Training for the Cassin Ridge

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  • #7495
    s.luedtke
    Participant

    Hello Everyone,

    My name is Seth and I have been planning a trip to Denali for over a year now. Our anticipated trip will take place around May 15, 2019 through June 15, 2019. We are a team of two and our objective is to acclimatize on the West Buttress, descend to the NE fork via the West Rib Cutoff, and then attempt the Cassin Ridge (unguided). We are trying to allow around 25 days on the glacier to maximize our chances.

    My first exposure to Uphill Athlete was after reading TFTNA and then utilizing the training log when I completed Liberty Ridge on Rainier in 2016. Ever since then I have been trying to take a much more regimented and pragmatic approach to my training. Still, I am quite new to fully regimented fitness for climbing. Below I have tried to organize my thoughts into some basic questions, but I realize they might be slightly broad and general in nature.

    Currently, I am planning on putting a year training plan together with use of the TFTNA log book. I’m debating on adding an extra week in case I get sick or work gets in the way so I don’t miss any training time and could repeat a missed week and not miss out on training time. I’m completely open to any and all suggestions with regard to how I should attack my training.

    I have never completed a year long training plan before so any advice is welcome, especially if I’m completely off base or stupid about how I’m going about this!! That being said, onto the questions:

    1. You reference a recommended CTL of 75 for climbing Denali. Would that recommendation stand for the Cassin Ridge or would that number need to be closer to 100? Would the length of time held at 75-100 be longer as well?

    2. How, when, and at what volume would you include yoga and massages to aid in wellness and recovery? Would yoga count towards training weekly volume? How often would you recommend yoga for stretching and massages for recovery? Are there other forms of recovery that will help? I have lower back problems and really want to train smart, knowing full well that this will be a big undertaking.

    3. Being that I’m going to use the TFTNA annual log, is there any benefit to purchasing the 24 week big mountain training plan? I don’t have much money and unfortunately have to be very selective in where to allocate funds while saving up for the trip. What would you recommend?

    4. Being that I am an amateur athlete at best do you think it would be worth while to pay for a lab test through CU Boulder? I have completed the Aet/Ant test as described in TFTNA and applied those numbers to my Suunto account and Training Peaks currently. Again, the test is expensive and I want to be careful with money and direct it at what will benefit me the most.

    5. The ME workouts still confuse me for some reason. I read a recent article on Uphill Athlete that made it sound like these workouts need to be ultimately as long or longer in duration than the biggest anticipated day on the goal climb with pack weight at or above the pack weight anticipated on the trip. Our biggest day on Denali would be the summit bid from 14k and back again. Does that mean that I would need to work up to an ME workout that is 6k vertical gain in one workout session? Given some restrictions because of where I live and work can these workouts be done on box step ups?

    6. Do you recommend any supplements and/or vitamins during training to aid in recovery and health? I certainly am not trying to build muscle via hypertrophy, just looking for general health and support given such a high training load from week to week.

    7. I have been working for sometime on a more fat adapted diet. Are there any articles and/or books you would recommend so that I could read further on this? I believe I am currently sitting around 38% Carb, 49% Fat, and 13% Protein. How many grams of protein do you recommend per day? .5 to 1 gram per lb. of body weight?

    8. Is running a suitable zone 1/2 workout if I don’t have the ability to get to the mountains during my work week? Is there a preferred type or style of running that is best, i.e. hilly terrain on the treadmill vs. flat running on pavement outside?

    9. I was diagnosed with exercise induced asthma as a kid. It unfortunately does impair my cardiovascular fitness. Typically, I have to use an inhaler prior to the start of the workout and then I’m set to go. I’ve never had any trouble at 14k on previous climbs in Colorado or Washington though. Do you have any experience or advice on how this might affect my training as compared with a normal person, i.e. lung capacity etc…I’ve always just assumed it’s a deficit I’ve been dealt and I have to deal with it and that’s pretty much that.

    Thank you so much for your time in helping me. I’m sorry if any of these questions are stupid. I’m open to any criticism, advice, or feedback. This objective has been a dream of mine for a while that I’m trying to transition into a goal with the hope of making it a reality. I’m open to anything!

    Thanks,

    Seth

  • Participant
    adamsc on #7499

    Seth,

    If you want to look at my base period plan just drop me an email at adamscook (at) gmail. I recently got a custom 8 week plan following my TNA-inspired base plan and it has been great; I highly recommend it. I would suggest if funding is limited to run one or two base periods since you’re new to structured training, then spend your money on maybe two custom plans 16 weeks or so out from your trip. If you have just a little more money, I would also suggest the nutrition plan with Rebecca Dent which is great and includes 4 weeks of email correspondence that is basically coaching and really sets you up for success if you don’t have a nutrition background.

    I have done a lab test and I think it’s great, but it is expensive and I think you can use the prescribed UA fitness tests and get close enough. However, if you do have 100 to spend, I would suggest it because it’s also just a cool experience if you’re becoming a fitness nerd.

    If you haven’t done much structured training, I wouldn’t worry about ME for a few months at least, just base aerobic training and strength.

    The biggest supplements for me are fish oils (two caps taken on days where i don’t eat fish) and a casein protein shake at night right before bed. Otherwise I will have a whey protein shake with oats and peanut butter or some kind of variation after high intensity workouts for recovery.

    As far as Z1/2, I live on the east coast and do most of mine as running on rolling terrain. As often as possible I try to get into the ‘mountains’ for a weighted hike, but that’s maybe once a month, sometimes twice.

    -Adam

    Participant
    Colin Simon on #7502

    Seth,
    I’m unqualified to answer many of those questions, but I have gotten up stuff in AK. Happy to get out for a jaunt up green mountain if you’re around Boulder.

    Keymaster
    Scott Johnston on #7511

    Seth:

    Thanks for these questions. Here are my replies. I hope they help.

    1. You reference a recommended CTL of 75 for climbing Denali. Would that recommendation stand for the Cassin Ridge or would that number need to be closer to 100? Would the length of time held at 75-100 be longer as well?
    CTL is a reasonable measure of fitness and while these numbers have a significant amount of wiggle to them we see that these probably have a 75-80% correlation to success when we factor out weather and illness. Fitter is always better than less so aim high. Especially if you plan to summit via the W Butt then stay at 14k before descending to the start of the Cassin shoot for 100 and try to hold 80% for a a least 2-3 months. If you get too worked on the Butt you won’t have the gas for the Cassin.

    2. How, when, and at what volume would you include yoga and massages to aid in wellness and recovery? Would yoga count towards training weekly volume? Its up to you how you count volume. Just be consistent. Yoga will not improve your fitness but it may help you recover faster and allow you to handle more training. David Goettler uses yoga but never more than 2-3 x 30min / weekHow often would you recommend yoga for stretching and massages for recovery? Are there other forms of recovery that will help?Learn to self massage through rolling. See the article on recovery tools on this site. If you have enough money for massages then spend on a test at CU I have lower back problems and really want to train smart, knowing full well that this will be a big undertaking.

    3. Being that I’m going to use the TFTNA annual log, Glad to hear this but you won;t be able to calculate CTL as you first question impliedis there any benefit to purchasing the 24 week big mountain training plan? We created that plan for folks who were not able to create the same plan by using the book. If you feel you can do so then you do not need to buy this plan. They are based on the same principlesI don’t have much money and unfortunately have to be very selective in where to allocate funds while saving up for the trip. What would you recommend? Many folks have had great luck just using the book for their planning. Its a bit more work but less money since you already have it.

    4. Being that I am an amateur athlete at best do you think it would be worth while to pay for a lab test through CU Boulder? I have completed the Aet/Ant test as described in TFTNA and applied those numbers to my Suunto account and Training Peaks currently. Again, the test is expensive and I want to be careful with money and direct it at what will benefit me the most. This test will be the price of 3-4 massages and do you much more good in the long run. Suggest learning to do your own body maintenance so you can do it as needed.

    5. The ME workouts still confuse me for some reason. I read a recent article on Uphill Athlete that made it sound like these workouts need to be ultimately as long or longer in duration than the biggest anticipated day on the goal climb with pack weight at or above the pack weight anticipated on the trip. Our biggest day on Denali would be the summit bid from 14k and back again. Does that mean that I would need to work up to an ME workout that is 6k vertical gain in one workout session? YES!! If you can’t do that in Boulder without getting trashed how will you do it at 20,000ft and bounce back to do the Cassin. You’ve set a high bar with this goal. If the 14-20-14 day is a “big” day for you you’re going to have a problem in recovering enough for the CassinGiven some restrictions because of where I live and work can these workouts be done on box step ups?Read David Reoske’s articles in this site. He was doing over 10,000 vert in a stairwell in a skyscraper in NYC before his Cho Oyu/Everest with no Os back to back. If you are in Boulder I suggest using the natural terrain. Green Mtn, S. Boulder pk, etc.

    6. Do you recommend any supplements and/or vitamins during training to aid in recovery and health? I certainly am not trying to build muscle via hypertrophy, just looking for general health and support given such a high training load from week to week. Eat a good balanced diet and you should be fine unless you have some sort of medical issue. You’ll be eating plenty and if your diet contains lots of fresh veggies you should be getting adequate micro nutrients. None of the top climbers or runner or skier I work with take any nutritional supplements

    7. I have been working for sometime on a more fat adapted diet. Are there any articles and/or books you would recommend so that I could read further on this? I believe I am currently sitting around 38% Carb, 49% Fat, and 13% Protein. How many grams of protein do you recommend per day? .5 to 1 gram per lb. of body weight? Two articles on this subject right here on UA. Look around. If you are eating enough calories then, with these ratios you are getting enough protein.,

    8. Is running a suitable zone 1/2 workout if I don’t have the ability to get to the mountains during my work week? Is there a preferred type or style of running that is best, i.e. hilly terrain on the treadmill vs. flat running on pavement outside? Running is our go to aerobic training mode for most people we work with. Use hills. The steeper the better. Hike them when you can’t keep your HR in check.

    9. I was diagnosed with exercise induced asthma as a kid. It unfortunately does impair my cardiovascular fitness. Typically, I have to use an inhaler prior to the start of the workout and then I’m set to go. I’ve never had any trouble at 14k on previous climbs in Colorado or Washington though. Do you have any experience or advice on how this might affect my training as compared with a normal person, i.e. lung capacity etc…I’ve always just assumed it’s a deficit I’ve been dealt and I have to deal with it and that’s pretty much that.I’ve worked with some Olympic XC skiers with exercise induced asthma. If you can keep the inflammation down with you inhaler that should allow you to train normally. In very cold and/or dry conditions you can run into problems though. Get an “AirTrim’ mask and start trying it in very cold conditions. If you saw Cory and Adrian last spring on Everest you saw them using this great mask. XC skier use this when training in the cold

    Participant
    s.luedtke on #7572

    First off, thank you all for replying! I really appreciate all the helpful advice and feedback.

    @collin I’d love to get out. My email is s.luedtke@hotmail.com. I live just east of Fort Collins but imagine I’ll be making it to RMNP and boulder quite often during this upcoming training plan! Would love to stay in touch.

    @adamsc I shot you an email. I’d love to see what ideas you have and chat more. Thank you for all your help!


    @Scott
    Thank you so much for your thorough answers. I have spoken with CU and will be scheduling my test within the first couple weeks of February. For the test they gave me an option of running or hiking. Is one better than the other? I assumed I should do the hiking version since I’m a climber but figured I’d ask your thoughts first?

    Also, you mentioned I won’t be able to track CTL if using the annual log book. I am planning on using the log as a guide/draft of the actual training but uploading everything through training peaks. I have a GPS/HR Suunto watch that I plan on using for every workout and then supplementing the CTL/TSS numbers in training peaks for strength/climbing workouts like you talk about in your articles online. Will this be okay?

    And just to clarify, I should be trying to get over 100 CTL and hold 80% of my highest CTL number for at least 2-3 months?

    With regard to the Air Trim Mask: I’ve never used/heard of this before. I’ve been looking at them online. Am I correct that it is NOT a resistance mask (read: altitude training mask), instead it just allows air to freely flow and helps increase air temperature/humidity? Is this something you are recommending for not only training, but also using on the climb itself when it’s cold out? Very interested in this if it would help with my asthma…

    Again, thanks so much for everyone’s help. Really looking forward to this progress!!

    Cheers,

    Seth

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