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Mike Foote's 20 week BIG VERT plan for intermediate to advanced mountain runners


Uphill Athlete by Steve House and Scott Johnston

All plans by this Coach
4.62 (42)


20 Weeks

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Plan Description

Are you targeting mountain running race or event with major elevation gain and loss?   Are you considering running one of the famous multi-day routes in the Alps?  Do you have a good mountain running background? Can you handle routine 40 to 60 miles (65-100km) weeks? Are you mainly challenged by the daunting elevations demands of these runs and wonder how you'll even get your legs to handle that much vertical?  Or do you live and train in a place that does not have easy access to mountains? Maybe you hit the mountains running, so to speak, after a snowy winter that limited your training options. If so, then continue reading. This is a plan designed to help you prepare for runs that contain a large (for you) amount of elevation gain and loss.

We have made this plan customizable to fit the needs of as many different runners and events as possible. The weekly volume (distance, time and vertical) totals shown in the plan summary do not show the actual progression you will make. You will determine the starting weekly distance and vertical gain/loss based on the event you are training for.  Weekly distance and vertical will start at about 50% of that event's largest single day's total and then progress to about 100% of that figure for longer events and more than 100% for shorter events.

The progression of the program will help those who need to develop running specific muscular endurance and boost their fatigue resistance.  This will allow them to handle both the uphill work and the downhill pounding of the Big Vert. The key difference in this plan vs most other running plans is the inclusion of a special gym based circuit style strength workout to build the key muscular endurance.  This workout is used 1x/week in a progressively more difficult form for the first 9 weeks before moving to more traditional long uphill interval workouts for the next 8 weeks. Another specific leg strength workout progresses through the first 10 weeks before transitioning into short hard uphill intervals for the remaining weeks.

For detailed information and to understand how this plan is constructed, please consult our book, “Training for the New Alpinism” published by Patagonia Books. Here’s useful beta about how to purchase and start your new plan and why we use TrainingPeaks. For specific questions about this training plan, or to send us your success story email us at

Thanks for becoming an #uphillathlete

Steve House and Scott Johnston

Training Plan Sample Week


Average Weekly Breakdown

Workouts Weekly Average Longest Workout
Run x5
7:36 hrs 4:30 hrs
Day Off x2
—— ——
Other x2
0:55 hrs 1:30 hrs
Strength x1
0:18 hrs 1:00 hrs
Workouts Per Week Weekly Average Longest Workout
7:36 hrs 4:30 hrs
Day Off
—— ——
0:55 hrs 1:30 hrs
0:18 hrs 1:00 hrs

Training Load By Week

This plan works best with the following fitness devices:

  • Heart Rate Monitor

All supported devices

Uphill Athlete by Steve House and Scott Johnston

Uphill Athlete LLC.

What originally inspired us to write Training for the New Alpinism, and what inspires us to continue to share the things we’ve discovered through, is the information void when it comes to specialized training for endurance mountain sports. We have successfully demonstrated a more systematic approach, using proven principles, to help you improve both your chances of achieving your goals, and your long-term fitness and safety in whatever mountain sport you are practicing.

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