In this blog series we want to find out how adventure athletes manage training and performance. Let's face it; learning and knowing how to prepare for events and overcome training obstacles is the hardest part of being an athlete, so why not learn from those out there living and breathing it.
This week we catch up with Tom Livingstone who has an inspiring list of first ascents in Alpine climbing and traditional. Based in Llanberis but spending a lot of time in the alps Tom is one of the next generational climbers pushing the limits of what's achievable.
How do you prepare for an alpine trip?
This is an enormous question but to answer it simply, I try to best prepare myself for the intended trip goals. If I’m going to Alaska to try predominately ice and mixed routes without much approach and altitude, I’ll make sure I’m climbing as much as possible, as strong as possible. I’ll spend the whole winter climbing alpine routes, Scottish winter, running around in crampons, rock climbing and dry tooling. If I’m going to the Greater Ranges (Pakistan, India and Nepal, broadly speaking), I’ll be slightly more cardio fit, and more adapted to big, multi-day endeavours. I’ll also be mentally prepared for the objective, climb lots with my partner beforehand, and get psyched!
I wrote about 6000 words on this topic on my website (Expedition and Alpine Climbing - Beta and Information), which I’ve learnt from over a decade of trips. It’s here https://www.tomlivingstone.com/climbing-blog-1/2022/2/2/expedition-beta
How structured is your training? And what does it look like?
I often ‘train by feel,’ which essentially means following a programme but not being too dedicated. I think simply going rock climbing if your goal is to rock climb, or alpine climbing if your goal is to alpine climb, is very valuable. I will try to be active and do something towards my goal almost every day. I build in rest, sleep, a healthy diet, and then try to juggle it all! I think drawing up a training plan and/or using a coach is a great way to train towards a goal using the acronym SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, timely).
What does an endurance workout look like? Do you do specific workouts such as running or hiking or do you just use the mileage from your climbing?
I do both. Endurance is about volume, so combine long days of climbing with multi-hour runs including elevation. Find whatever motivates you and use it.
How much strength training do you do; And what does it include?
I don’t do too much of this, but instead will go bouldering every now and again, or try a route (trad, sport, winter, alpine, whatever) that challenges me.
How many times per week do you train on average and how many hours per week? What does an average week look like?
I don’t count this exactly but try to exercise in a sensible and goal-orientated way every day and week. For this week, as an example, I rested and did some hangboarding on Monday, ran 800m of ascent and 15km of distance and stretched on Tuesday, went rock climbing in the Mont Blanc range and stretched on wednesday, will hopefully do the Gran Paradiso traverse on thursday/friday, and then go sport climbing and/or alpine climbing at the weekend. What is your favourite training session?
As I mentioned, training by going climbing is the most fun, but I really enjoy running for the sake of training.
What have you found works best for your performance over the years?
Being psyched, having lots of time to climb and train, going on trips regularly, and supporting partners!
What’s your next goal?
To get better!