Home Gym Update

Hi everyone. I hope you all are keeping busy brainstorming adventures and staying fit during this quarantine. Here’s a quick update on the home gym build. Stay safe.

A clean slate for building the training “pain cave”
1 inch insulation added behind the rock wall.
The gear loft is coming together.
Framing out the climbing area.
Not shown is me installing about 100 T nuts on the Plywood.
Had some help from the Gri Gri to get the last piece of the wall in place.
It’s ready for some holds.
I have missed this simple set up. Now it’s time to get my finger strength back.

If you missed the first post on my home gym build check it out below.

The start of the home gym. Fighting through the endurance “pain cave” through training.

What is the Pain Cave? For many of us this may sound like some terrible scene from a movie. But any endurance athlete will tell you that it is instead a dark place that we all inevitable end up in at some point in our races, climbs, paddles or training. For me the pain cave is a place where we want to give up, its when we start bonking, feeling sick, feeling sore, cold, hot, scared, completely mental…. The list can go on forever. Listen to any of the great Ultra runners and they all have different strategies for dealing with the pain cave. Many of these strategies are focused on the mental side and are centered around focusing on coaching yourself to overcome whatever pain you are going through (and of coarse fixing any physical issues like nutrition or hydration) For me I know that at some point I am going to be in a low spot and need to be prepared. The way I have been able to fight through the low spot in many races or climbs is by reflecting back on my training. It means reflecting back on what I have done leading up to the race/climb, thinking about the years of pounding miles or suffering through pull ups, or the hard days on the dreadmill. This is the reason that I have decided to build/set up my own training area at the past three homes that I have lived at. Having an area at home to work out is key for me in feeling prepared. This can be as simple as a door hung pull up bar and TRX kit, a weighted pack for hiking up the steps, or just two old saw horses for dips. It can also be more elaborate like your own rock wall, treadmill incline trainers, and a set of kettlebells/clubs. This give me the freedom to train when I want and removes any excuses that I could make to not workout. Mainly this removes the “I dont have time” excuse. All I have to do is walk up to my loft and swings some kettlebells or walk out to the barn and hammer out some pull ups on the hang board.

As soon as we moved to the Eastern shore I knew that getting in the training to allow me to feel good in the mountains was going to be a challenge. As far as I know there are no rock gyms on the Eastern shore and virtually zero hills. I knew that my long term goal was to build a large rockwall but since the home we purchased does not have a basement or garage I knew this meant building a pole barn. knowing that this would take a long time, and would not be cheap to build I invested in a cheap over the door pull up bar to get me started while I worked on the barn plan. Below are some progress shots. Follow along as the home gym project comes together.

A variety of equipment I have acquired over the years. In reality you can get by with less than half of these.
A cheap and effective way to build climb specific strength.
I am privileged to have access to one of these, thanks Maggie Guterl.
This shed was on our property when we bought it. It was in bad shape and needed to go to make room for the barn.
This was fun.
The guys at Shirk Pole Buildings starting the barn.
These guys are fast.

Update

Hi everyone. It has been a very long time since I last posted. And while I don’t want to make excuses, since my last post things have been pretty hectic but awesome. I have taken on a new job and have been lucky enough to move to the Eastern Shore of Maryland. While I often thought about moving, I never considered that it would be south. I always thought that I would end up closer to the mountains. However I could not pass on this opportunity. And while I am a bit farther from the mountains I am now in walking distance of an amazing training facility called the Chesapeake Bay. As I write this post from the loft in my house I am watching a thunderstorm dump rain and wind across the Bay. We now live on the Eastern Shore near the famous Kent Island. I feel so lucky to be able to walk out my front door and launch my SUP only a few hundred feet down the road. While its not the mountains it is an amazing area to train. The back roads are quiet, the Wye River & Bay are amazing areas to paddle, and the there are plentiful trails. However just like our last house its dreadfully flat. In fact its even flatter than the rolling fields of Oxford Pa, my watch currently says that we are just 6 feet above Sea level. While this is by no means ideal for preparing for the big mountains it certainly is a challenge that I am ready for. Stay tuned.

“Base” Training Period for Great Range Traverse

I will start off with a disclaimer that I have used in the past: I am not a fitness professional, professional trainer, or doctor. I do however live in a totally flat area surrounded by corn fields and do decently ok in the mountains. Which is actually the reason that I started this blog, I want to inspire, motivate, and help other flatlanders enjoy the mountains. Now on to the training! This post is focused on what many fitness pros would call the “base” period. There are many interpretations of this but I think in general they mean a period of time in which you are getting into decent enough shape to set you up for a period of goal specific training. For example, when I ran XC for Philadelphia University my base period was during the summer break and focused on mid-grade mileage and general fitness. Once we got back to school, we then would transition into more specific training focused on our 8k races. Many books such as Steve House’s book Training for New Alpinism put a heavy emphasis on carefully planning this training period. I totally agree with this but find that its not always feasible for everyday people in everyday life. We get busy, life events happen, work gets crazy and goals change.

For my upcoming shot at the Great Range Traverse I would love to say that I carefully planned out a base training period and scheduled my transition into a specific training period. However, the reality is that it did not work this way for me but I still feel like I am in a good place to perform. This is based on my strict focus on staying generally fit. This past winter I focused heavily on both backcountry snowboarding (see my past post on splitboarding). My ideal plan was to come off of the winter season (Early April) and then have at least 6 weeks of easy to moderate running and then 5 weeks of hard uphill running before the traverse. However, work and life got in the way and I settled on early June for the traverse. My theory is that my months of uphill splitboarding, hard lifting, snowboarding, and daily fitness routine (yoga, climbing, kettlebell, etc..) provided enough of a general fitness for me to transition right to hard training for hard mountain running. Is it ideal? No, but I think it will work. I love the idea of staying generally fit at all times, this concept is something that Sean Sewell talks about in my recent interview with him:  “The way I train is to be ready for action any day and any moment.  So I don’t really have “off season” or peaking”. Check it out under the training section of my blog.

Ok on to my “base” period. While the majority of the focus was on snowboarding, I believe that the portion focused on uphill travel served as a decent base for my current training. When I am focused on mountain sports I care most about time on my feet and vertical gain. For me mileage has mostly been a secondary metric unless I am training for a marathon. Loosely my base period started in early winter. Below is my overall time spent on each training activity:

Looking back at this I find it promising that 28% of time was spent running combined with many hours hiking and backpacking. Additionally, many miles focused on uphill travel. However, on the negative side over the course of those 13 weeks I was only on my feet for 124 hours which comes out to roughly 1:22 hours a day, I think this has the potential of being troublesome. Especially because there where at least 5 or 6 full days of lift access downhill snowboarding (19% of time on feet). While downhill riding certainly works muscles I don’t think it will help me with the Great Range. However, on the more positive side I am pleased with the elevation gain profile:

While there are certainly some low weeks, I averaged 5175 feet of vertical gain a week. A lot of this was done through inclined treadmill and box step works outs but there was also a good amount of outside uphill travel as well. I should also note that sometime around week 11 I realized that winter was coming to a abrupt end near me and I started upping my miles. I even got in a 31-mile running day for my 31st birthday. While that completely sucked it was for sure a confidence booster for me.

Overall, I can draw both a number of negative and positive conclusions from counting this as my “base” period. In reality only time will tell, but so far so good on the “specific” training period. In the coming weeks I will touch on progress and specific workouts focused on the Great Range, however in the meantime feel free to comment with any questions or thoughts. By no means am I saying this is a brilliant plan and I would love to get everyone’s overall thoughts. Until next time, thanks for reading.

Great Range Traverse June 2019

I distinctly remember the first time I saw the high peaks of New York’s Adirondack Mountains. As we drove NW on route 73 I remember being in complete awe with the sheer amount of exposed, steep, and seemingly endless peaks. A few months later I got the chance to climb one and I was instantly hooked. I soon wanted to complete as many of the 46 peaks as possible. Over the next few years I started doing the long drive up the thruway many times a year to give them a shot. One year I even convinced my family to take their summer “beach” vacation there.  I have since made decent progress but got side tracked by an experience I had on the famous Great Range. In an attempt to make the most of my trips I often would try to slam in as many peaks as possible in a short amount of time. This led to eventually trying the Great Range Traverse in a day. While there are many variations of the Great Range Traverse, it generally means doing 25+ miles, 10k in elevation gain, and 8 high peaks. While my first time doing the GRT was slow, wet, and very painful my friends and I had a blast and it got me hooked on this concept of endurance peak bagging. Since then I have done a host of different endurance peak bagging days including the Presidential Traverse, the notorious Devils Path, and a climbing ascent up Mt Whitney.

On the Range with Tyler Dye June 2015

It has been several years since I have been up on the Great Range but each year, I find myself itching to get after it again. I am happy to say that I finally have it on the books for this coming June. The general plan is to start at the Rooster Comb Trail head and finish up at the Garden Trailhead.  (more to come on the route in a later post) After getting this on the books I called up my good buddy Shawn D’Andrea. Shawn is an all-around running badass and has been kicking my ass in races since college. He recently finished the Boston Marathon in 2:32:58, which if you’re not familiar is freakin fast!!!  While mostly a road runner his ability to suffer and unrelenting grit makes him a perfect partner. This past fall Shawn agreed to “run” the Devils Path with me and ended up getting more elevation gain in one day than the rest of the year combined. His ability to adapt to the Catskills rough terrain and push me to a sub 10-hour Devils path is both inspiring and motivating. Stay tuned to the blog and Instagram over the next few weeks as I will be posting what I have done so far to prepare, each weeks training recap, and some short stories on past ADK experiences. My next post will focus on my base training period and my training log set up. Thanks for reading.