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Does running help your climbing?
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By Crux Crush
May 17, 2013
rock love

We're curious about your thoughts on the role of running in climbing training...
cruxcrush.com/2013/05/17/climbing-running/#more-3051


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By Jon Zucco
From Denver, CO
May 17, 2013
yaak crack Red Rock Canyon, NV

couldn't hurt. I would think trail running or hiking at high altitude would be more effective. Of course, it all depends on what you're climbing.


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By germsauce
May 17, 2013
Hippos kill people

this is interested, and timely for me. Since this winter, i've been running 20-30 miles a week 90% on trails. I did not train much, maybe hit the gym 1-2 times a week to boulder/climb some routes, but generally have been pretty apathetic about anything that might be considered climbing "training". Ran my first marathon last week (Quad Rock), the day after, i sent a Boulder problem that has eluded me for 3 years 50-60 attempts. In generally i've noticed a major uptick in my climbing level, sending routes near my previous limit within a few tries. Got a 12a in Rifle i'd worked last year, after only a few tries the other weekend, had run 5 miles up the canyon that morning.

Not sure exactly what the difference is, i'm not sure i've lost a significant amount of weight, not enough to offset the lack of climbing i've been doing. My completely unscientific hypothesis are: Better core strength maybe, from running? Better heart rate/cardio management has helped me rest on routes and i don't get the "shakes" and feel my heart rate max out nearly like i did before (running just before climbing seems to really help with this). I am just a more relaxed, less angsty person/climber when i'm running a lot (i'm burning excess calories and stored up chi).

Thoughts? whatever it is, it's working, i haven't touched my hangboard all winter, climbing as well as I ever have, and found a new love in running the hills.


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By AnthonyM
May 17, 2013
Maroon Bells-Bell Cord Couloir

During my "most fit" time a few years ago-I found that running a lot-actually took from my reserves (as your link stated)... I would trail run and train like crazy when I noticed my endurance level for climbing, was actually getting worse.

A buddy, who was a personal trainer, started having me run a half mile to get warmed up and then he would have me do a full "lower body workout." Meaning leg-press, squats, etc. The end of the workout was ten minutes on the bike... I did this once or twice per week with one day of climbing and one day of "arms."

It worked-I did this for over a year and gained significant progress both in fitness as well as in climbing.

Each person has different things that worked for them...


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By Tank Evans
May 17, 2013
The TANK!!!

I have done a fair bit of anecdotal research on the subject and it seems that running a little helps, running a lot hurts. Many climbers have tried to balance serious running (80-100miles/wk) with climbing with no success.

I have noticed this myself. If I do more than ~40miles/wk I notice a marked decline in my recovery after climbing and really feel powered down. That being said, running to where you get some cardio but not so much that it tears you down has helped me tremendously. For me 40miles/wk is the sweet spot. It will always hurt your climbing at the beginning until you get accustomed to it, but I was never able to get accustomed to long (>12mile) runs after climbing.

Also, I am more of a trad and big-day climber, so all day fitness is important. Probably does'nt help hardly at all if all you do is boulder.


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By ScoRo
From Portland, OR
May 17, 2013
Ahhhh, remember the hair and pay tribute to it.

Completely anecdotal but yes I think running helps a lot, but only up to a point and it depends on what kind of climbing we are talking about. If your goals and interests surround big days in the mountains then running becomes a pretty necessary component to ensure success.

If you are looking to climb V10 maybe not so much. Right now I'm running 40-ish a week and have a 50k scheduled at the end of the month. I've noticed that while I can hang on forever I've lost some power (ran it away!). Ultra-running may not be conducive to improving strength in climbing, but I also shifted the balance from training more for climbing and using running to stay fit to training for running and fitting in climbing sessions where I could.


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By germsauce
May 17, 2013
Hippos kill people

seems like with this, as with most things fitness, it really is different strokes for different folks. I really don't understand why running has helped, especially why it's helped me boulder better, but I'll take it. It could be that i've just been bouldering MORE. and maybe that's a secret sauce mix that's working for me, to train endurance through running and actually climbing routes when it strikes my fancy, but focusing at least 60% of my climbing on bouldering, while maintaining the running gives me overall fitness/endurance and power.

or maybe it's that i've been climbing with zero expectations given my lack of training and the whole damn thing is mental....


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By TheBirdman
From Eldorado Springs, Colorado
May 17, 2013

I'll point out the main reason I think running is beneficial. It stops me from climbing. Besides cardio health, weight loss, increased ability to recover, and providing a sort of mental training (pushing through walls when running) which are all beneficial to climbing in one way or another, running also gives me something else to do. I frequently think because of my obsession with climbing, I do it too much, that it actually is counterproductive. I don't recover enough and I continue to climb through it which I think does more harm than good. Climbing is the first and pretty much only thing I think about doing when I'm bored. This used to lead me to climb 5-6 days a week and none of these are ARC sessions. It's usually limit bouldering, hard sport climbing, or longer trad/alpine days.

Running more takes time away for climbing, which for a psycho like myself who is can't say no to a climbing session, is a good thing. I agree that running too soon before climbing can sap reserves and too soon after climbing can take away from recovery, but I'm coming to grips with the fact that you simply can't climb hard all the time and expect to get stronger. Running is a good alternative.

In short, does running make you a better climber? No. I do think there are a variety of physiological benefits to running though and most importantly, it provides me with another activity that takes me away from climbing giving me more time to recover and keeping me more psyched about climbing (since I don't do it as often and perform better as a result of the increased recovery time).


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By Said
From Boulder, Co
May 17, 2013
Top of the 3rd pitch of Touchstone at Zion NP.

Climbing endurance is local to the forearms. The capillaries in your forearms are not large enough to take advantage of any benefit gained from improved cardio in running.

If you want to train for climbing, it must be sport specific. Dave MacLeod and Douglas Hunter harp on this a lot in their books. But even then how much can you really believe, as there isn't a whole lot of solid scientific research backing up climbing training claims.

With that said, if running makes you feel good and healthy then do it. Seeing how climbing is 90% mental anyways, if you think it makes you feel stronger, it will.

I'm curious what Aerili thinks. She's the local exercise physiology expert.


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By Casey Ryback
May 17, 2013
Chief Petty Officer and former Navy Seal turned chef

My guess is that it depends on who you are. If you get winded on a flight of stairs(me)and don't have a history of cardio training, then it will probably improve your climbing. If you're a former cyclist/triathlete/runner, then it probably won't help.

I want to start doing cardio this summer. Anybody have an idea of best heart rate range, number of sessions, length, etc to do for climbing?

I've done "conversational" pace(135-145bpm) jogs in the past, but only for 20-25 minutes at a time for bloodflow and recovery. I didn't feel like they did much for me. I wonder whether I need to just do a lot more work at that pace/intensity, or need more runs in the 150-160bpm range. Thoughts?


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By The Phoenix
May 17, 2013
The Phoenix

Crux Crush wrote:
We're curious about your thoughts on the role of running in climbing training... cruxcrush.com/2013/05/17/climbing-running/#more-3051


This is LAME!

You're obviously just trying to get clicks on your blog...

Have you ever actually even posted a Post and not just a link to your blog?


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By teece303
From Highlands Ranch, CO
May 17, 2013
Aiding.

No. Running is good for *you*, but not your rock climbing. It might help mountaineers.

Also: start putting your text in the post, as this is really starting to look like link spam. Have you even read any of these comments?


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By grampa potate
May 17, 2013

I, for one, don't like, running. I do, however, enjoy watching others, run.


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By reboot
From Westminster, CO
May 17, 2013

JLP wrote:
Saying 40 miles a week is recovery from climbing is rather elite

Tank is about as elite as they come that still bothers to respond to us wankers. The one interesting tidbit he said was the whole getting used to it part (larger volume than you can initially handle well). It seems to be a recurring theme amongst the serious climbers (not just running, but also climbing/training volume in general). Me? I'm always looking for the most gain in the least amount of time. 1/3 of Tank's running volume will be a huge step up from where I'm at now.


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By Brendan Blanchard
From Strafford, NH
May 17, 2013
Obi Wan Ryobi - Darth Vader Crag, Rumney NH

I see your link, and I'll raise you one!

www.bettermovement.org/2013/the-dangers-of-specialization/


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By Jon Zucco
From Denver, CO
May 17, 2013
yaak crack Red Rock Canyon, NV

I guess I'm inclined to agree with the, 'less is more' argument when it comes to running & climbing. But don't really know from personal experience. I've never really run more than a couple miles a day. i just know that when i started running, i showed a little improvement in climbing stamina, probably due to the increased overall health and general cardio benefits regular exercise like that gives. Also, if you can get away with it, ride your bike to work. it's ride your bike to work day after all.


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By Woodchuck ATC
May 17, 2013
Rock Wars, RRG, 2008

No, I get tired,and knees hurt. I don't like access hikes anymore that are over 400 yds or so....yeah, call me old and lazy. Maybe I belong in a gym instead now days/;-(


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By Eric D
From Gnarnia
May 17, 2013
Born again on the last move of the Red Dihedral, high Sierras.

Of course it does. Running helps you lose weight. Less weight makes climbing easier.


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By ChaseLeoncini
From San Diego, California
May 17, 2013
El Cajon Mtn. Leonids. 5.9.

I was a pretty aggressive skateboarder when i was in high school and did it for nearly eight years before my joints began spazzing. I quit and did nothing for 4 years. Then i started climbing. My body was sooooo much stiffer and i felt like any small injury would seriously hurt. It made me fear falling so much more. I noticed when i started running that it kind of stretches me out a bit and gives my legs a little more strength like they used to have. I climb better.
But hell, maybe it doesnt do anything. Maybe its all in my head. But that's all i needed. A little mental push.


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By slim
Administrator
May 20, 2013
tomato, tomotto, kill mike amato.

in my experience, up to about 10 miles a week (weak) is ok, but any more than that and it kills my climbing workout recovery and starts giving me problems. when i look back through my workout records, i have more of an inverse correlation between aerobic fitness and climbing fitness.

i have pretty much quit running altogether (during the winter i might run on a treadmill at a medium pace for 30 minutes, 2 nights a week - just to offset a couple beers).


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By The Stoned Master
Administrator
From Pennsylvania
May 20, 2013
Day Lily.

I can't speak overall (for others of course) but Yes climbing helps big time. It helps with the long, upward approaches and it definitly helps me during contracted/crux sequences. Running keeps my body in shape, shape to flush the lactic acids out and shape for my cardio system which supplies much needed oxygen to my muscles.

I didn't run when first learning to climb but once I got serious and took on more serious routes (5.10+ for example) I found running to be helpful, not amazing, just helpful like a hand tool.

Edit: my main focus is multi-pitch endurance trad though. If I wasn't into endurance I probably wouldn't run nearly as often or at all.


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By Eric Whitbeck
May 20, 2013

The Phoenix wrote:
This is LAME! You're obviously just trying to get clicks on your blog... Have you ever actually even posted a Post and not just a link to your blog?

I agree with the Phoenix on this one, but since I have started running at age 42 and year 18 in my climbing career I am actually interested in what others see as results. I think the Stoned Master is also right on target by identifying his/her focus in the sport. The term "climbing" is far too generic to be too useful and people's training programs and goals are quite varied. My emphasis in training and most of my climbing is to prepare for that rare perfect day in the mountains or on a wall. If I was focusing my efforts around pulling one or two super hard moves on boulders then I am not sure I would run at all. I also think for most climbers, running is a supplement and they are not running 40 miles per week, probably not even 10. However, if your goals require long days and long approaches it seems like some running must be beneficial as long as you don't schedule your runs to eat away at your climbing recovery time.
I do have one question for the serious runners out there. Do sprinters and marathon runners use the same basic training principles? I always think of boulderers as sprinters and big wall climbers as marathon runners and wonder how the differences in runner training might correspond to the different ways to train for long hard routes in the mountains compared to hard boulder problems.


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By Greg Kimble
From Colorado
May 20, 2013

Just like everything else, it depends. It depends on your body type, how long and how often you are running, what type of climbing you are training for, how hard you are climbing, your baseline level of fitness.

I think Tank is right on the money with his post. I would add that I seem to remember and interview with Tommy Caldwell where he mentioned he ran somewhere around 60-70 miles a week un top of climbing. If he ran much more he felt weak on the rock.

As far as running for weight loss, there are much better things you can do than run 30 miles a week to drop a few pounds. There is better cardio you can do as well.


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