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Very much a newbie

FAQ and threads for those just starting to hike the Colorado 14ers.
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Very much a newbie

Postby nanook01 » Thu Dec 29, 2011 7:53 pm

Howdy! I have lived in Colorado for a very long time and have not explored these awesome mountains enough. I decided to change that with the new year approaching. I want to begin with just getting into shape for these 14ers. I did notice other forums talk about stuff to do to begin hiking the 14ers but I dont plan on hiking any until 2013. I want to spend this up coming year doing easy to moderate hikes as well as actually getting off the couch. What would anyone suggest has helped them get into physical shape to start their mountain adventure. Is there any one particular exercise (running, biking etc) that helped them.
Thanks!!!

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Re: Very much a newbie

Postby GerryRigged » Thu Dec 29, 2011 9:04 pm

When you'r hiking in the mountains your walking in the mountains, so walking is a good way to get started.
Pick one of the foothills open space/ parks trails and start hiking. Start with a one mile round trip walk ( half mile each way). Add a quater mile to your next walk. You will be supprised at how fast you get in condition.

Good hiking

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Re: Very much a newbie

Postby scramble » Thu Dec 29, 2011 9:09 pm

Lately I've been enjoying "hiking" 15 to 20 minute miles on a 15 degree inclined treadmill. Also if you're willing to fork out a couple hundred bucks for waterproof boots, microspikes, gaiters, a good base layer (or something like that) why not try some local hikes? I even did Mt. Sanitas some weeks ago and it was bone dry, so maybe the lower-elevation peaks don't keep their snow so much. If you're in the Boulder area, nobody has to twist my arm to do a little OSMP hike. Especially Green Mountain on a Friday night, I'll bring beer! :-D

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Re: Very much a newbie

Postby mountaindude » Thu Dec 29, 2011 9:27 pm

Bike riding is my preference. Can help you quickly build up endurance.

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Re: Very much a newbie

Postby SeracZack » Thu Dec 29, 2011 9:35 pm

I've also found that a good way to train for the 14ers is to actually hike them. Do the winter conditioning, walking, jogging, bike, etc. and then pick a few easy hikes for this summer. These easy hikes don't necessarily need to be 14ers, but there are a few easier ones that come to mind and stick to those. The most important part is to get out there and have fun doing it!
Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing.
-Helen Keller

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Re: Very much a newbie

Postby Kapelmuur » Thu Dec 29, 2011 10:50 pm

Cross-training is great as anything that improves your cardio and leg strength will be of benefit. That said, I've found that the real challenge of hiking up and down the average mountain is endurance--wear and tear on the joints in particular--both physical and mental.

So as stated above, the best way to train to hike/climb mountains is to do just that. Start low, like around 8,000 and start to work your way up trip by trip. FWIW, of the modest number of 14ers I've climbed I found Bierstadt to be the easiest by far.
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Re: Very much a newbie

Postby gonzalj » Fri Dec 30, 2011 7:02 am

Well, a couple of things I started doing about 6 months before I started hiking 14ers is first off cardio. What my personal trainer has had me do before is incorporate cardio into my exercise circuit. For example, 1 circuit would be 5 minutes on the treadmill at a 18 degree incline, then 6 different exercises (2 upper body, 2 abdominal & 2 lower body). If you do 2 to 3 circuits per workout, you will be amazed at the difference and can probably start hiking 13ers & 14ers at that point. Also, as others have already started mentioning, start small hikes at lower elevations and work your way up. Denver has trails around Green Mountain in Lakewood, Chataqua park in Boulder is good, then gradually work your way up to RMNP, guanella pass, summit county and you'll be good to go. If you're ever looking for hiking partners, just post something here and I'm sure you'll find people to join. Good luck and enjoy as this can get very fun & addicting.

Re: Very much a newbie

Postby gonzalj » Fri Dec 30, 2011 7:11 am

One other thing I forgot to mention. If you're at a gym that offers zumba classes, they are a lot of fun & a great cardio workout.

Re: Very much a newbie

Postby forbins_mtn » Fri Dec 30, 2011 7:52 am

i'm an avid exerciser. i'm doing something six days of the week. first off: no smoking if you wanna climb mountains. I quit over the summer when i went balls to the wall with mountains, and my lungs still give me trouble while climbing. I ran 8 miles yesterday with no issues. but i climbed a 13er on Monday and my lungs weren't burning, but i can still tell i don't have maximum capacity yet. i recover within five-ten seconds cuz i'm in shape. but my lungs can often be huffing and puffing.

that being said, with any workout regime you need to keep your body guessing. these cross training workouts are amazing for that. it's constantly making the body guess as to what is happening. you can also bike one day, run the next, elliptical the next and of course, the ever amazing stairmaster. with your legs, i highly highly recommend squats and deadlifts. these are crucial to developing muscle groups in the hamstrings, quads, calves and back. these are huge muscle groups - and should be worked weekly. if you want to do Class 3+ you really should be doing a lot of back workouts. Pull ups are amazing. If you start to rock climb you're going to need to be able to lift your body weight using back and legs. a lot of people struggle with pull ups, but do them from the beginning. they're crucial and will increase every other muscle group. my bench press went up drastically after a month of working hard on my back

obviously, everyone does it differently. but i lift one day, cardio the next. but my cardio workouts are long. you can also do 20-30 minutes of cardio each day, and lift on the same days. muscle groups need at least 48 hours to recover before being worked again.

Re: Very much a newbie

Postby gonzalj » Fri Dec 30, 2011 8:29 am

I also very much agree with what forbins_mtn said about smoking. I used to smoke about 2 years ago before I started hiking 14ers and remember huffing and puffing at 10,000 and 11,000 feet and asked myself, how in the world am I going to hike a 14er. I quit about 4 months before I started hiking them and now it's been 21 months since I quit and makes a huge difference. Also, on the pull ups, about 7 months ago I couldn't even do 1 and now I can do 5 per set and they are making a difference for me, so definitely +1 on that. Most importantly to remember, challenge yourself, but don't shoot for the stars immediately. Just strive to constantly make small improvements over time and eventually it will pay dividends for you.

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Re: Very much a newbie

Postby ThuChad » Fri Dec 30, 2011 9:18 am

All the above suggestions are great but don't neglect your diet. There are several pieces to the puzzle. Obviously, eating right will help you attain your goals faster. As little as 5 pounds makes a big difference going up and down mountains... especially on joints coming down.
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Re: Very much a newbie

Postby MountainHiker » Fri Dec 30, 2011 10:02 am

Denver has a great network of green belt paths. There are also lots of park trails in the hills at the edge of the city. Even walking for 30 to 45 minutes every lunch time can add up. I work in a large building, so I can get in another walk indoors after work during the winter. We also have a set of steps inside with 36’ 10" elevation gain. 30 laps gives me 1100’ elevation gain.

When we start getting the evening light back I’ll again be walking outdoors after work. The hour I walk after work allows me to drive home with less traffic and in a better state of mind. Also in my basement gym I have a treadmill and weights.

Depending how out of shape you are you may want to work into this gradually. Caution: Muscles can respond faster than joints can toughen up. Ligaments, tendons and cartridges are dynamic but take longer to adapt than muscles. It is common for people to strain a joint just when their muscles are starting to feel great about being in shape.

Hiking is great training for hiking. One reason is you are wearing a pack. Don’t add extra training weight, just pack the stuff you should have for the hike. You will be training your body to the weight and balance of the pack over uneven terrain.

You might find this involves a lifestyle change. Getting up early and hiking ever Saturday means Friday night is about getting ready for the hike.
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