Sunday, June 9, 2013

Running Based Training for the Alpine part 2 (some specifics)

In my last training post I talked about some of the basic concepts of training, like stress and recovery. I also talked about timing and patterns in training, like how long it takes to adapt to certain stresses. In this post I'm going to talk about how you can decide what to do on a day-to-day basis, i.e. what to focus on in each workout. I get pretty specific and while you are welcome to follow this word for word, I think it will be most useful to people as guidelines and ideas to add to what they already do. The important thing is consistency and specificity (doing stuff that specifically corresponds to your goal activity). While deciding what to take and leave from this post, remember: the best training program does the most with the least.

The Basic Idea:
1. Figure out what physiological systems you need to stress, then figure out the best workouts to create that stress.
2. Make a list of all these workouts and sort them so that similar workouts are not next to each other.
3. Every time you  have a non-mountain training day, and have some excess energy, do the next workout on the list.
4. If you feel too tired to provide a concentrated effort then do a short and easy run (or other aerobic exercise) and focus on stretching, eating well and going to sleep early.
5. Keep repeating the list as your body and other activities allow. Go a little faster or do a little more each time you repeat a workout.
6. Stay relaxed and flexible. Before and after a big trip/expedition/weekend/etc. just go easy. Take a day or two off if you need it.
7. Remember that consistency creates the most improvement. You will gain much much more from repeating the easy version of a workout five times than from doing a longer or more intense workout once or twice.

Ideas for your workout list (I like to think of these as "fast AND relaxed" but never hard):
1. Strength workouts: uphill bounds/sprints/stairs during your run, or alternate quick running with strength exercises (example: 400m in 80-90 seconds (10km race pace), 20 lunges, 10 burpies, 20 sit-ups, 10 hops each foot, repeat 4-6 times, no rests)
2. Speed workouts: run as fast as possible for 10 sec once every 3 minutes during your run, repeat 10 times (this will help your muscle efficiency and power, and is helpful even on a glacier walk-up).
2. VO2 max (maximum oxygen usage) workout: run fast for 1min (3km to 5km race pace), run easy for 1min, repeat until you have ran fast for at least 6 minutes, ideally 10-20 minutes of fast running. You can do 2min/2min, 3/3 or 4/4. I recommend starting with short intervals and building up.
3. Lactic acid processing workouts (super critical for recovering from hard work at altitude): 30 sec fast (relaxed sprint), followed by 3 min easy, repeat 4-8 times.
4. Lactic threshold workouts: run at a steady but fast pace, depending on what I'm doing this could be 10 miles at 6 minute mile pace or faster, or it could be running easy for 15 min and then turning around and coming home in 12-13 min. You can also just find a long sustained uphill 2-5 miles long and run this (better workout for the alpine).
*Easy run/workout: if you are feeling low energy and/or sore run at a relaxed pace for at least 20 min (if I'm doing ~60 min fast runs then I'll do ~40 min easy runs). Afterwards stretch for 15 min, holding each stretch for at least 30 sec (static stretch).

Warm-ups and cool-downs:
1. Always run for at least 10 min at an easy pace before doing anything on the workout list. In winter I like to do 20 min of easy running to make sure I'm really warmed up.
2. Do dynamic stretching and light strength work before the list workout but after easy running. Examples of dynamic stretching: leg swings, high knees, butt kicks, etc. Examples of warm-up strength work (body weight only) 10 push-ups, 5 pull-ups, 20 step-ups, 20 lunges.
3. Do some fast running (4x 10sec fast and relaxed) before your list workout or just ease into the first interval or fast section.
4. After your workout do any strength maintenance activities you want: core strength, balance and lower leg exercises, hip strength, single leg squats with a 50 lbs. pack, whatever, just make sure you balance opposing muscle groups and remember not to overdo it after your run.
5. Static stretch: after all activity is finished is the only time I hold a stretch. I'm not trying to improve flexibility per se, mainly I'm holding muscle fibers in an elongated position which forces them to relax, allowing increased blood flow and faster recovery. After stretching, massage and ice bathing can also relax muscles and increase blood flow (elevated feet is the lazy man's ice bath and helped me get through 4-race days during major track meets).
Approaching Matterhorn Peak in the Sierra Nevada less than one week before climbing Mt. Shasta.
Looking South from Matterhorn Peak into Yosemite National Park. I used lots of short easy runs to recover for Shasta.
On top of Matterhorn Peak. Car to car in less than 8 hours.

In my last post I talked briefly about training or activity logs. It took a long time for me to become convinced of their usefulness. Many running stores sell pathetic little mileage log books that encourage you to log how many miles you run each day. I'm not a fan because for me mileage doesn't equal preparedness. I think that your running log should show what is important to you and this may change. For the sake of giving ideas on log keeping, but also to show how I apply my own ideas, I'm going to include some excerpts from my 2012 log...

In May I was in Indiana building a rock climbing wall, doing hard physical work 60-70 hrs/week:
Mon-Sun, May 7-13
7 work 7am-7pm, 12 hour day, lower leg strength, core, stretching
8 work 7am-7pm, 12 hour day, 10 min boulder traverse, pullups, pushups
9 work 7am-7pm, 12 hour day, 20 min run 3x 1min fast/1min easy, leg strength, stretch
10 work 7am-7pm, 12 hour day, lower leg strength, core, pushups, stretching
11 work 7am-6:30 pm, 11.5 hour day, 10 min boulder traverse, pullups, stretching
12 work 8am-6:30pm 10.5 hour day, bouldering, 31 min run w/ speed and tempo, lower legs, core, stretch
13 off work, 73 min run at Eagle Creek, skipping drills, stretch

In September I went from my cousin's wedding in Santa Fe, to trail running in Oregon, to alpine rock climbing in the Tetons in one week. I took easy days where possible and tried to relax and enjoy everything:
Sept 1-10
1 forearm strength and some stationary biking, core, stretching, Alexa's wedding! Lots of dancing!
2 fly back to Bend, throwing up and diarrhea (lack of sleep, alcohol, bumpy plane ride, stomach bug?)
3 walk to top of Overturf Butte with Caitlin, chill out and eat plain food and drink water
4 39 min run up river trail with Ghelfi, lower legs, core, pullups, stretch
5 drop off Ryan and Joe at Pole Creek at 4:45am for the Sister's Traverse, then ran South Sister (2:15 to summit and 3:30 round trip) to meet them
6 22 min walk, stretch, prep for Tetons
7 wake up at 3:30am, pick up Ian and drive to the Tetons
8 Grand Teton! wake up at 2:15 am, leave Lupine Meadows TH at 3:15am, reach start of Lower Exum at 10:30ish, lead p1 and 3-6, combine p3&4 and p5&6, reach Wall Street at 3ish, solo all of Upper Exum in approach shoes, Grand Teton summit at 5:30ish, two rappels to Upper Saddle, Lower Saddle at 8ish, hike back to car, arrive around 12:30am (21+ hrs round trip), sleep by 1:30am
9 off, big breakfast in Jackson at the Virginian, drive to Yellowstone, swim in Lewis River, walk around
10 off, drive back to Bend

In October I had a lot of time off and really got into training but had some nagging running injuries so did a lot of biking:
Oct 19-29
19 65 min bike out Cascade Lakes (change flat), 4 circuits at Harmon Park (crawl, lunges, hops, burpies, high knees), pullups, stretch
20 70 min bike w/ Mike and Chris, 20 min run w/ 4 sprints, leg strength, core, stretch, climbing at Meadow Camp w/ Chris and Caitlin (7 routes)
21 off
22 31 min run, leg strength, core, 20 min boulder traverse, 5 ea climbing drills, stretch
23 bike to rock gym, climb w/ Chris and Caitlin (TR, lead, boulder), pullups, bike home, L hip tight
24 47 min run w/ 4x 10sec sprint, strength repetitions (only 31 pullups), stretch+ (L hip still tight)
25 38 min bike, cfeet, core, stretch, 32 min bike to Metolius, bike to rock gym, 20 min laps, TR w/ Mike and Caitlin, bike home via supermarket
26 30 min tempo run, stretch, climb at Smith w/ Tess and Chris (Lower Gorge 3x 5.10s, try Pure Palm)
27 climb at Smith w/ Ian in mountaineering boots (2x 5.7, 2x 5.8, all knobby slabs)
28 climb at Smith w/ Mike/Caitlin/Chris, lead Cinnamon Slab (2ps), follow Karate Crack, started raining
29 60 min run, leg strength, core, stretch 
Approaching the Lower Exum on the Grand Teton.
Ian enjoying life on top of the Grand after 15+ hours on the move.
So that's it for now. I hope this is helpful to whoever reads it. Please feel free to post any questions or feedback below. Have fun running!

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