I went recently for a 4 day trek in the Pyrenees. I registered each day’s trek with an app, but as I wasn’t wearing an HR monitor, I gave an estimate of how hard it was and let Strava and Intervals.icu calculate “relative effort” and “load” type of stats.
In all, it took about 26 hours of walking to complete the trek. This does not seem much because walking is not such a high-intensity effort, but the rough terrain, the altitude and the pace made me really tired.
When I entered “easy” as the perceived rate of effort, I got a weekly total of about 1100. At some level it seems right that I was tired after each day walking, but I was shocked that if I entered a perceived effort of “moderate”, the load would shoot up to about 1500 TSS. For reference, my usual load for a heavy week is 600-700 TSS.
Does this seem right? Is there any rule of thumb with hiking/trekking with regards to training load? The terrain was extremely rough, involving climbing up and down rocks , wearing crampons for snowy steep terrain, and such, so it was not your usual stroll.
I had an extremely lazy week after the trek, and I am still not back to my normal cycling training load, two weeks later. I am trying to understand the different types of fatigue, and how to incorporate the trekking into the rest of my calendar.
TSS was designed for cycling and has no equivalent in other sports. They have taken that model and extrapolated it to other sports like run, swim, and then miscellaneous being captured in hrTSS that can have some value, but take those values with a grain of salt. That said, trying to capture the load/fatigue on the body might be a bit of a fools errand, but probably worth the effort. That said, RPE based x volume in hours is likely going to give you a hyper-inflated value. 26 hours of training is 26 hours of training and will put a strain on the body. 1500 TSS? Probably not, but I could see 1100 for the trek being pretty close. It will likely generate the fatigue impact in the numbers. I don’t know that you will see the direct lift in fitness/CTL that will be reflected by that jump, but if you’re not too caught up in that number, it will normalize within the next 10-14 days.
Essentially, it doesn’t really matter how you calculate your hiking TSS, as long as it is consistent with your understanding of your training and meaningful. I’d suggest doing a little playing around between TR and TrainingPeaks to see what happens when you plug in things like estimated HR and RPE.
My friend did wear an HR watch, now that I think of it. He did not think much about recording the effort, even though he is also following a structured training plan. His fitness is better than mine for walking and running, and the one day he recorded the effort, his average HR was about 115 for 6 hours. I reckon mine would have been similar, if only because I run a low HR.
That’s supposed to be equivalent to recovery intensity cycling, according to my HR zones, but my legs felt like they were going to give out any minute in the downhills. I had pains all over my body for two days after the trek… for reference, I cycled about 500 hours last year, so I guess I am not a couch potato. Difficult to compare the types of efforts, that’s for sure, I guess I’ll play it by ear and go back to my usual load when I feel ready.
Think of it like strength training. Has tons of value from a strength standpoint and it plays out in repeatability and high end on the bike, but isn’t necessarily money in the bank for adaptation to stress/strain that is cycling specific. You likely used muscles you don’t typically activate… probably led to a little bit of DOMS, but there is a benefit there. If you have time to dump in some extra Z1/Z2 rides, that will probably help offset some muscle fatigue. If you’re using a TR plan, pull in a recovery week and take as many rest days as you feel you need Even if you lose a couple fitness points, the experience alone is worth it!
I did a relatively difficult hike this past Saturday. Woke up sore the next morning then went on a difficult ride with a friend (who is training for the Swiss Epic). The soreness and fatigue didn’t translate over to the bike.
Anecdotal information only.
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