Sunday, July 20, 2008


Sticking to a training plan is a challenge that everyone must conquer in order to achieve their fitness goals. But figuring out how to stay motivated can at times prove to be more challenging than the climb itself.

After years of stop and start exercise plans, when I found out I was going to climb Mt. Rainier, I knew I had to make a mental shift in order to see bigger and better results than I had in the past. There are ton of articles out there that speak to this topic, but sometimes the suggestions seem to add more work to an already full training plan. Here are some things that have really helped me stay motivated while I have been training.

At first it was easy to hit the gym or the trails. The excitement surrounding my decision to climb (which was coupled with the excitement of accepting my current position with Whittaker Mountaineering) made my workouts fun and exciting. Hopefully this excitement stays with you right up until your climb, but if it doesn't try these tricks to stay on the ball.

1. Have someone to hold you accountable. You can do this a couple of ways. Have a workout partner that you meet a few times a week. Or have someone that you report your progress to. I have a few friends that are serious runners, so when I started to get serious about the sport they loved hearing about my progress, and they had great advice when I would hit a wall. I also advertise pretty heavily when I am trying to develop good habits, because then it becomes one of the first things coworkers, friends, family ask you about. And when you are getting asked "How's your training going?" a few times a day, you want to have something good to report.

2. Get Creative with your Workout. Run the same route for four months and you will surely burn out. I try to run something different each time I go out. Here in Ashford, I am fortunate to have miles of trails right out of my door step. But for a change of pace, I ran on the road today. I also find ways to keep me upbeat when the going gets tough. On a recent hill workout I played cheesy pop music to help me sprint the switchbacks. On my long training hikes I listen to audiobooks.

3. Compete. Maybe its running you regular 5 mile loop five minutes faster. Or entering a local race. I like to find someone who runs faster than me, and push myself to keep up. Setting mini-goals will allow you to feel successful while on your path to the top. There is no rule that says you have to wait until you climb in order to reap the benefits of your training.

4. Take a week off. Counter intuitive? Sure. But it really works. I spent a whole week feeling pretty sluggish on my runs. I had no interest in strength training. Forget push ups. I was burnt out. So I took a whole week and didn't train at all. Sure I got outside, that's just my nature. But I didn't run once. And by the end of the week I was itching to get back out on the trails, and sure enough I had one of my best runs ever. Ear to ear grin the whole time and I ran harder than before the break.

5. Visualize the Mountain. One of the things that helps me on long runs or hike is to think about the mountain. I visualize myself succeeding because of the hard work I am putting into it now. I'm lucky that I get to see my peak pretty often living in Ashford. But if I didn't, I would put a picture of the mountain on my bathroom mirror or the fridge. Somewhere where I can see it everyday, and daydream about what the views will be like standing on top.

Liz is the Retail Manager for Whittaker Mountaineering, and will make her first attempt for the summit of Mt. Rainier this week.

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