Coming back from Khan Tengri – Sliding straight into the “Specific training period”.

After a try out expedition that couldn’t be more interesting, it is now time to take the next step in training. The last couple of weeks on the Khan Tengri mountain gave us plenty of knew knowledge on what to expect and how both guys react under these though conditions. Bad luck on the weather was the biggest obstruction on Khan Tengri. It made them wait in base camp for a very long time due to heavy snowfall and fierce winds. Even all this waiting in a cold environment at an altitude of 4000m above sea level requires an outstanding physical condition. After more than a week of waiting they decided to leave base camp around midnight, setting of for a long long climbing night and day heading straight for camp 2 (5200m). I was at home waiting on a message over the satellite telephone for them to confirm they had made it. The message didn’t come for a very long time. (I do have to admit this was good training for the “home stayers” as well ;).) When finally the following message fell into the mailbox;

“We made it safely to camp 2. It was very very though and the weather conditions are so poor.”

I realized that they had been climbing for over 15 hours! Half of the time in pitch darkness, accompanied by heavy wind true thick layers of fresh snow, with the risk of avalanches. This is no walk in the park, this is giving it all. With less than 4 months to go we need to scale up the training.

After creating as much endurance capacity as we could during the base period, we now want to train up to the more specific aspects of next years challenge. Looking for as much physical as mental thresholds. I will build up these training schedules step by step until they finally reach the uncomfortable. I want them to become familiar with this feeling, and even more… I want them to become friends with it. I want them to be very well known of their bodies respond to that feeling and in this way gain more and more trust in their own physique.

Now, how do we implement this into the training schedules? Before entering the next phase of the training periodization I want them to accomplish the same test as the did at the start of the base period. I simply want to have an up to date starting position based on the outcome and determine new goals, as we did in the previous periods. I convinced them to empty their agenda’s even more and prepare themselves and their environment that these training moments are going to be their top priority for the next couple of months. A constant state of fatigue is expected, both as entering a very mentally challenging period.

To build up the schedule we need to clear out the specific components of the climbs. To be prepared to climb all 7 Summits in one year we want to practice on dealing with; long days of steady physical effort – climbing on unequal surfaces – the altitude – heavy colds – very little sleep – taking in different types of nutrition – a lot of pressure on the joints (mostly because of the long and hard descents) – carrying a heavy back pack for a long long time – missing home – being in very remote environments – collecting data and sent it home (even if they don’t feel like lifting another arm anymore), and I’m very sure more pops up as we go along.

All these different aspects are going to be implemented one by one in the upcoming period. Let’s have a close look at the first 2 weeks of the “Specific training period”. Taking an overall look shows that these 2 weeks offer a little more time off. This is to create more focus on the actual work outs and to provide them with more recovery time between these tougher tasks. The endurance work outs in the schedule are more focused on an interval structure (differ in pace and load). This generates more overall capacity faster and is way more strenuous on the muscles, joints and cardiovascular system. To make sure the effort is done in the right zone we again work with accurate hart rate measurements. This will at the same time get them more familiar with taking up measurements and become more aware of the sensation they get while being in a certain hart rate zone. I asked them to keep a log and report it back to me. In the cycling work out you can see that training with altitude simulation is implemented. To simulate the altitude we train with a specific machine that provides low oxygen dense air trough a mask that needs to be places over the mouth while cycling. The air that comes out is not exactly the same as the air in the mountains at high altitude but it equals it very closely. This is our best way to train this aspect with no mountains in our back yard. To mimic the discomfort of climbing and hiking with a heavy back on unequal surfaces I let them take weight and look for hilly environments during most of the runs. And at last we look at the strength work out. Mainly the focus is on the muscles and joints that are going to be challenged during descending. We work with super sets, meaning the load of the exercises builds up each set. Obviously I asked them to grade each work out. It is now time to look fort he maximum grading. It is now time to give it all.

Do it yourself!

To create your own training schedule for the specific period, you want to follow the steps as written above. Start with determining the starting position, clear out which challenges you are going to face on your expedition. Then try to set goals as close to your ultimate capacity and prepare yourself and your environment to create maximum focus. Be ready for a few months of heavy training. I promise you, once in the mountains you will benefit a lot from all this effort. You are going to be rewarded for it by enjoying the mountains much more!

f you like me to have a look at your schedule or you have any questions you like to ask us, feel free to writ us in the comments below or send me an email to; [email protected]

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