Book Review – Training for the uphill athlete

Training for the Uphill Athlete – A manual for mountain runners and ski mountaineers. A book by Killian Jornet, Steve House, and Scott Johnston.



Read this book if: you struggle with your own endurance goals but know you are capable of far greater output.

Buy this book for friends who: have a penchant for type II or type III fun. Live for the uphill slog and have big lofty dreams of mammoth ascents.


I once dated a guy who I chased up skin tracks for 2 years, across 3 continents, often gasping for my breathe. His idol was Kilian Jornet. One of the three authors of this book, Jornet is arguably the best endurance athlete on the planet, holding the fastest known time for the ascent and descent of Matterhorn, Mont Blanc, Denali and Everest. Basically, he is a beast!

The other two authors wrote the incredibly successful Training for the New Alpinism (one of the said ex-boyfriend’s favourite books). Steve House is one of the World’s best mountaineers, and his coach Scott Johnston is an Olympic-level, cross country ski coach. Along with Kilian, they have written a must-read book for anyone serious about the uphill – Training for the uphill athlete.


Woman doing The Plank - fitness training
Anne Gilbert Chase training at The Mountain Project in Bozeman.
Photo Jason Thompson


In this book, you will find training principles for the multisport mountain athlete who regularly participates in a mix of distance running, ski mountaineering, and other endurance sports that require optimum fitness and customized strength.


I particularly enjoyed the athlete stories chapter, on the physiology of endurance called “Making The Decision”, where Janelle Smiley, an American ski mountaineer and mountain climber, discusses a moment on the Der Lange Weg, 36-day ski traverse of the European Alpes. She was the last of 3 women, still attempting the traverse and in a time of doubt, her husband turned to her and said “Janelle, we are doing this”. It was in that moment she decided that “right then, I made the decision that quitting wasn’t an option”. Mindset is massive, something that multi-awarded adventurer Debra Seale talks about at length in our interview Chose Your Attitude. Something that we can all relate to.


Janelle Smiley - Training for the uphill athlete
Janelle Smiley on day 29 of Der Lange Weg. Photo by Mark Smiley, taken from the book Training for the Uphill Athlete


Now on to the training… Training for the uphill athlete is described as “an authoritative but accessible training manual for athletes and coaches who feel most alive in the mountains or pushing the uphill ascent”. This includes distance running, ski mountaineering, skimo, and skyrunning. This book collects the scientifically-backed and athlete-tested wisdom and experience of three of the best uphill athletes and coaches and extrapolates both to educate outdoor athletes of all stripes to perform their best.


There is a good description of how becoming ‘fat adapted’ we can benefit from a bottomless supply of energy (the fat) and reduced lactate production. If you have been exploring a Ketogenic diet, this chapter and the scientific basis that it is written on, will be of particular interest.



The book includes the same mix of theory, application, and experiential essays from experts in the field, as well as instructional illustrations as in Training for the New Alpinism. Contributions by Kilian Jornet increase the worldwide appeal of the book.


Discover other books that we recommend, from the ever-expanding Still Stoked Book Club, in our Book Review section.

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Surfing Saved My Life – A tell-all story by Melanie Williams

Book Review – Paddling North: A solo adventure along the inside passage

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Hiya, I'm Alexa. Always on some sort of adventure! I'm excited to share my stories & introduce you to other rad women, also living the dream. I'm here to inspire you to do the same :-)


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