Training for the Uphill Athlete — First Look

Post by blogger | April 10, 2019      
Training for the Uphill Athlete

Training for the Uphill Athlete

Are you self coaching an athletic life? If so, chances are you are an uphiller. And chances are you’ve spent years searching for tips on increasing the specificity of your training, as well as avoiding over-use and health issues caused by exercise addiction. Well, here it is, your coach in exposital prose; 369 pages of secret knowledge from world-class alpinist Steve House, coaching wizard Scott Johnston, and none other than The Jornet, who needs no qualifier.

I’ve turned the book over to a self-coached skimo guy for his detailed hands-on review. Below outlines what you get for a couple dozen dollars.

The tome (and that’s accurate, use it for weight training) is broken into four sections. The first will transform you to a Doctor of sport physiology. Yeah, perhaps I overstated that. But rest assured that chapters and sections dealing with everything from Darwin to the role of fat cells will keep you in your chair, under your reading light.

Second section will get you rising from said chair — but don’t head for your lycra yet. Sit back down. Here we have the methods, concepts, terms, principles. More physiology, but Jornet takes us back to the primal: “I don’t need a watch anymore,” he writes. “I can tell you my heart rate within a few beats per minute, simply by feel.” I thought only gurus in Indian ashrams could do that. I stand corrected.

Third section: Strength, baby. While the authors make it clear early-on that your cardio base is the door to happiness, they also show you need structure. So, eventually, strength training comes. Do it randomly at your peril. Moving the human curpo uphill requires specific muscle interplay. Scientific workout plans required. Don’t have a strength coach? This section is for you.

Section Four is what you came for: “How to Train.” You get five chapters here that hit concepts of planning and periodicity. Two specific chapters cover special considerations for ski mountaineering as opposed to mountain running.

This is not only a training manual. It’s also inspirational reading. The book includes innumerable vignettes they call “Athlete Stories.” Brilliant. Do your well planned workout, then head back to your recovery chair (the word “recliner” is banned) and enjoy tales from the hills, roads, and trails. Janelle Smiley, Jornet, Rickey Gates, Mike Foote, Anton Krupicka. If I kept name dropping I’d get punished by Google for word packing.

Bonus: The book goes thick because it’s loaded with full-page color hero shots. Know who Laetitia Roux is? How about her partner for Pierra Menta first place (2017), Emelie Forseberg? Buy the book. Razor out page 360, place on workout room wall. Verso is your example of “Category 2 Mountain Runner Early Base Period Week” schedule. You will be conflicted as to which side you’ll display. Both will inspire in different ways.

Don’t miss Training for the Uphill Athlete. It’s said to already be in the warehouse, retailing any day. Appears to be available from the rain forest. Best seller!


Please Enjoy A Few Suggested WildSnow Posts


11 Responses to “Training for the Uphill Athlete — First Look”

  1. Tyler April 10th, 2019 12:14 pm

    Hi Lou,
    Just a heads up, your link at the bottom connects to ‘Training for the New Alpinism’

  2. Lou Dawson 2 April 10th, 2019 12:22 pm

    Whoops! I’ll fix right away.

  3. Scott Allen April 10th, 2019 12:58 pm

    How much overlap is there with “Training for the New Alpinism”?
    That tome was heavy on physiology too!

  4. Wtofd April 10th, 2019 1:33 pm

    Scott Allen, I’m 110 pages in and am pleasantly surprised at how little overlap there is. It feels like a new book, not a rehash. Some concepts are repeated but this is a book about training leg-borne endurance. It’s well worth purchasing if you’ve already bout TftNA.

  5. Tim Case April 10th, 2019 1:54 pm

    Echoing what Wtofd said, not too much overlap, some updated concepts and a great narrative that reads more like a book than a manual…it’s really quite something! There’s also a great podcast, The Dissect, that dances around these topics and more and is worth a listen as well…

  6. Scott Gilpin April 10th, 2019 2:27 pm

    I’ve read through most of the book – just a quick first read. I agree with all of the positives that the review mentions. Here’s a few things that I would have liked to have seen covered (although admittedly a book has to draw the line somewhere):
    * Nutrition. Other than the random comment about taking in calories within 30-60 minutes after a workout, there wasn’t much mention of nutrition.
    * Altitude. If there was any discussion of how training at higher altitudes (e.g. above 8,000 ft – most of Colorado’s mountains), then I missed it.
    * Sport specific heart rates. My basic understanding of exercise physiology is that your lactate threshold will be different for different sports. Is this true for mountain running and skiing uphill? Maybe not – but something that explicitly mentions using the same thresholds for both sports would be useful.
    * Treadmill – I would love to run in the mountains every day – but in reality it’s not possible. Given that, where should the use of a treadmill fall into one’s training? Am I better off going for a flat run for an hour, or spend an hour grinding uphill at 15% (assuming the heart rate is equal for both)?
    * Downhill running. They mention downhill running in a couple of places, but as I recall it was something along the lines of “if you want to be fast at downhills, you’ve got to practice fast downhills”. My problem is that I can totally trash my legs with a 15 minute technical downhill, yet my heart rate never gets above aerobic threshold. How should I think about a workout like this?
    * Finally, my complaint with just about every endurance training book is that it assumes I have unlimited time to train. But what if I only have 4 hours a week? What is optimal? What about 6 hours a week? etc, etc.

    But overall, I loved the book, found it easy to understand and read and as mentioned above I particularly enjoyed the Athlete Stories and the photos. This one will have a place on my nightstand for a long time to come.

  7. Mitch R. April 10th, 2019 8:04 pm

    This is a great book with state-of-the-art discussions on training and exercise science.

    Very different from their first book.

    If you are serious about your performance, this book deserves to be closely read seversl times.

    I just wished it was published 25 years ago to save me from devising my own training plans by trial and error.

  8. Mark W April 11th, 2019 9:59 am

    I suspect that I read for the first time here the word, “periodicity.” Who could argue when dealing in such a nuanced training tome? Might have to give at look.

  9. Mitch R. April 11th, 2019 10:36 am

    Johnson published a few columns on his website in 2016 in which he stresses periodically measuring your aerobic threshold and slowly reducing the gap between the aerobic threshold and lactate threshold as the key for optimum performance.

    He further expands upon that process in this book and provides a couple of ways for one to self measure their aerobic threshold. This is all new material that I have not found in his previous book or in my other fitness books. All my other exercise books, if they mention it, say that that test must be done in the lab and leave it at that.

    I wish I had his training plans for running big mountain 100 milers 25 years ago. Instead, we trained by trial and error; namely those who ran the most and fastest hill repeats were the strongest. That method worked pretty good.

  10. Dave April 11th, 2019 5:10 pm

    Every had core extreme athlete should read:
    The Haywire Heart: by Lennard Zinn
    You can over do it

  11. wtofd April 18th, 2019 8:41 am

    Scott G, your questions will be answered over at the Uphill Athlete site. If you can’t find articles there addressing your questions, try the forums.

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