Adventure Projects is hiring a web engineer to join us in Boulder, CO
Mountain Project Logo

Any other serious runners/multi-sport athletes out there?


Original Post
Iain McCrory · · Minneapolis · Joined Jan 2017 · Points: 0

I have a few questions for anyone who takes both climbing and running somewhat seriously. How do you handle balancing training and maintaining a high level of both sports? I currently run 3-5 times a week and climb 3 days a week, with at least a long run and interval/threshold workout and one hard day climbing. I am always worried about over doing it and am never quite sure how to best progress as both sports with my time not entirely focused on one. I am starting to send mid 11s and can still run run a sub-5 mile/ sub-16:30 5k, so I am not extremely advanced at either, but at the same time am fairly experienced with both. So basically, I am curious what runners or even other multi-sport athletes are doing training wise to balance climbing and another sport.

Mark Says · · Aspen, CO · Joined Jul 2017 · Points: 395

This is a personal perspective from someone who does both, but does not consider themselves elite at either. I usually run about 3 days a week, usually 1-3 miles two of those days and up to 5 on trail for the third. I usually climb about 2-3 days a week as well, and go to the gym and/or pool one day to work areas I miss climbing.

I don't find running to conflict at all. Running is where I beat up my lower body and my upper body just keeps up, climbing is where I beat up my upper body and my lower just keeps up. Both help my core, and I use the alternate day to catch up on that as well. So as long as I rest from both on the same days, I seem to recover just fine, and never find myself too hurting from one or the other to do both. Hope that makes sense!

Alex Drew · · Golden, CO · Joined May 2016 · Points: 5

You can't be great at both. One your going to be heavy in the legs the other your going to be heavy in the upper body. Also running endurance only helps to a point for your cardiovascular system as it relates to climbing. Local forearm endure and running endurance do not equate. Pick one to be great at or just be ok at both. 

Holly Thomas · · Port Angeles, Washington · Joined Aug 2017 · Points: 0

Hey Iain! I don't consider myself a pro at either, climbing low 11 and running 35ish miles per week (certainly not sub 5 min miles!) but for the most part, I find ignoring the numbers and tuning into my body to be the best bet. I worked a pretty physical job over the summer as well and juggling them all was more mental fitness than physical. Some days I would start out on a pre-climb run and just turn right back around, noting that if I was already sluggish I probably wouldn't enjoy climbing later that day (and vice versa). 

It boiled down to choosing which I wanted to go hardest at on any given day. On days I climbed I would go for a light run, 4-5 miles, and have plenty of Mojo to climb. On days I wanted to run I'd go for really lovely long runs and hangboard/abs after. Somedays, I'd eat cheese and sleep.  

I think the two sports can complement each other wonderfully, and as Marcus mentioned I always notice that although I may not be climbing as hard as some of my buds my endurance is much higher.

I think it all depends on why you do what you do. Ultimately, I hope you do both because you love them and they feel good! If either of those factors begins to be compromised due to "training demands" maybe consider scaling back and prioritizing one or the other OR just accepting that we're people and we have a finite amount of energy and sometimes we just want to sleep in and drink beer and that ultimately, our "performance" is entirely subjective. The best climber/runner is the one having the most fun :) 

DavisMeschke Guillotine · · Armchair Asshole · Joined Oct 2013 · Points: 215
Alex Drew wrote:

You can't be great at both. One your going to be heavy in the legs the other your going to be heavy in the upper body. Also running endurance only helps to a point for your cardiovascular system as it relates to climbing. Local forearm endure and running endurance do not equate. Pick one to be great at or just be ok at both. 

This is pretty spot on. As I've started doing big runs (~12-18 miles at a time) I've noticed that my muscle tone as it relates to climbing is way down. This is obviously due to 1) the fact that I don't have much time to devote to climbing, but 2) my body can't recruit the fine motor movements associated with climbing harder than 5.9. However, I can climb 5.easy to 5.7 all day and not feel tired. Long runs are associated with slow twitch muscles, while technical climbing leans towards fast twitch muscle recruitment and fine tuned coordination. There's a balance to be acheived, but you won't be climbing hard if you devote your time to running. Steve House and Uphill Athelete have complied some cool studies on the subject of cardio/strength and they're worth looking into.

JCM · · Seattle, WA · Joined Jun 2008 · Points: 95
Tradiban · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2004 · Points: 11,435

I have done alot of both for many years, I can't see why one wouldn't compliment the other. Make the time to kick-ass at both, don't let one take precedent over the other. Run in the morning, climb at night, or whatever works for you.

Matthew Tangeman · · Bellingham, WA · Joined May 2015 · Points: 140
Alex Drew wrote:

You can't be great at both. One your going to be heavy in the legs the other your going to be heavy in the upper body. Also running endurance only helps to a point for your cardiovascular system as it relates to climbing. Local forearm endure and running endurance do not equate. Pick one to be great at or just be ok at both. 

I've found this to be true. Before I was serious about climbing, I was serious about mtn biking and trail and marathon running. Now, climbing is my main focus and I trail run just a couple days a week to keep my cardio up, and cause it's fun. I don't think I run enough to negatively affect my climbing and honestly I don't really care, it's not like I'm climbing cutting edge where I need that extra 0.002%. 

I think it's hard not only for your body to try to be serious at both, but also mentally exhausting. I just can't commit to training for performance in more than one thing at a time. 

Just think about what your goals are, and how you should balance the two will hopefully start to make more sense. 

Tradiban · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2004 · Points: 11,435
Matthew Tangeman wrote:

I've found this to be true. Before I was serious about climbing, I was serious about mtn biking and trail and marathon running. Now, climbing is my main focus and I trail run just a couple days a week to keep my cardio up, and cause it's fun. I don't think I run enough to negatively affect my climbing and honestly I don't really care, it's not like I'm climbing cutting edge where I need that extra 0.002%. 

I think it's hard not only for your body to try to be serious at both, but also mentally exhausting. I just can't commit to training for performance in more than one thing at a time. 

Just think about what your goals are, and how you should balance the two will hopefully start to make more sense. 

If you think you can't be good at both, you won't. Remember Bo Jackson?

DavisMeschke Guillotine · · Armchair Asshole · Joined Oct 2013 · Points: 215
Tradiban wrote:

If you think you can't be good at both, you won't. Remember Bo Jackson?

99.5% of the population isn't gifted genetically like Bo Jackson. 

Mark Says · · Aspen, CO · Joined Jul 2017 · Points: 395
DavisMeschke Guillotine wrote:

99.5% of the population isn't gifted genetically like Bo Jackson. 

How do you know you're not that 0.5% of the population until you try?

.

Unless you're that dude I saw in the grocery store the other day, comparing two boxes of cookies, sweating profusely presumably from making it across the parking lot, through the front doors and down the cookie aisle. I feel like he knows he's not part of that 0.5%. 

Iain McCrory · · Minneapolis · Joined Jan 2017 · Points: 0
Holly Thomas wrote:

Hey Iain! I don't consider myself a pro at either, climbing low 11 and running 35ish miles per week (certainly not sub 5 min miles!) but for the most part, I find ignoring the numbers and tuning into my body to be the best bet. I worked a pretty physical job over the summer as well and juggling them all was more mental fitness than physical. Some days I would start out on a pre-climb run and just turn right back around, noting that if I was already sluggish I probably wouldn't enjoy climbing later that day (and vice versa). 

It boiled down to choosing which I wanted to go hardest at on any given day. On days I climbed I would go for a light run, 4-5 miles, and have plenty of Mojo to climb. On days I wanted to run I'd go for really lovely long runs and hangboard/abs after. Somedays, I'd eat cheese and sleep.  

I think the two sports can complement each other wonderfully, and as Marcus mentioned I always notice that although I may not be climbing as hard as some of my buds my endurance is much higher.

I think it all depends on why you do what you do. Ultimately, I hope you do both because you love them and they feel good! If either of those factors begins to be compromised due to "training demands" maybe consider scaling back and prioritizing one or the other OR just accepting that we're people and we have a finite amount of energy and sometimes we just want to sleep in and drink beer and that ultimately, our "performance" is entirely subjective. The best climber/runner is the one having the most fun :) 

Hey Holly,

So you are doing a lot of doubles then? I have found that if I do anything more than a short-medium run before climbing I usually do not feel amazing and tire a little faster. Climbing before running is a lot more manageable, only really feel it if I really pushed it climbing or going for a little for uptempo run. Do you find any benefit from doubling or is it more you are sneaking in workouts when time allows? I am always wondering if it is really worth it to do both in a day, even when I am feeling great.

 I totally agree about being in tune with your body. My schedule is always somewhat flexible, so I am not 100% focused on numbers and do not feel bad about missing a workout here and there when I feel beat up.

Matthew,

Did you ever have a point where you felt running/biking was hindering your climbing or vice versa, or was your change in focus not gradual. I am curious if other people had a time where they thought one thing was interfering with the other. 

Brendan N · · Salt Lake City, Utah · Joined Oct 2006 · Points: 375

Running will not make your legs big, and climbing will not make your arms big, they are both body-weight exercises.  I find 3-5 miles runs every other day helps keep the weight down, while climbing every other day. Longer runs deplete glycogen levels too much and make climbing sluggish. I like to cycle running goals and climbing goals throughout the year, but it really depends on what your personal goals are. 

Sub 5 is speedy, well done. 

DougEvolves · · orting,wa · Joined Jul 2016 · Points: 20
DavisMeschke Guillotine wrote:

 Steve House and Uphill Athelete have complied some cool studies on the subject of cardio/strength and they're worth looking into.

Absolutely one of the best resources on the topic. "Training for the New Alpinism" = the new ten commandments.

Scott Becker · · Medford, OR · Joined Dec 2008 · Points: 565

I've definitely tried to climb hard while running 70 miles a week training for a marathon when I was younger. At my best, I've climbed within a letter grade of my best redpoint in the middle of heavy training. At my worst, I've been completely worthless on cragging days because of a hard workout or long run in previous days (or just general fatigue from a heavy training load). 

Nowadays I just try to focus on one thing while not letting my fitness for the other thing slip too far. Example: I ran a marathon last spring. During the winter I was running most days but kept my 2-3x per week climbing gym schedule and got out cragging when convenient. Kept the climbing sessions fun and unstructured since most of my physical energy was going towards keeping a more structured running schedule. After the marathon, it didn't take too much to ramp back into climbing shape. 

It's really hard to run your fastest or climb your hardest all the time. Let alone trying to do both at the same time. For me it makes sense to alternate seasons like that. Good luck, and whatever you do, keep it fun!

Jack C. · · Calgary, AB · Joined Mar 2013 · Points: 325
DougEvolves wrote:

Absolutely one of the best resources on the topic. "Training for the New Alpinism" = the new ten commandments.

And just like those pesky ten commandments I'd wager lots of people will read them and very few will do them (myself included as I'm working through it, making sure to stay in zone 1 and not actually do any cardio).

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

Post a Reply to "Any other serious runners/multi-sport athletes…"
in the Other Sports

Log In to Reply