful. The other thing that I think is useful actually about zone 3 and or interval training in general is I like to think of it as strength training for the heart. It’s really good for the heart muscle. So there’s something to be said for that I don’t know maybe Chantelle knows more about like actually what the science says on that, but that was one area where I felt like you know that was a benefit. You are asking the heart to pump large volumes of water of blood very very quickly and make hard contractions in these harder intervals. So you’re just not doing it when you’re in zone one or two. 14:34.78 Alyssa Yeah I mean I set you up a bit for that question but you answered it to prove exactly the point that we’re trying to make is that even someone at the the sharp end of alpinism of mountaineering etc isn’t doing anaerobic work until after the base period which really emphasizes you’re going to be okay until the the specialization period. So thank you Steve, that’s helpful. Switching directions as I think that we preach zone 2 quite a lot, how do we look at strength training in the base period? How does it differ from other points of the program and what are the goals that an athlete should be trying to reach within this strength base period? Chantelle, I’d love for you to start us off on this. 15:29.97 Chantelle So if we think about the base period from an aerobic perspective, what we’re trying to do is set down a good Foundation. We’re kind of doing the same thing with strength here and our focus on strength training at this point in an athlete’s training program. It takes more of a supporting role. So think about strength training that has a focus on keeping you moving well rather than focus on building big muscles or building maximum strength like a bodybuilder might be training right? If we think about what is important for a mountaineer, we’re looking at aerobic capacity. Then strength is important right? They’ve got to be able to carry heavy packs and keep moving for many hours of the day and they’ve got to be able to move efficiently and if someone is not able to move efficiently, they’re going to be wasting a lot of energy. They’re going to be potentially putting themselves at risk for injury if they’re not moving. So that’s why the focus here is in a supporting role and I know if I think about some of the athletes we have in our current mountaineering group programs and they’re saying okay well I’m doing this following this Chamonix mountain fit program and I really like it and it’s teaching me a lot about how I move and where my weaknesses are. But, when can I get back to doing Crossfit? I have to keep bringing them back to the point of showing you where your weaknesses are and so we want to really look at what is really easy for all of us right? To train our strengths. But we really have to look at where those weaknesses are because those are the things that are going to cause us trouble down the line if we don’t pay attention to that. So maybe your weakness could be potentially your aerobic capacity right? It could be the way you move so make sure that you can identify whether you have any muscle weaknesses if you can potentially identify any movement impingements within your body. So maybe you find that your left hip moves well but your right hip doesn’t. Maybe you find that you have limited ankle flexibility. Maybe you find that when you are carrying your backpack on your weekend hikes, you’re constantly getting a sore neck or a sore lower back. Those are important things to notice during this phase and so what we’re looking at is trying to focus not only on how much weight you can move but actually how you’re moving your body and making sure that you’re moving well. Because if you have, let’s say a difference in your hips from left to right, it’s kind of like if your car has a tire that is underinflated, maybe it’s fine to drive on that underinflated tire for a day to the get you to the shop to put some more air in that tire or replace that tire. But, if you continually drive on that underinflated tire, it’s going to cause wear patterns on other tires and other parts of the car and the same thing happens with the human body. So that’s why we’re not looking to go super hard in the gym again, we’re looking at improving our aerobic capacity if we’re doing higher intensity and strength work. We are taking away the focus from the zone 2 work that we’re doing and so a lot of our programs were not bringing in any sort of strength work even that brings us into zone 3 until much later in the program. So those first eight weeks are really focused on the basics, to use your words Alyssa meat and potatoes kind of stuff. 19:38.55 Alyssa Steve do you have any follow up on that? 19:40.38 Steve I think everything Chantelle said is true and I want to just go back to you know, fundamental principles. What are we trying to achieve with strength training when we’re training towards a mountaineering objective to me. It’s two things, one of course we want to make sure that we don’t get injured and being strong is one of the best ways to make sure you’re not going to become injured climbing mountains. The other one is to unlock your full potential for mountaineering and to be able to climb and this strength training has just sort of near universal benefits for us across all of these questions that we have and in the base period of mountaineering strength training plan. You’ll typically do two types of strength training. You’ll do muscular endurance type of workout and we’ll talk about that in a minute but before that we typically do a max strength protocol. Specifically for the lower body, because mountaineering is obviously mostly legs and glutes. So it’s important to understand for example with whatever transition period strength you did and whether you’re using Chamonix Mountain Fit or just a general strength routine of your choosing, that Max Strength is really important because what it’s doing is teaching. It’s taking the muscle fibers that you’ve conditioned through the phase through the transition period strength and it’s teaching your body neurologically to fire them more together if that makes sense and so that’s part of the whole thing with max strength and lifting heavy. It’s actually not the way we do it and the way we approach it and the protocols that we give it’s absolutely not to get bigger or whatever and you do get stronger. Yeah, you’re not trying to get yoked and you do get stronger, but the reason you’re getting stronger is because of the neurological adaptations that your body is making through the max strength period and that’s the beauty of it. We’re not adding any weight. Or maybe we are but it’s minimal. You know like I’ve had athletes gain a pound or 2 but I mean we’re going to not talk about hypertrophy and and when it’s important to add muscle mass. We’ll talk about that on a different day but just leaving that aside for a moment. We’re just going to be focused on lifting heavy for the most simple words they can put to it and doing that so that our muscles that wire together fire together is the little phrase right? You’re teaching your legs to know the muscles in your legs so that those fibers that fire together and do the work. I think that that’s really important for mountaineering because one of and this also goes for runners if a runner’s listening to this because speed is a form of strength right? The power that you can exert is basically a function of the rate at which you can apply your strength and as Alyssa or I think Chantelel you said earlier all we’re doing with all of this is trying to become more resistant to fatigue and at the same time hopefully get faster. So that 10 hour day is an 8 hour day. That’s a massive difference in your safety and in your experience and you know that means you’re back before the conditions get too soft before the snowbridge over the crevasse softens and becomes a risk, all of these things. It’s not just for fun. There’s real important advantages to this kind of training. 24:03.23 Alyssa That’s something that I talk a lot about with phone consultations and with my own clients is in the mountains it does become a safety difference if you are able to be fit and to continue to have the strength to move when you’re fatigued. So I guess to point out the strength component where the fear of getting big as you’re doing the max strength I mean directly written in the book is a way to structure the reps and the rest sequence so that you don’t end up training like a bodybuilder. You really explicitly write it out and kind of take that fear off the table. Also, you’re probably not crushing hundreds of grams of protein a day. I mean you should have a high protein but there’s a really specific way that bodybuilders build this strength and we’re not doing that. 25:02.96 Steve Yeah, this is not hyper hypertrophy training. I just went through this with an athlete I’m coaching and in eight weeks she put on one pound but that was from one hundred and four to 105. 25:14.23 Chantelle Oh wow, It’s all relative. 25:14.84 Steve So it’s relative right? Like she’s pretty small and then she’s incredibly strong like she’s deadlifting 3X her body weight but she’s only putting on like a pound of muscle. Is that worth it for the value? What we’re going to get out of that in terms of her boost in Speed. That’s probably a good tradeoff in that case. 25:41.78 Chantelle I think with runners that’s definitely a big fear where they’re concerned about doing strength training and gaining weight and that it’s going to slow them down. I think just if you think about Alyssa to your point about mountaineers, the safety aspect if you’re able to move faster and spend less time being exposed to the elements and or less time on your summit push, you can have better awareness and all of those things you know safety is a big aspect and I would say the same for any of our listeners who are ultrarunners who are afraid of strength training. It’s the same thing. It’s actually not going to slow you down, it will benefit you and so many other ways you know injury prevention. Moving better and spending less time out on the trail. If you could finish Leadville let’s say in 25 hours versus 30 hours that’s a big difference not only in how you’re going to feel by the end of it. You know, dragging your carcass to the finish line. In the case of Leadville it also could mean a different buckle right? A big deal to a lot of people so it really does make a difference to be fitting the strength training in for all different types of athletes just the way that strength training looks and how it’s programmed or structured will look a little bit different. 27:18.78 Alyssa Excellent and we will get more into strength trading actually in an episode coming up with another amazing guest. So teaser alert. Steve, especially I mean we have a lot of athletes who might not have direct access to a gym to this type of equipment. I’m assuming that in your travels you may have ended up in places where you didn’t have a squat rack or a bar. Can you do this type of training without a gym and what might that look like? I guess specifically to you? How have you done this when you didn’t have a gym accessible? 28:05.97 Steve Yeah, I try to really discourage people from doing max strength workouts without a gym because a lot of times you know if for example, you’re doing back squats you know your progression is another two and a half pounds you know or five pounds you want to have that level of precision if possible because every week you want to be lifting it just a little bit heavier. When that’s not possible I think that the best tool I’ve kind of used in these situations is two things. One a backpack and a travel scale. So I take one of those little scales for weighing your luggage and the largest backpack and you can go out and you can fill it with whatever you have around that’s heavy whether that’s rocks or water bottles or whatever you can kind of dial it in and then you can do some kind of back squat or something with that. I’ve also used the same kind of backpack but used it in a goblet squat so like holding it kind of under my chin in front of my chest. And doing squats like that I actually really like the goblet squat a lot. It’s hard to do super heavy weights with that. But I think that the way the weight is held is for a lot of people. It feels very safe because it’s really easy to drop it in front of you. 29:36.23 Steve And it’s a really good = tool for developing that correct posture for doing back squats and other forms of lunges and all kinds of these bipedal strength movements. And yeah, so same thing using a backpack or something and then just kind of filling it with some weight and then holding it up in front of me. It can be really awkward and weird. But if you’re traveling or you’re off somewhere and that’s what you need to do then you’ve already decided that you’re going to do something uncomfortable and weird. So what’s one more thing? 30:14.98 Alyssa I think the point of that is it’s not ideal, but it’s possible like you if you want to do this as you said, it’s an uncomfortable weird thing, but you can make it happen. You don’t have to have the perfect setup to be doing good work. So we’ve gained our max Strength gains. How do we then take this and move into a different phase of what we call muscular endurance. I think people get really jazzed about muscular endurance because that feels like a piece of the puzzle that a lot of people don’t utilize. So Chantelle could you help us understand how we take these max strength gains and then translate them into our muscular endurance. 31:12.95 Chantelle Yeah, so if we think about Muscular Endurance, first of all what the heck is it? It’s the ability for someone to do a repetitive movement with a relatively high percentage of their max strength. So That’s why the max strength phase is so important because the muscular endurance phase kind of piggybacks onto that. So the better strength you are able to develop in the earlier phase then during the muscular endurance phase you’re focused on being able to do more work at a higher percentage of your maximum amount of strength. So this is also if you think about how we are training in our aerobic capacity. We are trying to do more work with less fatigue and so this is the same thing that we’re doing here. We are trying to improve our muscle endurance compared to trying to improve our aerobic system. So if you think about what you are going to need to do when you are out on a climb or out pursuing some objective or something like that. You’re going to think about moving around for a long time, probably carrying a good amount of weight. That’s why we want to practice some things that are going to be pretty similar to the demands of those activities. That’s why you’ll see in our plans we will have weighted hikes where we recommend a certain percentage of body weight on your back like Steve said. Sometimes you get creative when you’re putting rocks in the pack or water bottles and for those of you who have done it, it’s sometimes pretty fun if you’re doing it in an area where there are other people and they see you get to the top of the hill and empty your pack and start dumping out water bottles or pulling rocks out of your pack. But these are things that are getting closer to your objective. So we’re getting into some specificity here to think about now you’ve built this amount of strength. How are we going to use it and how are we going to make it practical and that’s where I think as you said Alyssa, a lot of athletes get pretty jazzed about this because it starts to kind of come together and make sense. Then they get to see how that strength work has really now paid off. 33:53.71 Alyssa And I think that part is it also starts to look like what they perceive they’re going to be doing on the mountain. You see all these amazing pictures of Steve running in these amazing mountains carrying these backpacks and it’s looking really heavy and hard. That’s a really exciting thing to see, and so I think that’s what they visualize and they see muscular endurance and they get really jazzed about it because they’re like okay I’m out of the gym where I was doing the back squats and all the things that most of us don’t necessarily love being in the gym that are mountain athletes. So now we have that image of being up on the mountain working hard and I think that’s really exciting for people so I can see why the appeal. But, what does muscular endurance look like specifically? We’re going to do the lower body then the upper body. How do you regulate intensity, steepness, the length of the climb, and the vertical gain within this. 35:01.73 Chantelle I’m gonna let you start that one off Steve. 35:12.12 Steve Before I get into the practical application, I just want to emphasize something that Chantelle said that was really smart and clear and that is this concept that you know muscular endurance. You can even look at the word right? It’s 2 components. There’s the strength of the muscle and the endurance of the muscle and in Muscular Endurance Training, we’re sort of combining the 2 and the stronger the muscle is the less relative strength it needs to complete a certain task relative to its absolute strength. And the more endurance training the muscle has, the more contractions it can sustain or complete before it gets fatigued. Muscular endurance is sort of combining those two and I think one of the things that also explains why this is so much fun is that it is the most trainable quality we have. You do see incredible gains really quickly. Especially if you’ve been diligent and done your whole transition and base period correctly. It’s sort of like the forging example again. You’ve forged the tool and the better job you did on that forging process. The better the end product will be right? We’re at the end phase now where we’re doing the polishing and the sharpening and so on. But this is exactly why it’s so fun because you’re really getting the shape of what you’re doing because you are doing exactly what looks like training and the way you progress it is really pretty simple. You can progress in multiple ways typically with most athletes that haven’t done a lot of this, I’ll start them with 10% of body weight which is usually too light. Don’t take that as a prescription to just go out and start with 20% of body weight if you’ve never done this because you need to get a little used to it and one week is not a big deal. But start with something like ten, fifteen percent of your body weight and go out and do it for an hour or so. And then start to ramp up a little bit every week and you don’t want to you can’t really do this workout more than once every say seven days if you’re recovering well and as the workouts get harder that might even space them out to ten days. It makes sense and it’s logical and I coach athletes to a little heavier than what they’re going to carry on the mountain. So if they’re going to Denali, they might have a 65 pound backpack, I might let them go up to 70 pounds but there’s no need to go to a hundred. You don’t just need to kind of keep going and going and going because then you know you’re training something that you don’t need. So that’s not necessary. That’s the one way to progress it. The other way you can progress is with duration so you start to make the intervals longer. When I have done these I’ve mostly done them in places outside where I either was carrying rocks or carrying water and I would basically be doing laps up some sort of usually I didn’t do them on a trail because most trails aren’t steep enough. Usually I just wore mountain boots that were old mountain boots and went up through the woods or up the slope to get the steepest fall line I could. I also went to another really excellent place to do this if you live in a ski town, especially in the summer, but even in the winter it is on a ski slope. A steep ski run is a great place to do these workouts but all that said the duration can be ramped up. And so, there’s a lot of thought and debate that can go into exactly what those durations are but they’re probably starting somewhere around an hour and if I remember right? You know some of my longest workouts in this way were like four hours where I was doing like 6 laps or so and those were exhausting. Really hard workouts. 39:51.67 Alyssa And then what’s the ideal length of vertical you should be hitting by the end of this period? 40:02.70 Steve With a muscular endurance workout, it really depends on your goal. 40:04.92 Alyssa Yes. 40:19.70 Steve So for example if you’re going to go climb Mount Rainier you know that the summit day is four thousand vertical feet. What do you need to be able to do in training to climb summit day on Rainier? Well do you need to be able to do eight thousand feet with 40% of body weight. No, that’s way too much honestly the training does not need to be harder than the event. For somebody climbing Rainier I’m probably going to have them do something like 2000 vertical feet with like 20% of body weight. And that’s going to be great, but what I may be doing is backing up 2 of those workouts on successive days right before they go. So on a Saturday they’re doing maybe 2 hours and 2 hours total, so there’s some warm up and cool down in there. So that’s maybe 90 minutes of actual ME workout and then maybe on the next day they’re doing 3 hours so two and a half hours of ME and that’s going to be plenty. 41:26.89 Alyssa Definitely I mean one of the principles from ultra running is you don’t go run a hundred miles to train for a hundred miler. That’s not going to work. Yeah, so not all of us are lucky enough to live with a ski mountain accessible. 41:44.46 Alyssa Chantalle, can you give us some examples of what people can do if they don’t live in the mountains? Because I know we have a lot of clients who are not quite as vertically gifted as others. 41:57.40 Chantelle That’s a common question we get isn’t it? That’s where you have to just get a little bit creative. So a couple of the ways would be doing box Step Ups. Maybe there’s a box in your gym or if you don’t have access to a specific gym box, you don’t need that necessarily. You could have a bench at home or something like. The good old ah stair stepper mill is a good one. Our stair climber. You could crank up the incline on your treadmill. A lot of the treadmills nowadays have pretty good incline that you can get up to so take advantage of that if you have access to that either at home or at a gym. . For those that maybe don’t have access to a gym, if someone lives somewhere that is kind of inconvenient to get to a gym they have to get creative. So I’ve seen people do climbing stairwells in taller buildings, stairwells in parking garages. 43:06.61 Chantelle I once had an athlete who lived in Florida and he would get his vertical by climbing the stairs on those overpasses that go over the road. That’s where he was getting his vertical so you might have to get a little bit creative and obviously it’s not going to be as fun as it might be in the mountains but I like to think about it you get a lot of bang for your buck here because you can think about it as being some really good mental training as well. 43:38.20 Alyssa Absolutely I like to say that to clients too where it’s like think how much more fun it’s going to be when you’re out on Rainier and experiencing all of that and you know that you can go up and down on a box for 2 hours at a time you’re gonna be great. 43:55.64 Chantelle Yeah, if you can go up and down on a box for 2 hours at a time. There’s a lot of stuff you can do in the real world. Yeah, absolutely definitely. 44:01.99 Steve Yeah, that’s way harder and hats off to those that can do it. 44:07.99 Alyssa Yeah, and when it’s blowing snow and not warm and the conditions are going crazy. You’re like I could be on a box right now so things could be worth it. I totally agree. 44:18.73 Chantelle Yep, that’s right. 44:18.75 Steve I once coached an athlete who was an engineer on a cargo ship so he did his ME workouts in the stairs inside the ship which was huge right? So I can’t remember how many floors it was but I want to say it was like 8 floors or something. The GPS stats it was crazy because of course the ship is moving and the ship is just moving forward. It’s also moving up and down and he’s moving up and down so a complete disaster trying to figure out the data I just had to sort of throw the data away. 44:54.50 Chantelle Yeah, that would be tough. 44:56.26 Alyssa But I bet he did really well on the actual climb. 45:01.32 Steve Yeah, he was motivated. He went and climbed. What he liked about that job was that he was a ship engineer for like one crossing and then took whatever a chunk of time and then he had a big chunk of time off. So that worked out so he had time to go climbing and because he was always going to Asia he was going climbing in the Himalaya a lot and it worked out really well for him. 45:22.15 Chantelle Oh nice. 45:24.84 Alyssa That’s awesome. That’s super cool. So we’ve talked a lot about the lower body but mountaineering you do have to carry a heavy pack. You know you do have to have upper body strength and endurance. So how do we go about training muscular endurance for the upper body? Steve if you want to take this on. 45:45.82 Steve Yeah, absolutely well there is free and it’s one of my personal favorite workouts as a free gym-based muscular endurance workout on the website. We can link it in the show notes. You can do muscular endurance training that way and it’s more of like a circuit style and it includes things like box step ups but it also includes upper body work and there’s a lot of different ways to do that. We also have developed things for people going to Denali and Everest. We’ve developed essentially a workout on a rope because people were coming back to us and saying like yeah my legs were great but I had to move the jumar up the rope and my arm was exhausted. We got to come up with a way to train that and so all of these things kind of can be done with some sort of creativity I guess for lack of a better word, but some of the classic ways of course are just to go do long climbs outside. Go to the climbing gym. Use a rotating climbing wall like a treadwall. We developed this exercise where I would kind of set a treadmill on a really slow speed and then walk my hands basically to make a plank position on the floor with my hands on the treadmill and just set it. It’s really hard, so you have to set the treadmill for really slow, but it’s a great ME workout. Every hotel gym has a treadmill right? 47:18.14 Chantelle That sounds extremely hard. 47:29.89 Steve So that’s a good little tool. Don’t expect that you can do it for many minutes at a time though. It’s a very interesting exercise actually, but yeah I think there’s a lot of things the first time I actually saw this going on was years ago. I want to say I don’t even know what year it was. I wasn’t even 20 probably, so this is over thirty years ago. I remember being at Smith Rock climbing and seeing this top american climber at the time and the first american to establish a five fourteen was this guy named Scott Franklin. Scott was on this 5.13A with a weight vest he’s on Churning in the Wake it’s called. I remember just being blown away and he was just throwing laps on this five thirteen and wearing a weight vest. I didn’t know what that was but it was muscular endurance training. He probably didn’t know what it was but he from wherever put some ideas together and did that and later became the first American to climb a five fourteen and just around the corner from where he was training. I think that we should never discount creativity and kind of understanding these basic concepts and then applying it. 49:02.42 Steve And new and creative ways to help us accomplish what we want to do. 49:05.54 Alyssa I’ll be in a hotel this weekend and I really want to try treadmill handwalking. 49:11.25 Chantelle I know I was thinking the same thing after this meeting. I’m going to turn on my treadmill to make it really slow. Ask for a spotter and give it a try. 49:19.19 Steve I mean nothing really happens, you just kind of fall on your face. 49:24.52 Alyssa I think I might wear gloves too because the treadmills are not clean, I know. 49:28.69 Chantelle Oh true. Yeah, it’s a good point. 49:31.00 Steve They’re not that’s actually very true. They’re not clean at all. Some of them are really dirty. Chantelle’s at home is probably nice and clean. 49:40.52 Chantelle Mine’s probably not too bad. But I guess if it’s in a gym or in a hotel getting lots of use. I wouldn’t want to see a blue light on one of those with all the different people sweating all over them. 49:56.28 Alyssa Yeah I don’t think I would either. So the last point that I want to touch on and we won’t go too deeply into it because we’re going to separate mountaineering from alpinism because we’ll talk about alpinism later on. But if you were looking at a mountaineering objective versus an alpine objective, how would you differentiate the base period for the two of them? What would be some of the differences that you would see and go ahead Chantelle. 50:27.72 Chantelle I think the main thing to think about is the differences between the two. With mountaineering the main concern is overcoming the conditions at the high altitudes right? That’s the one big thing obviously getting up the mountain is a big one but you’re really thinking about those conditions. When we’re thinking about alpinism, we’re thinking about those same conditions as with mountaineering but we also have the additional technical challenges that are involved with those types of objectives. So then we’re thinking about rock climbing and ice climbing, potentially both, you know mixed climbing as well in some of those objectives as well. So when we think about a training plan for those two, there will be a lot of similarities but it will be those specific aspects to the training that will be different to make sure that the athlete is prepared for the specific challenges of that objective. You could have the same mountain that might be considered a mountaineering objective in one season but an alpinism objective in another season based on the technicalities and changes at different times of the year. 51:49.73 Alyssa Definitely in different route selection I mean there’s a tremendous amount of variation of technicality that you can get depending on what route you choose. 52:00.67 Chantelle Yeah, so you want to take those into consideration and then also again look at the individual themselves right? How much experience do they have with doing that type of objective in the past. What’s their comfort level? What’s their experience level? Where are there and again coming back to what we talked about in the beginning you know when we’re looking at assessing an athlete. What are their strengths and challenges and making sure that we of course want to continue building those strengths but we really want to hone in on what those challenges are. Those high mountain objectives, the consequences are high and we want to make sure that someone is as prepared as possible in all realms from the technical aspect to their aerobic capacity aspect to their strength and even Muscular endurance aspect all those things matter but they’re going to be a little bit different. 53:01.76 Steve Yeah, and I would just add that there’s 4 main things that we can talk about and that is going to lead to, being a strong and successful mountaineer and one is aerobic efficiency, one is your speed and speed is related to strength as we discussed, another is your muscular endurance capacity and then the other one is your technique. Even just for the easiest route on Mont Blanc or Mount Rainier there is a massive difference between someone who’s super efficient in their technique and somebody who is not. It’s that factor alone if you never train that you can be the strongest and I’ve seen that in my guiding career I saw this so many times you’d see people who are super strong and you would see people who are super weak and depending on where their technique was on that continuum. They would either do well or not and that can override everything so let’s not forget that we can’t train that in the gym but we can gain experience and so that’s important to function to factor in. 54:15.20 Alyssa I think that’s such a great point I mean we were out ski touring this past weekend and just watching the difference of people going uphill those with a kick turn technique that wasn’t dialed in were working so much harder. So they might be really fit, but the expenditure of energy was so much higher because of their inefficiency of technique. So I think that’s a really important point to make and just goes to the point that you really have to work on the skills set as well. 54:34.85 Steve Yeah. 54:43.11 Chantelle Yeah, it’s all important. 54:44.99 Steve Yeah, you can hear it. You can hear it like they’re coming up the skin track they’re like slapping and lifting their feet way up and I did that too like I’m not putting anyone down. We all went through that, but I didn’t learn. I just did thousands of hours of it until my body learned the most efficient movement pattern. We have to train those movement patterns too like that’s why coaching tips like technique coaching is so valuable because you can correct movement patterns and teach your body the more efficient and the better way. I mean running is a prime example, we could talk all day about that I’m sure with you two. But that’s outside of tonight’s discussion. 55:26.76 Alyssa Well I think that just about wraps us up. Is there anything else, you’d like to touch on Steve or Chantelle before we close out. 55:36.23 Chantelle I think the biggest thing to think about is the quote unquote unsexiness of base training if you feel that way about it. Try to find a way to turn it around because it is so integral to everything that you’re going to do regardless of what type of athlete you are. So try to reframe that try to find a way to put it in a different perspective or a different spin on it so that you can rather than going out and dreading it or just constantly turning every zone 2 workout into a zone three workout because you’re not paying attention or you don’t like it or you have a negative thought about it try to reframe it in your head and find a way to enjoy it and remember that it really sets the stage for everything else. You’re going to do it to reach your goals. 56:27.82 Steve Yeah, and I would just add to that stay connected to the magic. You know if you’re a mountaineer. It’s because you love being in the mountains and don’t let the training supersede the motivation and you should continue to dip into the mountains and into what inspires you about the mountains to keep that part of you alive. Because that’s really what we’re doing this for. We’re not doing this to beat anyone or run a faster time than whatever it’s about being in the mountains enjoying the mountains, being safe of course having a long and varied career as a mountaineer and that’s what it’s about. So always just stay connected to the source. 57:16.81 Alyssa I love it. Yeah I spend a lot of time visualizing in this period. I think that’s always a great place to be where you’re envisioning how this work is going to pay off and what you’re going to feel and how great you’re going to feel because you’ve done the work. 57:18.00 Chantelle Good reminder. 57:33.13 Chantelle Are. 57:34.82 Steve Yeah, that’s actually a great tip. I like that. 57:35.63 Alyssa Ah, well thank you. I do that a lot with racing. I mean that’s more of an outcome but it’s like okay this is the work that is going to allow me to do what I want to do out there so well. Thank you both for being on this. 57:54.22 Alyssa Thank you all for listening to the Uphill athlete podcast. We ask that you rate review and subscribe on your favorite podcast platform. You can also visit us at and we really appreciate you taking the time to tune in. 58:08.81 Steve And remember it’s not just one, but a community together. We are Uphill Athlete thanks for listening.

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