Health & Fitness

Deliberate Training Week Nine: Payoff

This is the ninth and final installment of my series Deliberate Training: Principles of Periodization. Whether you are alpine climbing, ice climbing or backcountry skiing, mental and physical fitness is your key to enjoying the moment and returning safely.

I pulled the climbing skins off my skis, reset the bindings to downhill mode; donned hat, gloves and goggles. It was January 11, 2019 and I was alone at the top of Edelweiss Bowl, just south of Teton Pass, Wyoming. My son Charlie left two days earlier to go back to school and my other son, Max, had to work. In the last seven days, we spent one day skiing Jackson Hole Ski Resort, a day the risk of avalanches was so high we decided not to venture into the backcountry. The other six days, including this day, I skied a total 31 hours, 35 miles and 21,000 vertical feet of unassisted backcountry touring and powder skiing.

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Deliberate Training Week Six, Seven and Eight: Recovery, Endurance, Power

Fitness programming works. There is a formula for success: goal + reality + determination = a positive outcome. You need to have clear goals. Decide what you really want and commit. Prioritize, you can have most anything, but not everything. Great expectations create great capabilities. Be a realist. Identify your problems and barriers to success, then confront them. Create a plan to achieve your goals and measure your progress. Execution is the key. Practice good work habits. Don’t worry about looking good, worry about achieving your goal.

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Deliberate Training Week Five: Strength Training

I am glad Week Five is over. Last Friday at the climbing gym I was dead. Two hard weeks of building strength and now it is time to back off. After a week of recovery, we will enter Week Seven, the endurance and power phase of my Nine Week Periodization Program.

Over Five weeks, I achieved strength gains of 40% to 50%. The highlights were squatting my body weight at 175 lbs. and deadlifting close to 200 lbs. Aerobically, I increased my cycle power output for various intervals by 10% to 25% and my VO2 max by 5% to 57. I climbed 1560 vertical feet in the climbing gym in under three hours. Finally, I dropped two pounds in weight, lost 2% body fat to 13% and reduced my waist circumference to 33 inches. Not too shabby for 64 years old.

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Deliberate Training Week Four: Strength Training

This is Week Four: Strength Building phase of my Nine Week Periodization program. When creating a workout program for myself or my clients, I always keep in mind my goals. With my current program, I have four specific goals. I want to climb multiple 100 foot vertical pitches of waterfall ice without hanging on my protection or the rope; ascend and ski down 1000 to 2000 vertical feet of powder snow without having to stop; be able to do these activities for consecutive days; and most of all, I want to be clear headed, make good decisions and come home alive.

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Deliberate Training: Week Three Workouts, Active Recovery

Achieving big athletic goals requires a capacity and affinity for hard work. Successful athletes train hard. As physical and mental stress increases, the need for rest and recovery accumulates. Continuously hard workouts reach a point of diminishing returns. When you hit that tipping point you need to step back and let your body and mind recover. Recovery is one of the most difficult aspects of training to get right. In planning recovery periods, you need to answer the questions how, when, and how long. The sooner you recover, the quicker you can get back to training hard.

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Deliberate Training: Week Two Workouts, Being uncomfortable

There is nothing comfortable about ice climbing. To climb the Ames Ice hose, we left our warm beds at four in the morning, hiked the snow packed approach in the dark, and started climbing the first difficult pitch in the frigid, first light of dawn. I was stiff, cold and scared. At the first belay, I was constantly bombarded by falling ice from my partner climbing above. The final pitch was a rope stretching 200 foot lead up unrelenting steep ice.

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Deliberate Training: Building a Base, Week One Workouts

Each athlete and every sport is unique, subject to different physical, psychological, and environmental demands. I train to be a competitive cyclist and for outdoor sports: rock & ice climbing, backcountry skiing, and paragliding. My workouts are designed for a 60 plus year old athlete living in Minnesota, USA. At 64, I have to be careful lifting heavy weight, it takes me longer to recover, my progressions are slow, and I have to be disciplined with my diet.

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Deliberate Training: Principles of Periodization

The air is Minnesota cold as Hunter Farrell and I make our way down the canyon covered in four inches of fresh snow. Rounding a river’s bend, we catch a dramatic view of Cascade ice fall, 100 feet of vertical ice plastered to a rock wall. We carefully cross the river on a snow bridge to the base of the ice. On go our climbing harnesses and crampons. Methodically, I clip slings and ice screws to my harness, and uncoil our ropes. Hunter puts me on belay. Taking a deep breath to calm my mind, I set my picks in the ice and begin climbing. It is March 2018, a few days before my 64th birthday and 12 years since I last lead an ice climb: the spectacular 600 foot Ames Ice Hose in Telluride, Colorado.

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