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Training planners for Icicle courses
Introduction to training
Training preparations
Types of exercise
Icicle training planners
Personal trainers
  This is the key page of the training section of the website, in which we outline a range of training planners, that you can select from to prepare you for your course. The planners range from gaining basic fitness, to elite mountain fitness to prepare you for a 100km mountain race, so there's plenty of levels in between to choose from, and we advise which courses suit which level.
Hate running? If you can't run due to knee problems, it is unlikely that you can undertake a mountain based climbing or skiing course.
Training planners developed by professionals

All of the training planners below were produced by fitness professionals, who are qualified personal trainers. If you have any queries about any of the planners and are a course client, advice is free.
For those not on courses, click on the logo on the right for details of our trainers, and the tariffs for training and advice.

1a 'Gaining basic fitness' - building up to running for 30 minute periods

1b 'Last minute 3 week booster' - three week very intense traininf plan

2 'Objective 10km race' - working towards running 10km in under an hour

3 'Objective Mont Blanc' - ten week planner built into training phases

4 'Real all mountain fitness' - for those running 1/2 marathon in c.90mins

4b 'Endurance mountain fitness' - for those on 2 week long Alpine courses

5 'Elite moutain fitness'
- for those running a ultra marathon 100km race
Training planner 1a - 'Gaining basic fitness'

Aimed at
: Assumes absolutely no fitness at all, and builds you up to running for 30 minutes over 8 weeks. Each season people contact us saying "It's a few months to my course, and I haven't done any training yet. What should I do?". Ignoring the urge to say "Put the phone down, don't go to McDonalds, get your running kit on, and get outside", below is a training planner for you.

Course suitability
: None - this is the pre-training planner!

Safety note
:
If you have really done no training before this, then we strongly advise you to get medical advice before starting training.
Wk
Day of the week
Mon
Tue
Wed
Thu
Fri
Sat
Sun
1
REST DAY
1 min run, 90 secs
walk, Repeat x 8
REST DAY
1 min run, 90 secs
walk, Repeat x 8
REST DAY
1 min run, 90 secs
walk, Repeat x 8
REST DAY
2
REST DAY
2 min run, 1 min
walk, Repeat x 7
REST DAY
2 min run, 1 min
walk, Repeat x 7
REST DAY
2 min run, 1 min
walk, Repeat x 7
REST DAY
3
REST DAY
3 min run, 1 min
walk, Repeat x 6
REST DAY
3 min run, 1 min
walk, Repeat x 6
REST DAY
3 min run, 1 min
walk, Repeat x 6
REST DAY
4
REST DAY
5 min run, 2 min
walk, Repeat x 4
REST DAY
5 min run, 2 min
walk, Repeat x 4
REST DAY
5 min run, 2 min
walk, Repeat x 4
REST DAY
5
REST DAY
8 min run, 2 min
walk, Repeat x 3
REST DAY
8 min run, 2 min
walk, Repeat x 3
REST DAY
8 min run, 2 min
walk, Repeat x 3
REST DAY
6
REST DAY
12 min run, 1 min
walk, Repeat x 3
REST DAY
12 min run, 1 min
walk, Repeat x 3
REST DAY
12 min run, 1 min
walk, Repeat x 3
REST DAY
7
REST DAY
15 min run, 1 min
walk, 15 min run
REST DAY
15 min run, 1 min
walk, 15 min run
REST DAY
15 min run, 1 min
walk, 15 min run
REST DAY
8
REST DAY
30 min continuous
run, then stretch
REST DAY
30 min continuous
run, then stretch
REST DAY
30 min continuous
run, then stretch
REST DAY
Training planner 1b - 'Last minute 3 week booster'

Aimed at
: Assumes you have booked last minute, and need a three week very intense planner to build you up from average fitness, as much as possible in a limited timescale. Please note that intentionally this is a short and hard planner, and is in no way a shortcut for those who have more time before travel, to follow one of the longer training plans, designed around training periods.

Course suitability
: This is only a last minute, get fit quick booster!

Safety note
:
If you have really done no training before this, then this intense three week plan is unsuitable, and so probably is the idea of a course too...
Wk
Day of the week
Mon
Tue
Wed
Thu
Fri
Sat
Sun
1
60 minutes
running steady pace
60 minutes
running steady pace
REST DAY
60 minutes running with 8 intervals of 2 minutes fast, 30 secs jogging
60 minutes
running steady pace
REST DAY
60 minutes
run cross country
2
60 minutes
running steady pace
60 minutes
run cross country
REST DAY
60 minutes running with 8 intervals of 2 minutes fast, 30 secs jogging
60 minutes
running steady pace
60 minutes running with 8 intervals of 2 minutes fast, 30 secs jogging
REST DAY
3
60 minutes
run cross country
60 minutes
running steady pace
REST DAY
60 minutes running with 8 intervals of 2 minutes fast, 30 secs jogging
90 minutes
run cross country
30 minutes running with 8 intervals of 2 minutes fast, 30 secs jogging
REST DAY
/ TRAVEL
Training planner 2 - 'Objective 10km race'

Aimed at
:
Builds you up from running for 20 minutes, towards a suitable fitness for running a ten kilometer race. if you are attempting a 4000m peak (ie the Summer Intro course), then you should compete this training planner.

Course suitability
: This is the training planner for a basic level of fitness, for the easier courses such as the Summer Alpine Intro, off piste skiing courses, snowshoeing and trekking courses, and weekend courses. For courses where there are big height gains (over 1300m in a day) or days longer than 8 hours on foot, look at training planner 3. This is a minimum level for any of our courses.
Wk
Day of the week
Mon
Tue
Wed
Thu
Fri
Sat
Sun
1
REST DAY
20-25 minutes
easy running
REST DAY
10 mins easy run, then 4x1 min brisk
with 2 min recovery, then 10 mins easy
REST DAY
20 mins
easy run
30 mins
easy run
2
REST DAY
20-25 minutes
easy running
REST DAY
10 mins easy run, then 5x1.5 min brisk
with 2.5 min recovery, then 10 mins easy
REST DAY
20 mins
easy run
35 mins
easy run
3
REST DAY
25-30 minutes
easy running
REST DAY
10 mins easy run, then 20 mins running
at a moderate pace, then warm down
REST DAY
25 min
easy run
40 mins
easy run
4
REST DAY
10 mins easy, 1 mile
fast, then 10 mins easy
REST DAY
10 mins easy, followed by 20 minutes run
at a moderate pace, then 10 mins easy
REST DAY
20 mins
easy run
45 mins
easy run
5
REST DAY
25-30 minutes
easy running
REST DAY
10 mins easy run, then 3x3 min brisk
with 3 min jog recovery, then 10 mins easy
REST DAY
30 mins
easy run
45 mins
easy run
6
REST DAY
25 mins, inc 6x 30sec
faster paced running
REST DAY
20-25 minutes easy running
REST DAY
15 mins
easy run
10 KM
RACE
Training planner 3 - 'Objective Mont Blanc'

Aimed at
:
This is the big 10 week training planner that builds you up to a major peak (e.g. Mont Blanc by the Gouter Route) level of fitness. The net aim of this planner is to build you up to about the standard to run a half marathon level of fitness. This is the absolute minimum required for an ascent such as Mont Blanc. For those undertaking major ascents, such as the one week Mont Blanc course by the Gouter Route, you should just undertake this training planner.

Course suitability
: All summer climbing courses above intro level, winter ice courses, ski touring weeks, long treks (eg GR20), Kilimanjaro, etc.
Wk
Phase of
training
Day of the week
Mon
Tue
Wed
Thu
Fri
Sat
Sun
1
Build Up Phase
20 minutes
runnning
20 minutes
running
REST DAY
30 minutes
runnning
REST DAY
30 minutes
runnning
Climbing
Wall 2 hrs
2
Strength / Power
30 minutes
runnning
REST DAY
30 minutes
runnning
Cross
Country
REST DAY
30 minutes
runnning
Climbing
Wall 2 hrs
3
Strength / Power
Cross
Country
30 minutes
runnning
REST DAY
Cross
Country
REST DAY
30 minutes
runnning
Climbing
Wall 2 hrs
4
Transition Phase
30 minutes
runnning
REST DAY
45 minutes
running
Cross
Country
REST DAY
45 minutes
running
Climbing
Wall 2 hrs
5
Stamina Phase
REST DAY
Cross
Country
Cross
Country
45 minutes
running
REST DAY
Cross
Country
Climbing
Wall 2 hrs
6
Stamina Phase
Cross
Country
REST DAY
60 minutes
running
45 minutes
running
REST DAY
Cross
Country
Climbing
Wall 2 hrs
7
Transition Phase
45 min run /
2 hr cycle
REST DAY
Cross
Country
45 min run /
2 hr cycle
REST DAY
Cross
Country
Climbing
Wall 2 hrs
8
Power / Endurance
REST DAY
45 min run /
2 hr cycle
Cross
Country
45 min run /
2 hr cycle
REST DAY
45 min run /
2 hr cycle
Climbing
Wall 2 hrs
9
Power / Endurance
45 min run /
2 hr cycle
REST DAY
Cross
Country
45 min run /
2 hr cycle
REST DAY
45 min run /
2 hr cycle
Climbing
Wall 2 hrs
10
Warm Down
REST DAY
45 min run /
2 hr cycle
REST DAY
Cross
Country
REST DAY
45 min run /
2 hr cycle
REST DAY
11
THE COURSE
Climbing
Climbing
Climbing
Climbing
Climbing
REST DAY
REST DAY
Training planner 4 - 'Real All Mountain Fitness'

Aimed at
:
This is the big 10 week training planner that builds you up to a major Alpine peaks (e.g. the Matterhorn or Mont Blanc via the Trois Mont Blancs route) level of fitness. If you complete this planner you should be more than capable of running a half marathon (on road) in a good time comfortably under 1 hour 45 minutes. It assumes your starting level of fitness is as per end of planner 2.

Course suitability
: For all of our top level climbing or ski touring courses, this is the ideal level of fitness to aim for. Also this is the level for the majority of our expeditions (eg Aconcagua and Mount Elbrus).
Wk
Phase of
training
Day of the week
Mon
Tue
Wed
Thu
Fri
Sat
Sun
1
Build Up Phase
30 minutes
runnning
30 minutes
running
REST DAY
40 minutes
runnning
REST DAY
40 minutes
runnning
Climbing
Wall 2 hrs
2
Strength / Power
40 minutes
runnning
REST DAY
40 minutes
runnning
Cross
Country
REST DAY
40 minutes
runnning
Climbing
Wall 2 hrs
3
Strength / Power
Cross
Country
45 minutes
runnning
REST DAY
Cross
Country
REST DAY
45 minutes
runnning
Climbing
Wall 2 hrs
4
Transition Phase
45 minutes
runnning
REST DAY
60 minutes
running
Cross
Country
REST DAY
60 minutes
running
Climbing
Wall 2 hrs
5
Stamina Phase
REST DAY
Cross
Country
Cross
Country
60 minutes
running
REST DAY
Cross
Country
Climbing
Wall 2 hrs
6
Stamina Phase
Cross
Country
REST DAY
90 minutes
running
45 minutes
running
REST DAY
Cross
Country
Climbing
Wall 2 hrs
7
Transition Phase
60 minutes
running
REST DAY
Cross
Country
60 minutes
running
REST DAY
Cross
Country
Climbing
Wall 2 hrs
8
Power / Endurance
REST DAY
60 minutes
running
Cross
Country
60 minutes
running
REST DAY
60 minutes
running
Climbing
Wall 2 hrs
9
Power / Endurance
60 minutes
running
REST DAY
Cross
Country
60 minutes
running
REST DAY
60 minutes
running
Climbing
Wall 2 hrs
10
Warm Down
REST DAY
60 minutes
running
REST DAY
Cross
Country
REST DAY
45 minutes
running
REST DAY
11
THE COURSE
Climbing
Climbing
Climbing
Climbing
Climbing
REST DAY
REST DAY
Training planner 4b - 'Endurance Mountain Fitness'

Aimed at
:
This is the big 10 week training planner that builds you up for a two week or longer period of climbing major Alpine peaks (e.g. the Matterhorn or Mont Blanc), where your endurance and fitness level needs to be higher, to allow for better recovery between climbs over a multi-week duration (e.g. Mont Blanc Autonomy course). If you complete this planner you should be more than capable of running a half marathon (on road) in a good time comfortably under 1 hour 45 minutes. It assumes your starting level of fitness is as per end of planner 3.

Course suitability
: For all two or more week long trips in the Alps.
Wk
Phase of
training
Day of the week
Mon
Tue
Wed
Thu
Fri
Sat
Sun
1
Build Up Phase
60 minutes
runnning
60 minutes
running
REST DAY
90 minutes
runnning
REST DAY
90 minutes
runnning
Climbing
Wall 2 hrs
2
Strength / Power
90 minutes
runnning
REST DAY
90 minutes
runnning
Cross
Country
REST DAY
90 minutes
runnning
Climbing
Wall 2 hrs
3
Strength / Power
Cross
Country
90 minutes
runnning
REST DAY
Cross
Country
REST DAY
90 minutes
runnning
Climbing
Wall 2 hrs
4
Transition Phase
90 minutes
runnning
REST DAY
120 minutes
running
Cross
Country
REST DAY
120 minutes
running
Climbing
Wall 2 hrs
5
Stamina Phase
REST DAY
Cross
Country
Cross
Country
120 minutes
running
REST DAY
Cross
Country
Climbing
Wall 2 hrs
6
Stamina Phase
Cross
Country
REST DAY
180 minutes
running
90 minutes
running
REST DAY
Cross
Country
Climbing
Wall 2 hrs
7
Transition Phase
120 minutes
running
REST DAY
Cross
Country
120 minutes
running
REST DAY
Cross
Country
Climbing
Wall 2 hrs
8
Power / Endurance
REST DAY
120 minutes
running
Cross
Country
120 minutes
running
REST DAY
120 minutes
running
Climbing
Wall 2 hrs
9
Power / Endurance
120 minutes
running
REST DAY
Cross
Country
120 minutes
running
REST DAY
120 minutes
running
Climbing
Wall 2 hrs
10
Warm Down
REST DAY
120 minutes
running
REST DAY
Cross
Country
REST DAY
90 minutes
running
REST DAY
11
THE COURSE
Climbing
Climbing
Climbing
Climbing
Climbing
REST DAY
REST DAY
Training planner 5 - 'Elite Level Mountain Fitness'

Aimed at
:
This is a 16 week training planner aimed at those preparing for a 100km trail race or activity of equivalent aerobic and physical commitment. Don't panic, you don't need to follow this planner for any of our courses. It is offered for general information, for those who are interested.

Course suitability
: This is generally beyond the requirements of any of our standard courses, except perhaps for bespoke projects such as climbing very hard routes on a 1:1 basis. This planner is more for ultra-marathon training.
Wk
Day of the week
Mon
Tue
Wed
Thu
Fri
Sat
Sun
1
REST
15km, inc 4 x 1.5km at 1/2 marathon pace
Easy 8km
15km, mid 5km at marathon pace
REST
90 min run
3 hour run
2
REST
15km, inc 4 x 1.5km at 1/2 marathon pace
Easy 8km
15km, mid 5km at marathon pace
REST
90 min run
3 hour run
3
REST
15km, inc 2 x 3km at 1/2 marathon pace
Easy 8km
15km, mid 5km at marathon pace
REST
90 min run
3 hour run
4
REST
12km, inc 3 x 1.5km at 1/2 marathon pace
Easy 8km
10km, mid 3km at marathon pace
REST
90 min run
2 hour run
5
REST
15km, inc 6 x 1.5km at 1/2 marathon pace
Easy 8km
15km, mid 5km at marathon pace
REST
4 hour run
3 hour run
6
REST
15km, inc 6 x 1.5km at 1/2 marathon pace
Easy 8km
15km, mid 5km at marathon pace
REST
4 hour run
3 hour run
7
REST
15km, inc 6 x 1.5km at 1/2 marathon pace
Easy 8km
15km, mid 5km at marathon pace
REST
4 hour run
3 hour run
8
REST
15km, inc 3 x 3km at 1/2 marathon pace
Easy 8km
15km, mid 5km at marathon pace
REST
2 hour run
3 hour run
9
REST
15km, inc 6 x 1.5km at 1/2 marathon pace
Easy 8km
15km, mid 5km at marathon pace
REST
4 hour run
3 hour run
10
REST
15km, inc 6 x 1.5km at 1/2 marathon pace
Easy 8km
15km, mid 5km at marathon pace
REST
4 hour run
4 hour run
11
REST
15km, inc 3 x 3km at 1/2 marathon pace
Easy 8km
15km, mid 5km at marathon pace
REST
3 hour run
3 hour run
12
REST
15km, inc 6 x 1.5km at 1/2 marathon pace
Easy 8km
15km, mid 5km at marathon pace
REST
4 hour run
5 hour run
13
REST
15km, inc 6 x 1.5km at 1/2 marathon pace
Easy 8km
15km, mid 5km at marathon pace
REST
4 hour run
5 hour run
14
REST
15km, inc 4 x 1.5km at 1/2 marathon pace
Easy 8km
15km, mid 5km at marathon pace
REST
2 hour run
2 hour run
15
REST
12km, inc 3 x 1.5km at 1/2 marathon pace
Easy 8km
12km, mid 5km at marathon pace
REST
2 hour run
1 hour jog
16
REST
10km, inc 1 x 5km at 1/2 marathon pace
Easy 8km
Easy 5km
REST
REST
RACE
FREE training podcasts


FREE Podcast
Training for Mont Blanc
A no holes barred podcast, to fully explain what an ascent entails physically and technically, including several examples of hill training.
Download podcast (3.48 MB)
See all the Icicle podcasts


FREE Podcast
Starting out trail running

A fast growing sport, & this podcast explains what it involves, how to get into it, and exactly what equipment that is required...
Download podcast (3.76 MB)
See all the Icicle podcasts
Latest news from Icicle
Read this warning first

There is no single training plan that will suit everyone.
Some people can get up and run a marathon with no training, whilst others train for a year and still fail. So don't worry if you don't follow a planner to the letter, don't ask what pace you should be running at, don't believe that if you follow a planner that you are guaranteed to succeed in your objective. Every person is different, and has different training requirements. You are a far better judge of how fit you actually are, than anyone else can ever be. We are not obsessed with fitness on our courses, but are very aware that you are spending a lot of money, and valuable holiday time, so the fitter you are the more you are likely to succeed and to enjoy yourself. It is simply a case of stacking the odds in your favour.
Notes on training planers
RUNNING...
The tables above indicates runs of varying times (20 to 60 minutes). These are the actual times you should be running for, and do not include warm up and warm down periods. These add 20 minutes to each end of the session (see notes below for further details). Running is running, not jogging or speed walking. The aerobic demands of the muscle groups when running are far higher than for jogging or walking, and so better simulate the muscles cravings for oxygen at altitude. Failure to run at a decent speed is only cheating yourself. If you cannot keep up with this schedule, then get medical advice. The running should be on an even, fairly flat surface such as a pavement or playing field. If you do not like road running, then you can opt for footpaths which are softer, and cause less impact stresses. From week seven, you will notice that there is a choice of running for 45 minutes or cycling for 2 hours. This is to allow for those concerned about their joints or causing muscle damage. Like running, the cycling must be at a decent speed, not just at a cruising speed. Mountain biking is less aerobically beneficial than road biking, which requires a more even aerobic output, similar to long mountain ascents e.g. Mont Blanc.

WARMING UP & STRETCHING...
To warm up you should first walk briskly for about ten minutes in order to loosen up. Then you should stop and stretch each muscle group. Start be rolling your head in big circles in both directions. Then do the same for your shoulders. Next swing your arms in circles, first forwards, then backwards. Hold you arms in front of you and swing them back and level with your shoulders, and back a bit further. Then put your hands on your hips and rotate your hips as far as possible from side to side in a circular motion. Next slide your arms down the side of each leg whilst not bending forward. To stretch your legs, touch your toes, and hold the position for 10 seconds each time. Then to loosen your quads (thigh muscles) do several controlled squats and straightens to your full height. Finally lift each foot of the floor and rotate the ankle in circles, both ways. These stretches will have exercised every muscle group. If any groups were especially stiff then warm them up further. After the stretches you should walk briskly for another few minutes to get your body temperature up slightly to protect the muscles, then start your run. After the run you should walk for at least ten minutes to cool down slightly, then repeat the stretches, concentrating on the leg stretches.

CROSS COUNTRY...
The point of the cross country runs are to exercise different muscle groups, to improve your stamina, and to provide some variety in your training in order to keep up your motivation. Each cross country run should be 30 to 45 minutes long, and should be over as varied terrain as is possible for you. If you live in an inner city, you can run along canals, through parks, and round playing fields. If you live in the countryside, or have easy access to it, then run through woods, along footpaths and bridleways. These runs are highly enjoyable, and are a treat in the midst of harder training.

CLIMBING WALL...
As outlined before, this is more an extra to your training programme than part of it. Climbing walls do little for you apart from building up flexibility, finger and muscle strength. They do not build up your aerobic fitness. Apply the same warm up and stretching principles for using a climbing wall, as well as warming down. Failure to do this could cause tendon / ligament damage which could severely influence your course. Most good climbing walls have instructors who can advise you on suitable training for improving your wall technique. Remember that good technique on a wall does not equate to good performance outside on real rock, and so use the wall as a training tool rather than a real measure of level of skill.

REST DAYS ...
A day of rest does not mean undoing all the good of the training days. Eat good food, rehydrate yourself, and still do all the stretching, as there is a tendancy for muscles to get stiff when they aren't used. Perhaps the best description for this day is active rest, as it is best for your body to keep doing something, be it a long walk with the dog, or even a day shopping. Watching the TV all day and being a couch potato really won't help. For those who enjoy using gyms, the active rest days are a good day to go the the gym for strength and toning exercises.

SCHEDULE CHANGES ...
The schedule above is an ideal, but of course we accept that you have busy lives and other commitments which will impact on the training. If you have to miss a session, then you must catch up before the end of the week. An ideal day for this is on the Sunday instead of going to the climbing wall. We cannot enforce this schedule on you any more than saying that you paid for the course, and you are wasting your money by arriving with low fitness. We won't allow you to attempt a climb if we think that you are not fit enough to be safe on it. We can't say any fairer than that...

THE USE OF GYMS...
Many people arrive on courses having done all their training inside in a gym, and then they wonder why they struggle on the course. Even on a good treadmill or rowing machine it is very hard to simulate training outside, and the effects are different. For example outside you have air blowing past you, so can regulate your heat and avoid dehydrating. Also you encounter different terrain, even if it is pavements and roads. In the gym you cannot judge your speed well, and it is easy to dehydrate, causing muscle fatigue and lack of motivation. If you are a dedicated gym user, perhaps the best compromise is to only use the gym when there is bad weather outside.

GOT ANY QUESTIONS?
If you have any questions about the level of fitness you should be for a course, or about the training planners then please get in touch, and one of the guiding team will be in touch to advise you.
Why choose our trips?
See our Alpine blog, by clicking on the Word-press logo to the right.
Icicle Blog
Itinerary flexibility to allow you to take full advantage of the weather windows on any day, to maximise your summit chances.
Our prices are fixed in £ Sterling, to protect you from euro fluctuations, so you can budget accurately.
There is a choice of routes to opt for, depending on the weather, conditions, and your experience.
Any further questions?
A key part of choosing a company is being able to come and talk about your plans with an experienced course advisor face to face. In an increasingly virtual world, we know our clients value speaking to real people, getting open and honest advice. The vast majority of our clients are British, and our office and outdoor store is based in Windermere in the English Lake District.



Get in contact to arrange a meeting, and come in for a coffee to discuss your course in person with a trip advisor.
 


 
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