My 2015 Training Plan: Transition Period

View from Mt. Whitney back in 2014.

View from Mt. Whitney back in 2014.

I've never really had a dedicated training plan when it comes to exercising. It's mostly been along the lines of,

  1. Climb more
  2. Run more

To be honest, that worked out fine for me last year while I was discovering new things and what I enjoyed doing. This year though I wanted to find an approach to my training that would be more scientific and focused. I know I want to climb. I know I want to mountaineer. I know I want to do alpine climbing. So I began an amazon search back in December to look at what training books there were for my sports of choice, and I ran across a book called Training for the New Alpinism, written by Steve House and Scott Johnston. The book sounded perfect, and I recognized the name Steve House from another book I've read by him which I really enjoyed as well(Beyond the Mountain).

So far I am only about half way though the book. It's pretty big, but halfway gives me enough information to begin what they term as the "Transition Period". This is an 8-week period in which I will begin to allow my body to adapt to training so that it can accept a higher volume of training.

I'm new to the whole dedicated training thing, so this will definitely be an interesting year as I try to balance the whole concept of training with my fun on the weekends. And I have to admit, my goals are a bit all over the place. It's not like I have this one huge goal at the end of the year that I'm aiming for. It's more like I'd like to lead my first 5.11a and lead consistently at 5.10c. I'd like to be faster at mountaineering than I was last year and I'd like fatigue not to be a reason I don't summit. I want to be able to do alpine climbs in day and get efficient with multipitch. Climbing Mount Olympus in July is probably my biggest mountaineering goal for the season. I figure though, if I'm going to give these goals my best shot I need to learn some structure around training and hey, it can't hurt.... My goal is to stick to my training plan as closely as possible, and try to fit my weekend plans to correspond with my training plans. If all I do this year is learn how to better train myself for next year, that will be a success. Got to start somewhere.

So I'll keep you updated with my progress and comments throughout the year. Here is my "outline" for training in the transition period:

  • You'll notice that my week 1 looks alot more "specific" than my other weeks... that's because I have a better idea what I'm doing this weekend and thought I'd try to adapt the schedule to be more specific.
  • Weeks 1-3 I stay at a consistent volume of endurance minutes
    • Mostly engaging my zone 1 heart rate because I want to train my muscles to use fat for fuel, and a whole bunch of other stuff that is explained in the book
  • 2 core/strength training sessions per week
  • 1 climbing specific day (which for week 1 I've translated into 2 climbing days because I'll be at red rocks this weekend) Can't help myself.

All in all, I'll be doing this "schedule" but adapting as I listen to my body in trying to avoid overtraining.

  • Weeks 4 and 5 have the same feel, but with increased time focused on endurance
  • Weeks 6 and 7 add more time in endurance training and an extra climbing specific training session
  • Week 8 cuts back 50% to allow a rest week before jumping into Base training where I will increase the volume of my overall training... and things get harder.

This week I'll be base lining my general fitness with what they term as an Alpine Combine (taken from the general fitness tests behind football). This should give me a good idea of where I started in my general fitness and I'll test this every 4-6 weeks to see if I'm improving.

  • Alpine Combine
    • Timed 1,000 ft vertical ascent with 20% of my body weight pack on
    • Number of dips in 60 seconds
    • Number of sit ups in 60 seconds
    • Number of pullups in 60 seconds
    • Number of box jumps in 60 seconds
    • Number of pushups in 60 seconds
    • And I added in a timed mile in there because I'd like to see my mile time improve.
  • I have a lot of room for improvement here seeing that I can't do even 1 pullup yet, so I'm going to test "assisted" pullups along with normal pullups (Which for now will be 0 most likely unless i bust one out of nowhere on Friday when Cara, our trainer at work, helps me with these tests).
  • Did I mention I have a lot to improve on... I'm not good at many of these upper-body exercises. This will be quite the experience.
Hopefully, with training, I can avoid this face more this year on my climbs.

Hopefully, with training, I can avoid this face more this year on my climbs.

Every week I'll keep a detailed log and test my HRV (heart rate variability) with my FT60 polar heart rate monitor which will help me better understand how my body is handling my training load and if I need to cut back or not.

Sound complicated? Yup. But I'll give it my best shot. Consider me a test subject, or go buy the book and try it for yourself as well. Regardless, I'm looking forward to it, and I'll keep updates here every so often

Train your weakness. Race your strength.
— Eddie Borysewicz