How my Training Programme Meets the Challenges of Multiple Sports?

It is a delicate balance to fit in the training for both running and rock climbing whilst also allowing my body to rest and recover.  However, both sports are great for cross-training purposes as they focus on different muscle groups. And let’s be honest, I enjoy them both so much I’m not willing to give up either!

To train I work on a number of facets including technique (in both running and climbing), strength, nutrition and mental preparation. In this article, I will focus on my physical training schedule, which is how often I train for each discipline and the specific type of training in each session.  My schedule may appear a bit overwhelming and daunting to some.  The truth is I enjoy sport and being extremely active, so to me this is normal.  I would even do more if my body would allow.

My training obviously varies each week depending on which event I am training for. A standard training week includes 11 or 12 sessions.

My Standard Training Week

Standard Weekly Training 1 - Crop

When designing my training programme and the individual sessions for each week, I take into account the following:

1. Having a goal

Whenever I can the programme is built around a specific sporting goal, my next A race or challenge. I determine the type of workouts in each discipline I believe I need to succeed. However, I don’t just focus on the end goal but also on the process to get there. I concentrate on the steps I need to take to improve each day, as opposed to only focusing on the end goal itself. Each session has its own goal and needs to be a success in itself.


2. The power systems my body uses:

  •  the anaerobic system used for short efforts, which means speed/sprints for running, power/strength training for climbing
  • the aerobic system to power steady state exercise of continuous duration of longer than 3-to-4 minutes (e.g. tempo runs, long runs, power endurance for climbing) .

Both these systems are important and need to be trained to increase my anaerobic and aerobic capacity.  I make sure I work on both systems each week across the disciplines to improve my athletic performance.


3. Recovery weeks

I train in blocs of 3-4 weeks of high intensity and then have a (slightly) less demanding recovery week. The aim is to avoid overtraining and prevent injuries. My body needs time to repair and rebuild itself in order to meet the demands of my next training block. On the recovery weeks, I don’t completely stop training. Instead, I reduce the volume and/or intensity of my training.


4. My body and how I feel

 Over the years, I’ve learnt I need to listen to my body. If I feel overtired or I am underperforming, I adapt my training for the next few days or even take a couple of days off to prevent overtraining or injury (yes, it’s hard to stop but sometimes I have to force myself).
5. Taper
 I factor taper in the training phase right before an A race/event, such as a long distance race or climbing competition. I don’t taper for B races/events, they’re just part of my programme. In the weeks preceding the A race/event, I start to cut back on my training volume. For a marathon or a longer ultra-distance, I typically start tapering 2-3 weeks before the race. This reduced training phase gives me a chance to rest, recover, and mentally prepare for the race.
 6. Other aspects of my life
 Like all of us, I have other commitments in other aspects of my life such as my family, my friends and work. And of course, this leads to restrictions on the volume and type of training I can squeeze in on a single day. That’s why for me it’s so important to plan ahead to fit it all in.
Training Session Specifics
Standard Weekly Training 2 - Crop
It’s taken time to develop a training programme that works for me.  Initially, I pursued climbing and running for the love of the sport just through trips to the crags (cliffs, boulders) and unstructured runs for some fresh air. The reality is I was having a lot of fun but I didn’t know what I was doing.  This combined with my perfectionist personality, means I put pressure on myself to constantly improve my performance.  I realised “good enough” just wasn’t good enough for me.
So over the years, I learnt how to structure my training.  I read about training techniques for various sports, I tested different approaches, and had a running coach to help me prepare for my first ultra.  I ‘ve learnt that in order to get better at sport, you not only need to train hard and consistently, but also you need to be specific and structured in your training.  I’m not exactly Paula Radcliffe, but I am still progressing and really enjoying it!
Finally, at every opportunity, I will add almost any other sport to my training regime, purely for fun, like open water swimming (I still have a lot of improvement to make here), kite surfing, mountain biking, skiing etc…  the fun never stops!


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