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Spring Training

March 23, 2011

One of the two most asked questions for someone considering a Climb to Fight Breast Cancer experience is, “How do I train?”

Chris and Amy join me on a local hike outside of Seattle

This is both a simple and a complex question in the same wrapper. I generally start out by asking what (if anything) you are currently doing for exercise. It’s always a good baseline to know where a person is coming from and for what reasons they’d like to take on a challenge like Mt. Rainier. I thought it might be helpful for those of you first starting out to know what I do to ready myself for a mountain climb.

Full Disclosure: I am not a personal trainer. I do not have a degree in exercise science. I am not a mountain guide. If you are climbing Mt. Rainier and you call to ask me what you should do to train, I’ll most likely point you toward Alpine Ascents International for specific training questions. I’m simply an outdoor enthusiast; in love with all the mountains we climb!

I’ve been at this long enough now that I pretty much stay in mountain-ready shape all year. I do a little of everything – I’m a bit of an exercise jack-of-all-trades, master-of-none. I like to run, hike, spin and I really get my fight on during 20 minute classes at Crossfit. All of these activities prepare my cardiovascular system for the challenge I look most forward to – attempting my annual Climb to Fight Breast Cancer peak. (For the record, I never care if I summit; I just like being outside with all of you).

Climb participants on a training hike

My best advice is that whatever you are doing now, up it. If you aren’t doing anything, start. It’s never too late in life to get in shape. When I signed up to fundraise and climb Mt. Baker in 2002, I had no idea how to train. (I was completely clueless as to what I had taken on.) It turned out to be one of the most rewarding, interesting, challenging and exerting outings I’d ever embarked on. I completed almost all my training on Issaquah’s Tiger Mountain and borrowed much of my gear. Nine years later (gulp!) I can still name most of my teammates and guides. I’ve since had the privilege of climbing with new climbers ranging from 15 to 75 years of age.
In my opinion, the most important activity you can do from the time you sign up, until your date with the mountain, is hike. Hiking can happen in all different ways. It can be in the great outdoors (and if you live in the beautiful Pacific Northwest, this is a no brainer), stadium stairs, the gym’s StepMill (which is different from a StairMaster) or the rolling hills in your neighborhood. I gradually add weight to my backpack until I work up to the weight I’ll carry on the mountain.

The training pays off! New friends on the summit. Photo by Mohammed Idlibi

We have climbers this year from many states outside of Washington with varying climates, including Hawaii, Ohio, North Carolina, Vermont and Iowa.
As I train for Mt. Rainier this year, you’ll find me on the Sammamish River Trail and hiking the I-90 corridor.
(Oh, and the other most asked question for someone considering the Climb to Fight Breast Cancer? “How do I fundraise?” We’ll answer that one in a coming blog post too).

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