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Is a month long enough to train ???

FAQ and threads for those just starting to hike the Colorado 14ers.
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Location: Spokane Washington

Is a month long enough to train ???

Postby Spokane Man » Mon May 02, 2011 6:58 pm

Hello everyone,

I am originally from Colorado, having moved to Washington State around a year ago. I currently live at 1,800 feet in Spokane, WA. The year before I moved to Spokane I climbed Greys, Bierstadt, and Elbert. I have recently planned a trip back to Colorado. I hope to climb a couple 14ers while out there. I would very much like to avoid seriously endangering my life due to not being prepared. I plan to start doing some serious hill work here in Spokane. I hope to spend a coulpe nights camping there in the high country before I make some attemps.

Does anyone have any further recommendation I can do over the next month that will help me complete my goal of enjoying a couple more mountains while being back ?

Any secrets to increasing red blood count ?

Is the Lincoln, Demoncrat, Cameron a valid consideration ?

I am 29, 178 pounds in average shape. ( I just ran a 12k in 1:30, and work out 3 times per week).

Grace and Peace,

Spokane Man

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Re: Is a month long enough to train ???

Postby Bullwinkle » Mon May 02, 2011 7:24 pm

If you have a normal red blood cell count, there is not much more you can do in advance--and it takes weeks to build once at elevation.

In additional to normal strength building regimen, I normally bike 10K at 15MPH, do 1,000' of stair climbing at a local stadium, then bike 10K home at the same 15MPH. A month of prep is good, but two months or more would be better.

I generally leave at least a day open between arrival and ascent, but have also done next day. Get plenty of rest, eat easily digested food in adequate quantity, and stay well-hydrated before and during your ascent.

Have fun and stay safe!
As a mountain more fully reveals itself to a man, so the true nature of the man will be more fully revealed

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Re: Is a month long enough to train ???

Postby Spokane Man » Mon May 02, 2011 7:45 pm

I plan on walking / jogging a 3.1 mile course which starts at 1900 feet and ends a 2350 with a total elevation gain at 700 ft. once a week and then running 3.1 miles on a relatively flat course twice a week.... core work on the off days...

What cha all athink ?

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Re: Is a month long enough to train ???

Postby Theodore » Mon May 02, 2011 9:13 pm

Honestly, I would up it a bit. Cardio is your friend, get the body ready to handle as much breathing as possible. I don't think your time frame is that bad, I do however think 3 workouts per week isn't really getting much done. Work in lunges and some serious leg work to build the muscles along with those things you have planned.

I'm in a similar shape to you, 30yo, 5'7" 175lbs. I work in a ten story building in KC and will generally try to take the stairs from bottom to top 10 times a day. I'm also doing some pretty rough circuit training this time, but last trip, it was just the stairs and jogging. Last time I was out in Feb, it worked pretty well. I'm heading to Lost Rat on Grays in 2 weeks and think I'll be fine.

A lot if it also has to do with how well you handle altitude. If you were fine before, you should be just fine now. If I was in your shoes, I'd be playing on the lower slopes of Rainier as much as possible!

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Re: Is a month long enough to train ???

Postby Gabe » Mon May 02, 2011 9:45 pm

If you use sound judgment once you start up the mtns when you get there, you should be just fine. DECALIBRON seems like a decent goal too. Its pretty forgiving and you have a lot of bail-out points if you start to feel bad. Plus, you have the option to spend the night at the trailhead (~12K) which is a pretty good camping spot.

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Re: Is a month long enough to train ???

Postby bking14ers » Tue May 03, 2011 7:28 pm

This is why I love the mountains so much. I'm from Ohio elevation 1000ft. ish. I started a month ago getting in shape for a trip in August. And I will still struggle when I get there. This is a great topic for a future post. How much training do you do for the climbing season? ( when ever it starts for you). But to answer your question, I am an avid runner in decent shape, and no amount of training ever seems to be enough. So keep at it what ever is you do for training and it will be good enough. Have fun on your trip.

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Re: Is a month long enough to train ???

Postby bblack99 » Tue May 03, 2011 8:14 pm

bking14ers wrote:This is why I love the mountains so much. I'm from Ohio elevation 1000ft. ish. I started a month ago getting in shape for a trip in August. And I will still struggle when I get there. This is a great topic for a future post. How much training do you do for the climbing season? ( when ever it starts for you). But to answer your question, I am an avid runner in decent shape, and no amount of training ever seems to be enough. So keep at it what ever is you do for training and it will be good enough. Have fun on your trip.


This is a great thread for flatlanders! I'm amazed that all these sub-200 pound runners are worried about being in shape! I'll drag myself up the mountains this summer clocking in somewhere between 225-240 depending how much weight I can cut over the next two months. I'm pretty sure hiking the mountains wasn't designed for people 6'3" who hibernate through the winter instead of cycling/marathoning, but I'm a hell of a pack mule with a high tolerance for pain. The nice part about being big and slow is that I KNOW I'm big and slow, so I start early, bail out when things look sketchy, and have size 14 feet that keep me from tipping over.

I have to say that I've found no good substitute for actual elevation, so I'll always spend two days on lower, easier peaks before heading above 14k. For instance, this summer before heading out to clean up my central Front Range and Tenmile/Mosquito 14er list, I'll spend a day stretching my legs on Columbia Mountain (high 10er) and maybe it's neighbor Democrat (11er), sleep in Georgetown, then trot up "Cupid" (easy 13er) and spend another night resting in town before doing anything serious.

I probably train the wrong way, but once I get in full training mode, I'll do 3-day rotations between long-distance walks with a weighted pack, elliptical on max resistance, and typical light cardio as a "recovery day". Again, not sure that's how the professionals would do it, but it seems to work well enough for me!

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Re: Is a month long enough to train ???

Postby Craig Cook » Tue May 03, 2011 11:39 pm

Spokane Man,

My name is Craig, and I am from Kansas City, Missouri. I hiked my very first 14er last summer, the Barr Trail up Pikes Peak (13 miles). I am in good physical shape (5'10", 135 lbs.) with a lean build from long-distance running the past 13 years or so.

I trained for about 3 months prior to my hike; lifting weights to build some muscles in my shoulders for carrying a pack, lots of abs/core workouts (I was told having a strong core is of the upmost importance for long hikes, and I tend to agree), long-distance running every other day, and long walks (8-10 miles) with my pack full of all the gear I would need for the hike.

When my wife and I arrived to Colorado Springs, our plan was to wait a couple days to acclimate ourselves to the altitude, then go for it. We had reservations to ride the cog railway back down. However, some nasty summer storms were predicted for that day, and we ended up having to hike up the morning after we arrived - we got there on a Monday at 4 p.m., and began hiking at 4 a.m., 12 hours later!

My wife ended up stopping at timberline, 3 miles from the summit, and I reached the top at 11:30 a.m. I thought 7 & 1/2 hours was darn good for someone who had never climbed a mountain and didn't live in altitude. I thought to myself, "That wasn't so bad" (although my wife might disagree).

However, because our reservations for the train were on a different day, and she wasn't at the summit to try and hitch a ride back down, we had to hike another 13 miles back to the trailhead. Now THAT was a killer. I hurt so bad by the time I reached our car at about 7 p.m. that I couldn't hardly move that night or the next day.

So it depends on how long the trail is you'll be hiking, in my opinion. 26 miles in one day on the Barr Trail is too much for someone who's not used to it, regardless of what kind of shape you might be in.

Regardless, I wish you the best of luck, and let us know how it goes! I plan to hike Pikes Peak again this summer, and hopefully some other 14ers in the near future!
Never play leapfrog with a unicorn.

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Re: Is a month long enough to train ???

Postby Theodore » Wed May 04, 2011 10:23 am

Different people have different methods and if it works, great! My usual 14er plan is to get up and down as quickly as possible.

For example, my plan for my Lost Rat trip coming up... I'll leave KC on Friday, noonish (half day at work). I'll arrive in Denver around 8 or so. Eat a good meal, then drive up to the trailhead. Get some shut eye until a bit before dawn. Start hiking, summit in late morning, be back at the car and driving back to KC by mid afternoon Sat. Arrive home early morning. Sleep in on Sunday and back to work Monday.

I'm up and down so fast, my body doesn't have time to freak out. :D Never had an issue yet!

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Re: Is a month long enough to train ???

Postby kbmiller » Wed May 04, 2011 11:34 am

Sounds to me like you are already trained for Lincoln, Democrat, Bross. I'd just pop 1000 mg of ibuprofen about 20 minutes before you start, another 400 mg at the summit of each, and make sure you have a cold beverage in the car waiting for you.

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Re: Is a month long enough to train ???

Postby CO Native » Wed May 04, 2011 12:00 pm

While Ibuprofen may help with the headache, you are just masking the symptoms of a bigger problem. By eliminating this warning sign from appearing you may prevent yourself from adapting your behavior to treat the underlying issue. I'd suggest suggest getting well hydrated before the hike, staying well hydrated on the hike, doing an acclimation hike that takes you to 12k a few days before hand if possible, sleep at an elevation of 8k to 10k the night(s) before the hike, and don't push your pace too hard while hiking. Then if you still get a headache you know you need to increase your water intake, and decrease your pace.
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Re: Is a month long enough to train ???

Postby peter303 » Wed May 04, 2011 12:02 pm

When I lived at sealevel In CA, I found two nights high camping worked pretty good for climbing CA 13ers & 14ers.

All the cardio you get in advance too helps with the climbing.

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