My legs were screaming around 500feet of elevation gain into our hike up the Franconia Ridge and I was getting frustrated as Joe effortlessly pushed forward. I had long been a runner at this point and had just come off of a strong fall season of training and running. I also started a heavy lifting routine 2 to 3 days per week. As the day went on, I remember many times asking myself “how could this be happening”? At some point around the summit rational thinking took over and I was able to make some reflections on why I was riding the epic struggle bus. While I had been running a lot prior to the trip I had pretty much only been running on the roads with little to no elevation gain. The long flat miles did not translate well to the seemingly endless NH uphill. I also realized that my only focus at the gym was basically just going to the gym. Zero planning. Zero goals. Now I was paying for it.
Fast forward a few years and I have finally begun to find a grove when it comes to physically preparing for the mountains. I follow a strict understanding that all training starts with a goal. And my goal is to be in mountain shape while living far from the mountains. When I say “mountainshape” I mean being in good enough shape to successfully complete your objectives for whatever mountain sport you enjoy. This doesn’t have to be climbing Denali or running Barkley but instead can be any objective that your passionate about. For me these objectives started really small and have progressed over time. I did not start by going out and running the Presidential Traverse or climbing Mt Whitney. Instead I set small goals that were at the time objectives that allowed me to have fun while also pushing my comfort zone. At some point I will touch on this concept but for now I will focus on training. After my leg meltdown on the ridge I started really thinking about some ways that I could better prepare myself for next time. I read a lot of training books but found that many seemed to be pretty tailored to the high-end elite Killian Jornet type athletes or people living in the mountains. I wanted to findways to prepare for a wide variety of mountain sports while living and training in a Flat City area. I found that picking a specific goal and tailoring my training to that allowed me to be much more prepared. The training section of this blog will cover different mountain objectives and ways I have prepared, including ways to balance life, training, and work. I am also excited to announce that it will also feature written or podcast recorded interviews with local Flatlanders who are performing at a high level as mountain athletes. Disclaimer-I am not a sports scientist or certified trainer, so don’t expect in depth training plans on zone training. I simply want to share ways that everyday people can be prepared and ready to enjoy their time spent in the mountains.