What kind of conditioning?

FAQ and threads for those just starting to hike the Colorado 14ers.
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What kind of conditioning?

Postby JOBIE » Sun Mar 18, 2007 7:09 am

My wife and I are planing to do some 14ers this summer. Neither one of us are in bad shape and both of us are in early 30's. I would like to try Grays peak/Torreys in early July. What kind of gym conditioning can we do? These will be our first 14ers and do not have alot of experience, what can we expect?

Thanks for any help :D .
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Postby summitrunner » Sun Mar 18, 2007 7:59 am

Here are my ideas for getting into shape:

Start running between 2 and 3 miles a day and work your way up to 4-6 miles a day. The more you run outside the better, but if you are on the DREADmill use an incline.

Use the stairmaster once a week.

Start some light lifting of free weights or machines.

Start doing some core workouts with the big core workout balls.

Go to Coyote Ridge just south of the dump on Taft Hill and start hiking it. It is a tough hill climb and can simulate some of the hills you will have to climb on Grays and Torreys minus the elevation. Another good place is Pinewood Reservoir (west of Loveland). It does have one tough hill and has some spots of 7000+ feet in elevation. These two places are two of my favorite running spots in Larimer County. Check out this link under the Ramsey-Shockey Open Space and the Rimrock Open Space. There are more details on them and some great maps.

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Postby CO Native » Sun Mar 18, 2007 2:22 pm

Best machine I've found for 14er prep is an incline eliptical. Those can generally acheive pretty high angle which allows you to work all the muscles that a hike up a 14er will. Especially for the class 1 and 2 mountains, your main goal should be endurance. These are not difficult nor very steep ascents.
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Postby Slow Moving Fun Seeker » Sun Mar 18, 2007 2:58 pm

I recommend ChiRunning:


There are two ChiRunning coaches in the Denver area; you can check them out on the above website.
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Postby Gahugafuga » Sun Mar 18, 2007 5:00 pm

All of these hardcore workouts are great if your goal was to sprint Grays/Torreys in 2-3 hours roundtrip, but if your goal is to get up and down them in one piece, all this gym stuff is way overrated, in my humble opinion. Unless you're a gym professional, you can't simulate with a workout the amount of impact placed upon your joints by a 6-8 hour hike. The only way to get that endurance is by getting out there and hiking. Learning to set a pace that you can sustain for a prolonged period is an underrated skill. If you can develop the mental stamina to put one foot in front of the other for several straight hours, you're probably already in good enough shape to get up Grays and Torreys.

I made my first 14er with no formal workout routine, just random hikes when I had the time. I only felt the need to adopt a strictly regimented workout program when I pushed into more dedicated mountaineering/ski mountaineering, where I've been frequently racing a clock against weather/snow conditions.

I feel like I'm throwing gasoline on a fire by suggesting gym workouts are overrated.... :lol:
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Postby trekkin_gecko » Sun Mar 18, 2007 5:07 pm

either the treadmill (walking at an incline or running) or the stairmaster
leg weight exercises such as step ups or lunges, starting with body weight
abs on a stability ball
light upper body weights so you can tote your pack more easily
other ideas:
long walks on trails to get used to your pack and break in your hiking shoes
stadium steps
i've found the best way to get in shape for difficult hikes is to hike progressively longer and harder hikes as often as is practical
after your first one, you'll know what you need to work on
i haven't done a 14er yet, but i've done a rim to rim and humphrey's peak in az (12,633?) with no problem
so i'll have to see how theory meets reality this summer
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Postby Bean » Sun Mar 18, 2007 6:40 pm

If you want to do G&T, are in your early 30s, and are in decent shape, you need no specialized training.
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Postby Alex » Sun Mar 18, 2007 7:14 pm

I would agree with Bean and Gahugafuga. I did my first 14er with just occasional running, and I am way older then you. When I had seen 4-6 miles a day running suggestion, I thought you prepare to some simple 20000' peaks.
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Postby JOBIE » Sun Mar 18, 2007 7:42 pm

[quote="Alex"]I would agree with Bean and Gahugafuga. I did my first 14er with just occasional running, and I am way older then you. When I had seen 4-6 miles a day running suggestion, I thought you prepare to some simple 20000' peaks.[/quote

Thanks for all the info. I would prefer to do some training, as is I try tgo to the gym 2-3 times a week. do cardio on eliptial, and free weights. we often do walks, time/weather permiting.

I kinda freaked out when I saw the 4-6 miles a day...wondered what I got my self into :shock: . I have never been much of a runner. doing much better now :) .

I am a bigger guy 5'10", 230lbs, muscular, I would like to drop 15-20 lbs though.
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Postby mildly neurotic » Sun Mar 18, 2007 7:44 pm

You live in Colorado. Screw the stairmaster and go hike outside to build up your endurance. Another big part of climbing is mental. I belive most 14er climbs can be divided into these stages:

Stage 1: You need the mental strength to get out of your sleeping bag before dawn, when there's frost on your tent and your boots are cold. This is so you don't get struck by lightening later in the day (a fair tradeoff IMO).

Stage 2: a nice stroll along a creek through the trees at sunrise... climbing 14ers is great! (unless you're climbing Belford or Missouri from Missouri Gulch trailhead, then skip right to stage 3)

Stage 3: you start to go steeply uphill, you will not go downhill for a long time. You climb and climb, huffing and puffing, but all you see are trees and you wonder why you are doing this, climbing 14ers stinks!

Stage 4: you hit treeline, finally your effort is paying off. You stop to enjoy the view and maybe even see some animals out eating breakfast, climbing 14ers is great!

Stage 5: back to the uphill slog, usually you'll be climbing up some neverending scree or talus slope. You keep looking up every 3 steps but the top of the slope isn't getting any closer, you begin to question your sanity, some old dude runs by you in a tank-top and sneakers and hits the summit before you claim another 20 feet of gain... climbing 14ers stinks!

Stage 6: you hit a saddle or ridge and you can see the summit from here, you get a second wind and the view is great. You reach the summit and the pain is over, climbing 14ers is great!

Stage 7: you have a long way back and even though it's all downhill you've seen every inch of it on the way up and you just want to go home and eat a pizza. The last couple miles back to the truck are torturous, climbing 14ers stinks.

Stage 8: you make it back to the trailhead and throw the pack off, beat your chest and make some yelping noises. You have conquered the beast and can go back to your cubicle on Monday feeling good. Climbing 14ers is great!

The important point is that you begin and end thinking that climbing 14ers is great, but expect some deviation in between.
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Postby MtHurd » Sun Mar 18, 2007 7:56 pm

You live in Ft. Collins, hike or bike on any of the local trails. Nothing will get you in better shape for hiking than hiking itself. Add a pack with some weight if you want to increase the workout intensity.
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Postby Aubrey » Sun Mar 18, 2007 8:17 pm

I'm also in my mid-30s. There's some great advice in this thread, but I'd just recommend hiking ... A LOT. The higher and the steeper the better. While running and weight training helps, nothing prepares you better than hiking, IMO. [That said, interval training can really speed up your conditioning.]

You probably won't be going up Grays/Torreys until June or July, but you have plenty of practice spots out your back door that will be virtually snow-free soon (or now) -- Horsetooth, Greyrock ...

Also, keep this in mind: The more conditioned / better fit you are, the more enjoyable the climb will be and the less pain you'll have to endure. Going up a 14er unfit will be a real slog, and you'll be all cranky ... and it won't be as fun.

Another thing ... Shedding 15 pounds makes a huge difference (I did that a couple summers ago), and I highly recommend it, if possible. Think of it this way: When I climb 14ers, my pack is usually about 15 pounds or so, so after losing the weight it was like carrying nothing at all. I'm not "fat," but I hope to lose another 5-10 before mid-summer, just to make it easier on myself.

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