Expedition recovery and overtraining

  • Creator
  • #41973

    This last fall, I got back from a successful but exhausting expedition on October 26, and my ski patrol season began November 16. I got home and basically did nothing for those few weeks. A couple chill mountain biking sessions, and low intensity recovery climbing days and workouts, but mostly my feet were shredded and destroyed and they needed rest before going into 150 days of ski boots, and I was super low energy, and I was just in recovery mode. Going into my expedition I was at the peak fitness I’d been for years, and I felt like I performed super well on expedition. I did an Uphill Athletes training program leading up to it.

    But my entire ski patrol season this last winter I felt like I lead weights attached to my feet. I work at a resort with a lot of hiking access terrain so about 2+ combined hours of our day is going uphill with our gear. Mornings often spent hiking with an additional 20lbs of explosives.

    Clearly my timeline of 3 weeks recovery into a new big daily load was poorly timed, so I’m just wondering what would have been a better timeline. As in X number weeks recovery + Y weeks fitness ramp up to ski patrol load. In the past, ski patrolling felt super easy and only required my base level fitness, so I honestly didn’t think I was going into a large load. I was shocked how hard it felt compared to past seasons even though I should have been in amazing fitness coming off of an expedition. I’d like to be able to do fall expeditions in the future, so I’m trying to analyze a better timeline, so I can have more consistency in the winter. At the end of my ski patrol season this March, I felt like I was at a level of deep fatigue and probably overtrained. I recognized this in December, but it was my job, and I couldn’t scale back. Post season I felt like I needed to take a large break and recalibrate and essentially start from scratch now in May.

    I’m currently starting the transition period for a well thought out periodized training plan over the next 25 weeks to have a strong ski patrol + ice climbing winter season 20-21 and lead into a Denali via Cassin expedition in next June. My hope is to then have a really strong alpine climbing season in 2021 and potentially head back to Patagonia in the 2021 fall. I want to better understand the mistakes after my 2019 fall expedition ,so I can have a good “cut off” time for fall expeditions (late September? Early October?) to have recovery + build up to a new ski patrolling season if that’s what I need to do. Thanks!!

    • This topic was modified 2 months, 2 weeks ago by s.jones.
    • This topic was modified 2 months, 2 weeks ago by s.jones.
  • Keymaster
    Scott Johnston on #42007

    Have you read some of our musing about Capacity vs Utilization?? This might help you understand how I am going frame my answer.

    Before the trip, you were building up your work capacity bank account. Making deposits daily with your training plan. By the end you had what you thought was quite a big cash cushion in the bank so you could go on a spending spree (utilization) while on your expedition. Unless you specifically designed this trip to include 7-10 capacity building training blocks your fitness was dropping the whole time you were on that trip. This scenario is high unlikely. Each hard day withdrew enough more from that bank account such that you were mainly resting between hard efforts rather than Jonesing to go training on your ‘off’ days. If some of the efforts were huge then you came home with massive debt that needed to be repaid. You needed first to get rested, during which time you would be losing additional fitness and then you needed many weeks to rebuild some of lost fitness.

    After his Nanga Parbat climb in 2005 Steve was pretty exhausted for most of a year.

    How do you avoid this? Have your capacity so massive compared to the demands of the trip that you can come home fresher and resume training with out weeks of rest. There is no formula because this balance between your capacity and how much of it you utilize is something only you can decide.


    Scott Semple on #42090

    Also! Because your job is physically demanding, you need to include it in your total volume calculations. Similar to guiding, even though your work sessions may not be targeted training, they take a toll.

Viewing 2 replies - 1 through 2 (of 2 total)
  • You must be logged in to reply to this topic.