Transitioning to TFTNA. Volume seems low?

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  • #48905
    Tyler Johnson
    Participant

    Hi everyone,

    I recently bought TftNA and am trying to switch my current training program over. I’ve seen some progress with my current program, but it’s basically a cobbled together 5k->10k running program on top of Starting Strength, climbing 1-2/wk, and incrementally harder hikes.

    Q: Should I be dropping my hours and/or cutting the hikes out of my training? It seems like the allocated volume isn’t there in TftNA to allow for longer hikes. If you start with the previous year guesstimate of 250 hours for an “Active Climber”, you start the transition phase at ~2.5hrs a week and max out in week 15/17 at ~7.5 hrs. At the highest recommendation, that only allows for a 2:15hr hike.

    For example, this was a recent (heavy) week for me:

    Mon: Run (38min)
    Tues: Core exercise (TRX repeats), Hangboarding (1 hr)
    Weds: Strength (Front Squat, Power Clean, Overhead Press) (35min)
    Thurs: Run (40min)
    Fri: Rest
    Sat: Climbing (2 hrs)
    Sun: Hike (5:32hrs, 10.9mi 3386 ascent, 20lbs)

    It seems like everything other than the hike transfer over well to TftNA – i.e. cut the longer runs into multiple shorter, modify the strength training a bit, add in recovery exercises.

    I’d appreciate any insight. For extra info, my objectives this year: Mt Shasta via Avalanche Gulch, Mt Whitney via East Buttress, White Mountain Peak (14mi day hike)

    Bonus Q: Is it recommended I restart at the beginning of the transition phase? I’m not sure where to go in terms of volume, considering the ~3x increase throughout the program.

    Thanks!

  • Moderator
    LindsayTroy on #48906

    Hey Tyler, I’m certainly not a coach, but I’m on my 3rd cycle of TFNA/TFUA. I felt similarly about volume and started my volume at 4hs/wk rather than 2.5.

    Also, I decided to make a concerted effort to track strength and climbing more accurately. Yes, you were climbing for 2 hours, but were you moving on the wall for 2 hours? I found I was moving about 5-10 min per pitch (I timed myself at the gym and at the crag the first few times) then I just multiplied my # pitches * 5 min (if the were easy or if I was on TR and 10 min if they were hard/I was on lead).

    For strength, I found it was too variable since I would rest a lot more when lifting heavy and it didn’t quite feel right to only count the time I was moving the bar since heavy low volume days felt harder (with longer recovery) than easier high volume days so I just decided that all strength workouts (as long as I completed my whole program for the day) counted as 45 min.

    I always re-start the transition period and consider it a grace period for me to actually get the right workouts in on the right day. So during my transition phase I’m just trying to hit the time goal and less bothered about hitting it with the right activity, I consider it a period where I can dial in my activity to match my training plan whereas the base period I’m more strict about how I hit the numbers.

    Moderator
    Shashi on #48969

    Tyler,

    You might find this forum discussion helpful –

    Starting to Train – Too Conservative on Volume?

    Wish you the best!

    Participant
    Tyler Johnson on #49162

    Thank you Lindsay and Shashi!

    After reading through the book and hours of forum posts and articles, I came to the conclusion that I probably needed to cut back on the hikes that were pushing me to exhaustion and focus on building my aerobic base. I don’t know if hiking was putting me in Z3+ or not, but it was definitely wiping me out from a fatigue perspective and would regularly take 48-72 hrs of recovery.

    Would you mind giving me a sanity check on my program? This was the last week of training that I did, but I’m not sure whether I over or undertrained based on my target of 2.5 hrs (going with the original guesstimate from the book).

    Day 1: Strength (0:40:00, Grade C)
    Day 2: Run (0:44:10, Z2, Grade B)
    Day 3: Strength (0:32:44, Grade A), Cycle (0:27:10, Z1, Grade B)
    Day 4: Walk (0:31:08, Easy/Recovery)
    Day 5: Run (0:22:07, Z1, Grade A), Walk (0:32:52, Easy/Recovery)
    Day 6: Cycle (0:10:40, Easy/Recovery)
    Day 7: Climbing (5 pitches, Grade B+), Approach/Hike (0:42:12, 33.5lbs, Z1, Grade A)

    Weekly Target: 2:30:00

    Total time: 6:45:03
    Total aerobic: 3:30:19
    Total non-recovery aerobic: 2:26:19

    I wasn’t sure whether non-aerobic hours (strength, climbing) didn’t count AT ALL towards the volume, or whether they simply don’t scale as you expand the volume (since they increase via intensity, not time).

    I also wasn’t sure whether to count things like “went for an easy bike ride / walk around the neighborhood”, even though in the book it says to make up the remaining aerobic time with Z1 and recovery.

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    Moderator
    TerryLui on #49182

    I’d suggest doing an AeT and AnT test to see where your thresholds are.
    Because right now as you ask whether we think you’re overdoing it or not…we don’t know what your “base” is at (which is where the AeT and AnT tests will help identify).

    Aerobic Self-Assessment for Mountain Athletes

    I don’t know if hiking was putting me in Z3+ or not, but it was definitely wiping me out from a fatigue perspective and would regularly take 48-72 hrs of recovery.

    This is most telling…if you’re performing within your AeT then you should be able to do the exact same workout the next day, and the day after, and the day after that.
    2-3 days of fatigue, to me, says you were well into your anaerobic zone.

    Hope that helps!

    Moderator
    Shashi on #49183

    Tyler,
    Thank you for sharing the spreadsheet. I like how you are capturing workout notes/grade.

    Few comments/questions:

    a. Have you done your AeT/AnT tests? You are setting training intensity zones based on % of Max. HR which may or may not be accurate.

    b. In the 24-Week Mountaineering Plan I follow, here is what a Transition week looks like:
    Mon-Rest, Tue-Core & General Strength, Wed – Run/Hike on Hilly Terrain <=AeT, Thu-Recovery Run/Jog, Fri-Core & General Strength, Sat-Run/Hike <=AeT, Sun- Long Run/Hike on Hilly Terrain <=AeT

    In your first week, I see two easy/recovery days and no rest days. I would recommend having a rest day in a week. As you add volume the rest day will be helpful.

    In the training plan, there is a two-day gap between strength sessions, which has been helpful once I get into longer and more strenuous strength sessions. Just a thought to plan your strength sessions going ahead.

    Your AeT/AnT will help determine which Zone you will be training in for aerobic workouts.

    c. All hours – strength, climbing, recovery (Z1), etc. count towards your weekly training volume. In your spreadsheet, you have 2 hours for climbing. I would estimate the time you were actually climbing and just include this time in your total.

    d. Your volume for the first week seems high if your target was 2.5 hours. Maybe this volume is right for you based on your training background, but I would be conservative.

    Here is what @SWS had to say in this forum post –

    It’s okay if the transition phase feels quite easy. It should feel easy. It lays the basic groundwork for more work later on.

    Hope this is helpful.

    • This reply was modified 1 month, 2 weeks ago by Shashi.
    Participant
    Tyler Johnson on #49199

    a. Have you done your AeT/AnT tests? You are setting training intensity zones based on % of Max. HR which may or may not be accurate.

    That’s one of my tasks for this week. I only yesterday received a chest strap HRM. Until now I’ve been using the nose-breathing test and perceived effort. Unfortunately I think I can breath through my nose at fairly high levels of effort, but overall I think I’ve been staying in ~Z1.

    c. All hours – strength, climbing, recovery (Z1), etc. count towards your weekly training volume. In your spreadsheet, you have 2 hours for climbing. I would estimate the time you were actually climbing and just include this time in your total.

    d. Your volume for the first week seems high if your target was 2.5 hours. Maybe this volume is right for you based on your training background, but I would be conservative.

    Thank you! This is exactly what I needed! After adjusting the climbing time down, I still did around double the target volume. I’m going to significantly decrease the volume for this week – and start tracking it correctly.

    Again, I appreciate all the help. I’m sure I’ll have more questions later, but this has given me a lot to work with.

    Moderator
    LindsayTroy on #49203

    One thing that I’ll add is the weight you’re carrying. I try to do a progressive increase in weight over the program so I get that you’re climbing and don’t want to be a slacker, but starting transition week 1 with 33.5lbs seems like a lot especially for a 45min approach. From your photo, you look like 33.5lbs is a rather substantial % of your bodyweight to carry.

    I agree with everyone else that you did much more than 2.5 hours of training. By my estimation, you did 4.66hrs + climbing. Not sure how long you spent on each pitch, but if you were me, I’d estimate you were on the wall 1/3 of the time you were climbing. So 0.66 hrs making a total of 5.3 hrs of training this week.

    Participant
    Tyler Johnson on #49204

    Hi Lindsay,
    Totally agree. Unfortunately the 33.5lbs was all gear, so there wasn’t much to dump unless I wanted to leave behind food or water. Luckily the approach isn’t too steep <400ft and the approach time was round trip.

    I appreciate the comments!

    Participant
    hikerobby on #49544

    The only thing I have to add is that if you have been doing Starting Strength, then you likely are squatting and deadlifting a ton, which can take a lot to recover from if you continue at that level (I have done it and was squatting 280 and Deadlifting 350 which is completely unnecessary and not sport-specific and gave me weird pains). What I have read around here is that heavy lifting is incompatible w svelt climbing. You likely have more strength than is needed for the general strength program and I would skip to the max strength focus on the one-legged step-ups and step-downs that the mountaineering and Ultrarunning plans use. In other words, I would focus your time on your running and aerobic system since Starting Strength likely has you stronger than you need to be, you could do a “Mini-Max” workout from the 24-week plan to maintain strength during the transition period.

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