Not long to go now until the start of our 2017 season, but just time for a last motivational blog post:
Even though there are only a few weeks left before your Mont Blanc attempt they could still make the difference between success and failure, so keep going with your training right to the end, lose any surplus weight you can (see this post) and stick with the suffering just a little bit longer; remember everyone gets a bit of a kicking on Mont Blanc so you really can’t be too fit. Get in as many multi-hour sessions as you can and get outside of your comfort zone for as long as possible, this is a really tough thing you’ve taken on here and going for long rolling hikes isn’t going to be nearly enough.
This “RPE” or “Rate of Perceived Exertion” chart gives a rough idea of how one feels at different levels of physical activity. You’ll need to put in about 6-7 hours of work on the day to reach Mont Blanc’s summit and the majority of people will spend something like 30% in zones 4-6, 60% in zones 7-8, and 10% in zone 9 during the ascent. If you need to go into zone 9 other than on the occasional steep, awkward section, it’s probably time to think about turning around while you’ve still got enough energy to make a safe descent.
Obviously most people don’t have access to mountainous terrain to train on, but it nevertheless remains a principle of training that the best way to prepare for an event is to replicate it as closely as possible. It won’t be technical difficulty that stops you on Mont Blanc ( and we’ll train you to deal with that in any case), if anything it’s going to be your fitness that holds you back, as well as possibly even causing you to be more affected by the altitude (see this post).
Of the training you’ve done so far, how much of it can you honestly say was in zone 7-8 or above? I am not a sports scientist but based on many years of doing this sort of thing I think this is where you need to be to get maximum results, especially as this is where you’ll spend a lot of your time on Mont Blanc. When you first arrive in zone 7-8 you initially feel like you can’t hold it, but then a deeper rhythmic breathing seems to kick in and you reach a slightly uncomfortable but stable equilibrium; cyclists and runners will already be familiar with this, but if endurance sport is new to you it would be a good idea to experience how this feels as often as possible before your Mont Blanc climb. The physiological benefits will likely be considerable, and being familiar with exercising at this level will make you more confident during your ascent.
I’ve used it many times in articles I’ve written on training for Mont Blanc, but I can’t do any better than a quote from a previous client of ours Dominic Irvine, himself a professional sports coach:
“You will either suffer during your training or suffer during the course”
No truer words were ever spoken. Give yourself the satisfaction of turning up in Chamonix feeling well prepared, then whatever happens you’ll know you couldn’t have done much more (and who knows you might even enjoy it). Whatever the outcome, it’s extremely unlikely you’ll go home thinking you trained harder than you needed to.
Good luck and we look forward to climbing with you.