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New Alpinism


Kyle Tarry · · Portland, OR · Joined Mar 2015 · Points: 162

I get what you're saying, probably poor word choice on my part. When I am talking about intensity, I was speaking in absolute terms (minutes er mile or whatever), not relative to the individual (zone, HR, perceived exertion, etc).

You gotta do your zone 1 workouts in zone 1, no matter what, but as you get fitter those workouts will be faster.

However, I would point out that exertion and zones are not discrete numbers, but are ranges on a continuum. So, for many folks, you could increase the intensity of your workout a bit, and still be in zone 3. For example, if you're doing some uphill weighted climbing, you can probably bump the pace a little bit, or carry a little bit more weight, and get some more stimulus while still being in the "same" zone. So, if you have 3 hours to do your weighted hill carries instead of 4, you don't necessarily just sacrifice 1 hours and lose 25% of the stimulus. You *may* be able to bump the intensity a bit, still stay in the same "zone," and get more stimulus.

Patrick Shyvers · · Fort Collins, CO · Joined Jul 2013 · Points: 15

Nick, my cardio & climbing probably need equal work. While I have thousands of hours climbing, I don't have a lot of experience on hard cracks, and in cardio terms I was what the authors termed aerobically deficient- years and years of doing things at maximum intensity, so I was in OK shape but had no base.

I know my climbing won't improve a lot while I'm doing TFTNA, but that's OK- I'm training for the climbs I'll do in 2-3 years. Plenty of time for some cycles to focus on climbing.

But, anyway, my takeaway today is, break my bigger goal into a few smaller goals, and go ahead and cap my aerobic volume.

Markuso · · Fernie · Joined Jan 2016 · Points: 95

I agree with Nick. On top of that, part of your motivation problem will be that your goals are so far off (in your view) that it keeps you from being motivated. If your goal climbs are a few months out, and are realistic right now in terms of ability now you may find yourself motivated again.

cramblda Cramblett · · Vancouver, WA · Joined Feb 2016 · Points: 15
Markuso wrote:I agree with Nick. On top of that, part of your motivation problem will be that your goals are so far off (in your view) that it keeps you from being motivated. If your goal climbs are a few months out, and are realistic right now in terms of ability now you may find yourself motivated again.
^^^ Exactly this worked well for me. I had no specific goals and was just doing a bit of this and that for my training, going no where. I set a difficult, but attainable, goal last year and it made all the difference. Getting up at 3am for a 3.5 hour run was much easier with a reasonable goal that I cared about.
Nick Drake · · Newcastle, WA · Joined Jan 2015 · Points: 483
Patrick Shyvers wrote:Nick, my cardio & climbing probably need equal work. While I have thousands of hours climbing, I don't have a lot of experience on hard cracks, and in cardio terms I was what the authors termed aerobically deficient- years and years of doing things at maximum intensity, so I was in OK shape but had no base. I know my climbing won't improve a lot while I'm doing TFTNA, but that's OK- I'm training for the climbs I'll do in 2-3 years. Plenty of time for some cycles to focus on climbing. But, anyway, my takeaway today is, break my bigger goal into a few smaller goals, and go ahead and cap my aerobic volume.
You're basically exactly where I was when I started my first round of TFTNA in the fall of 2014. I had years of ski touring and mountaineering, but I had always gone all in on the uphill in Z3-Z4. It only took four months to see a drastic jump in my Z1 performance, so you're much better of than someone who has no endurance background.

I followed TFTNA to a T for 14-15. I saw a huge jump in aerobic base with just one season. Dropped my Z1 pace on a hilly trail from 12:30 minute mile to an 8:30 by August (mid season). I didn't see any large increase in climbing ability though.

For 15-16 I kept up frequency of recovery to Z1 runs at least every other day, but made the times short mid week (20-25min). This let me sleep enough to recover and then get far more time in climbing at the gym weeknights. Weekend ski tours or alpine climbs counted for long Z1. I got out cragging as much as possible with a goal of just getting in pitches. If the approach to the crag is short go run after.

This last summer I still did a few grade IV routes with long approaches car to car. My Z1 pace was a hair slower, but still right up there with any partners (who were usually at a mouth breathing rate anyway). My technical ability had a massive jump once I got my lead head screwed on.

If I was going back and starting again in 2014 I would have told myself to do the frequency of aerobic work, but with much lower total volume. No amount of training makes up for time on real rock.
tsherry · · Portland, OR · Joined Sep 2013 · Points: 518
cramblda wrote: Thats a good question. When I read the book and looked at their supplemental training log, it would seem you base your your aerobic training on the percentages they specify of your total weekly volume. However, if you look at the charts specifically for the transition period near page 228, it uses the words "percentage of weekly aerobic volume". I can see your confusion. As far as I can tell from all areas of the books, I have the training log book as well, the percentages are for all your training. For example, if your training volume is 2.5 hours, your transition week 1 would be something like: Z1 Aerobic (25% of Volume): 37.5 min General Strength (Variable - Est. 30 min ) : 30 min Z2 Aerobic (10% of Volume): 15 min General Strength (Variable - Est. 30 min ) : 30 min Leaving 37.5 minutes for climbing/remaining Z1 aerobic. I started with a weekly volume of 3 hours and the numbers seemed small to me. I was already running 60 minutes - 3x a week. However, after a few months my first Z1 run of the week was 3.5 hours/17 miles. By then I fully understood why they started you so small. Good luck!
Thank you so much for answering that question. I'm just starting out with writing out the plan, and the drop down in training volume was very confusing to me.
Tom Nyce · · Flagstaff, AZ · Joined Nov 2010 · Points: 45

Steve House recently wrote an essay.
uphillathlete.com/dreams-ar…
I'm curious what comments that you guys might have on this.

Rod Cole · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2017 · Points: 0

Hello all,

Just thought I would toss something in the mix for whatever it is worth. I am 60 years old and these days do more hiking than climbing. But I get in some rock and ice climbing, having in the recent past done the Casual Route on the Diamond, various winter gully climbs on Mt Washington, Black Dike mixed ice/rock a few weeks ago (though I only lead these days on easy stuff like the winter gully climbs or modest sport climbs). 

It used to be I could bang out a tough couple of White Mountain 4000 footers, 20-25 miles in the winter when roads are closed, in a long day and be fine. Over the years I was getting weaker and weaker so that one hard 4000 ft 10 mile day was getting to be on the tough side. I figured this is just what happens as you get old.

I had moved towards more of a high intensity (Free Lunch!) type workout and did not put it together that this was a big part of the problem. After my first go round of the TFTNA approach, about 6 months, months shy of 60, I did a traverse of the Presidential Range, eight 4000 footers, 22 miles, something like 8700 ft of vertical, much on very tough trails, in a very comfortable 14 hours, with energy to spare. In fact the plan was to head down on peak seven at 17 miles (total would have been 20 miles to the road), but I looked at my time and figured if I just broke into a jog I could bust out 5 miles and grab an additional peak and still meet the family for dinner. So I picked up the pace and ran most of the trail between miles 17 and 22, met my family right on time, went out to a nice dinner and partied well into the evening. And was walking up and down stairs fine in the morning.

Training works! Who knew?

Frank F · · Bend, OR · Joined May 2010 · Points: 0

Rod,

Nice to read your comments.  An important take-away from your experience is that not only does training work, but that even older folks benefit from following the training protocol in TFTNA. I'm seven years older than you and hope to keep from hanging up my crampons for a few more years. But when I started workouts following the periodized scheme as described in TFTNA, I really wondered if it would pay off. Initially, it didn't seem so. But then I started to make some adjustments and now, a couple years after my first efforts with this approach, I feel like my endurance has improved, suggesting my overall energy system is more efficient.

FWIW, these are my comments to the gray hair gang:

Be patient.  You’re in this for the long haul.  Benefits in performance may seem to slow to be realized.  It’s OK to extend the time spent in the transition or base building periods. 

Rest.  Schedule low volume weeks (for me, every fourth) and then follow your schedule.  Take rest and recovery days frequently.  Try to get some extra sleep.

Plan to spend 75% of training/exercise time doing aerobic activities, broadly along the lines of the relative volumes graph shown on p. 247 for base period training.

Be honest with your goals for strength training.  Are you going to get more benefit from general strength workouts or do you think at your age you’re going to get much stronger by doing max strength workouts (and without injuring yourself)?

Add mobility workouts.  Yoga, Pilates, plyos, whatever you’ll do regularly. Got some old injuries?  Incorporate your PT exercises.

In sum, yeah, training does make a difference, even for old fogies.

Rod Cole · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2017 · Points: 0

Hi Frank,

All good points. 

Mike Gillam · · Elyria, Ohio · Joined Jan 2010 · Points: 0

Since this thread has been sleeping for a while..Starting base period after a spring/summer of ww kayaking focus.  Since I will still be kayaking (1-2 times a week until Oct/November) during the base period, what are suggestions for time spent on the water?  56 years old, so I use flexible times, and take recovery/off days as needed, rather than stick to a regimented week.  I am using 3-5 hours/week (depends on kayaking) as a starting point for the base, and a weekend of kayaking alone would easily surpass those hours... Over the last 4 weeks my training hours are 3 (5 including yak), 3.5 (7), 4 (9), and 5 hours (0 kayaking).  

Kyle Tarry · · Portland, OR · Joined Mar 2015 · Points: 162

3-5 hours per week starting out seems low if you've been active historically.

I think you need to be cautious about counting all of the hours of an activity like kayaking because of specificity.  I'm not a kayaker so I may not be totally right here, but while I am sure it's good exercise I question how well it translates to the type and area of fitness you're trying you gain with TFTNA.  For example, a week with 8 hours of kayaking would do far less to prepare you for mountaineering than a week with 8 hours of hiking uphill with a pack on.  However, it's probably better than zero hours.  So, I'd be tempted to reduce the hours by some fraction.

Alternatively, just don't count them at all, but take the extra load into account with regard to nutrition, sleep, and rest days.

I always have a similar struggle riding my dirt bike.  It's super hard work, and some of it definitely translates, but it's not 1:1.

John Vanek · · Gardnerville, NV · Joined May 2013 · Points: 0

I second what Kyle says; you need to think about your goal and how your training supports that goal. I'm 58 and used TFTNA for eight months to prep for my trip to Chamonix and alpine climbing. TFTNA - in the specificity stage - speaks to training for a mountaineering goal v.s a technical alpine goal. I blended this split, while leaning to the mountaineering side. I was moving pretty fast, and received compliments by locals familiar with the climbs I did. My training was very successful in my mind. But it also was not my first time using a focused approach to sport specific training. All of this is to say you must have a clear goal as to what you want to achieve. If you want to climb, kayaking will give you limited benefits. If time is not an issue for you, and you can train for climbing as much as you want - and kayak - that's probably okay. But if time is limited for either training or recovery, kayaking would be the first thing to cut in my plan. Again, the main question is, what is your goal and when do you want to peak?

Mike Gillam · · Elyria, Ohio · Joined Jan 2010 · Points: 0

Thanks for your replies.  I do understand the advantage of sport specific training, I am just trying to design a program that I can train with, that will combine the best of both worlds.  Living in northern Ohio I tend to ww kayak (PA, WV) more so than alpine climbing.  This past year, my focus was 100% kayaking/kayak training, as I was preparing for a Grand Canyon kayak trip.  However, summer/fall of 2018, I am trying to add a climbing trip of two in addition to kayaking (usually 2 days/week April/May-Sept/Oct) and possibly a weeklong Colorado kayaking trip.

Jonny d · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jan 2011 · Points: 40

Mike- Probably depends on what you mean by "climbing trip or two."  A couple of roadside climbs, and I'd say you don't need the aerobic base training to be specific to climbing.  If you're talking about getting out in the hills properly and away from "traffic," then I'd think you really ought to get your legs beat into shape as part of your base training.  I've been through three cycles of a TFTNA program.  Just got back from Chamonix on Sunday.  Kansan though I am, I was able to keep up almost fully with a Cham regular on the grinding hike off the glacier up to the Midi lift-- I credit that to TFTNA and some added "leg blasters"; sweated like a pig but kept the pace without slowing down the native much, if at all.  Tailor your training to what you need-- but note that the authors are pretty clear that running/hiking are superior to cycling and swimming, if for no other reason than that they're causing your legs to bear weight just like you'll need them to do when you venture into the hills.

Kyle Tarry · · Portland, OR · Joined Mar 2015 · Points: 162

Mike, in the end you can and should make whatever compromises suit your goals.  However, if the question is still "how should I count hours spent kayaking against the target training hours in TFTNA?", I stand by my original answer, which is that you should count them as "partial credits" or not at all.  Kayaking simply isn't similar enough to climbing/mountaineering to be a stand-in replacement.

Bob Campbell · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Nov 2017 · Points: 0

Does anyone monitor heart rate zones during their goal ascents (i.e, not training days, but your serious projects?)

For example, this winter I'm not sure whether to monitor my approach hikes to try and stay in zone 1 and 2 prior to the actual hiking. The approach hikes I'm thinking about are fairly long and steep and I'll be carrying a big load. I could easily see myself moving into zone 3/4 if I move at the pace I have done in the past. 

Has anyone noticed any benefit to either:

1. Monitoring heart rate on the approach to stay fresh for the rest of the day. You might take longer to get to the climb but it may prevent you slowing down later

Or

2. Hiking at a fast approach speed which brings you into zone 3/4. Although I'm working in a higher zone than for the bulk of my training, all that zone 1/2 training leading up to this point will mean I can sustain this high output for longer. 

Basically, does anyone have any thoughts regarding limiting energy expenditure to zone 1/2 on their big days out? Or do you push into 3/4 since this is no longer training but the main event?

Kyle Tarry · · Portland, OR · Joined Mar 2015 · Points: 162

I don't monitor HR specifically, but I definitely am very careful to keep my exertion level down in what you would consider zone 1/2 on approaches (and in many cases, easier section of the climb, such as pounding up a long steep snowfield).  Save the zone 3/4 for crux sections and steep pitches.

Nick Drake · · Newcastle, WA · Joined Jan 2015 · Points: 483

Bob, after following TFTNA plans I'll stay at nose breathing pace on the approaches of all my alpine routes. That corresponds well with my Z1 as they discuss in the book. Once I'm on route, if I'm following a pitch I'll haul ass and go into Z3/4 if needed. 

Scott Altland · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Dec 2016 · Points: 0

Question about everybody's transition phase.A reduction of 50% he per week will end up taking me 20 + weeks to reach my present volume.Seems like a huge reduction.Have any of you adjusted this starting volume?

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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