Friday, April 30, 2010

Monica's Denali Training

Here is Monica's first journal - She's training for her Denali climb in June.

Fifty two more days! I’ve been planning on this for so long, but now that it’s so close, my head is spinning. I officially signed up for Denali on 8/31, figuring if I did it sooner rather than later, I’d have more time to get ready. This is something I’d thought about back when I first climbed Mt. Rainier. I loved the idea of being on a mountain for that long, and I also loved the idea of overcoming such a physical, emotional and mental challenge. For me, climbing is when I can calm my mind. I don’t think about anything going on at home, and think only about what’s happening at the present and putting one foot in front of the other. The thought of being in that state of mind for almost a month sounded fantastic. Plus, let’s face it… the “wow’s” and high fives I get when people hear I’m doing this are kind of fun.
My training has consisted of CrossFit and hiking with a weight vest or pack. I’ve been doing CrossFit for quite awhile and absolutely love it. I thrive on the sheer intensity of it, the functionality, the variance and the fact that it is slightly competitive. A lot of CrossFit is like Mountain Climbing. When you don’t think you can possibly do one more repetition or run any more is a lot like when you feel you just can’t take another step. But then you do it, and you really feel like you accomplished something. It’s also amazing to see what the human body is capable of doing. Some of their workouts sound so impossible that I consider walking out. Once I signed up for Denali, I was doing CrossFit 4-5 mornings per week and using a 40 pound weight vest 1-2 times per week. My weight vest use was either on the Stair Climber (simulated staircase) or outside in the hills.
In January, I cut down to CrossFit 3 mornings a week, and hiking with the pack 2-3 times per week for 1-2 hours. I also upped my pack weight to 56 pounds. The biggest thing that happened in January was getting a new pack. When I jumped to 56 pounds I was so uncomfortable I thought of giving up. The pack was digging into my shoulders and not only felt heavy, but was downright painful. I then had the bright idea of checking out the Xenon Osprey, which RMI recommends for women. The salesperson fit me for it, and said I was a “small”, which shocked me, since I’m a chronically medium type of gal. I guess despite my height, I have a fairly short torso, and my other pack was sliding down my hips, rather than on top of my hips. When I finally loaded it up, I was in heaven. It fit right over my hips and took so much pressure off my shoulders. It also had a narrower harness, so rather than feeling like the shoulder straps were dislocating my shoulder joint, it was farther in towards my sternum.
I quickly got used to 56 pounds, and have been jumping up every month. Much of March and all of April I’ve been using 70 pounds for most of my hikes, lasting usually 3 hours. If I’m extremely tired or sore, I’ll bring it down to 63 pounds. I don’t plan on going any heavier than 70, because I’m pretty much carrying half my body weight, and I can feel my joints and vertebrae compressing. Obviously, and injury at this point would be devastating!!!

Thanks for the update, Monica! Check back soon to read more about Monica's training!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Training to Climb...

With both the McKinley and Rainier climbing seasons just around the corner, I'm sure most of you are dialed into your training. We're following a few climbers as they prepare for their 2010 ascents - they've got excellent training routines and are great examples of climbers who are preparing to be in the best shape of their lives!

Here is the first journal from David - who is preparing to climb Mount Rainier on a 4-day RMI climb.
beshears first journal

April 23, 2010

I’m 53 years old and have spent the last 25 years sitting in front of a computer. Why would I suddenly decide to climb a mountain? Well, it all came about as a result of my son being injured in the war back in 2007 (traumatic brain injury, spinal injuries). I set a goal that he and I were going to climb Rainier come 2010. He was in a vegetative state at the time.

Come November 2009, my son is a lot better but I can see that he’s not going to be ready. I’m afraid that if I tell him “that’s okay, we’ll go next year”, that I’ll be saying that to him every year. I can’t give that to him. Instead I decide to do this first one in his name, and we’ll keep pushing to make him ready for 2011. And if come the next year he’s still not ready, I’ll do the climb alone again, again in his name; and the next year, and the next, until he makes the climb with me. He’s as competitive as I am. It’ll happen.

So I signed up for the July 23 – 26 climb. Good thing I didn’t wait too much longer. Those July slots go fast. By the beginning of December, I think they were mostly filled.

At that time, I was few pounds overweight (okay, twenty) and while I always tried to do the right thing, I never managed to stick with any exercise program for very long. I had a little over half a year to get into the best shape of my life.

I had turned one room of our house into an exercise room for our son’s physical therapy. He still wasn’t able to use it much, but I sure could. It has a treadmill, a recumbent bike, a Bowflex machine and some free weights. Also, my office building in Olympia has five flights of stairs. I could certainly do something with that.

I hung a whiteboard up in my exercise room. On it I drew up a graph. I listed: Treadmill, Stairs, Bike, Bowflex, Outdoor Hike, Stomach Crunches, Free Weights. I gave each a quantity or a time, and a point value, and set total points required for a month.

I decided that I would start easy and allow room to increase the quantity of each item with each passing month, and increase the total points required for each month. For instance, last December I only needed to go on the treadmill for 30 minutes at a brisk pace to earn 100 points. For the stairs, I had to climb 15 flights (5 flights 3 times) three times day (for 45 total), at a comfortable walk. For my outdoor hike (rugged nearby trails), 90 minutes with a light pack. To earn my requisite number of points for a month, I would have to do a couple of the exercises just about every day, though I would take an occasional day off.

It is now coming on the end of April. I’ve been at it three and a half months, and doing pretty good. The variety helped. Having a television hanging in the exercise room was a necessity. Competing with myself and the whiteboard scores was a necessity. I now use the treadmill for 60 minutes at a very brisk pace, but always keep one foot on the tread, incline set and I wear a weighted pack, four times a week. I now run the stairs (making sure I hit every step), 20 flights round trip three times a day (60 total / day), three days a week. My hikes are 2 hours, very brisk pace, carrying 50lbs in my pack. I’m doing 75 stomach crunches in 60 seconds.

I have three months to go. I want to increase endurance. And I will be adding in three full-day conditioning climbs. These will help me monitor how close to being ready I actually am…

Much more to come,


If you want to know more about David and his son's story, check out this article in a local newspaper.

Check back soon for more journals, advice & training inspiration!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

The Outdoor Athlete

One of my biggest challenges when it comes to training is staying motivated. I tend to get bored with a routine pretty quickly, so I'm constantly looking for new workouts and changing up my training program. Not only does changing up your routine help keep you interested and inspired to keep training, it's good for your body too! When your body becomes used to a specific task, you'll eventually hit a plateau and the exercise will loose its effectiveness.

I've read all the latest fitness magazines and surfed the web for ways to spice up my workouts - but it was hard for me to find new or non-recycled information. Recently, I came across an excellent training book... The Outdoor Athlete by Courtenay and Doug Schurman. I love how specific this book is - it's not a generalized overview for training, it actually focuses on specific outdoor pursuits. I'm new on the mountain biking scene and I was looking for training tips on how to strengthen my quadriceps for the grueling uphill climbs on a bike and I also knew I needed to improve my balance. This book actually specifically covers training for mountain biking adventures! It lays out a week by week routine, focusing on muscles or movements that are specific to certain outdoor pursuits. The workouts change every few weeks and intensify as your adventure approaches.

If you're training for a 3 day climb of Rainier, this book has you covered! How about an expedition to McKinley? Yep! There's a specific training routine just for you in this book! It's perfect for anyone looking for training tips and routines for mountaineering. You'll learn how to train specific muscle groups that you'll be using while climbing and how to balance cardio workouts with strength training. This book is a must-have for anyone who is looking to improve their performance in the mountains - or anyone who is simply looking to change up their exercise routine!

*Click on the image if you want to purchase this fantastic book!

Friday, April 9, 2010

Week Four of Laura's Training

This past week I did a few different things to train. Crystal Mountain up here in Washington had a big snow day, so I hit the slopes. I skied hard all day following one of my fast skier pals, did a couple hikes to some fun lines, and kept up the pace. I was definitely a bit sore the next day, but was sure to train again to get the muscles conditioned for multiple days on. I used the hill in town to do a couple quick laps with my pack weighing about 50lbs. I also wore my boots to get a feel for spots that may be bothering me, test out the socks I want to wear, and get the lacing right for both up and down hill. Since I knew that I was only planning on two laps, I tried to hike as quickly as I could uphill for those laps. Afterwards, more abs! The day after that, it was time for more gym action after work for some brief exercise. I just wanted to get the pack on and move for a bit. I did the elliptical, weights, abs routine and headed home. Have a good day!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Week Three of Laura's Training

Well, this week was a bit slow on the training front as I went back to Minnesota and Chicago to visit the family. It was a great trip for sure and it worked out well because my uncle has a pass to the YMCA. I tagged along for his workout and was able to get about an hour of exercise. I started off on the elliptical to get the heart rate up. I have found myself starting at a medium resistance to warm up for a bit. Then I will bump up to a higher resistance and try to go at a steady difficult pace. I usually cool down for a few minutes back at that medium resistance as well. I was also able to do an abdominal workout and some weightlifting. I finished up with a foam roller on the legs and on the back to loosen up my leg muscles and my back. I really like the foam roller and find that it helps my muscles be less sore the day after a workout. Ciao!