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Training for 14ers

FAQ and threads for those just starting to hike the Colorado 14ers.
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Training for 14ers

Postby kaitimae » Tue Sep 25, 2012 6:37 pm

I have a question for some of you more experienced hikers...

I'm still relatively new to hiking, and only have 2 14er summits to my name (Grays and Democrat). I love love love hiking. But I am having a hard time reaching even the easier summits. (Quandry, Bierstadt twice, and wasn't able to get any adjoining peaks on the ones I did summit.)

I do need to lose some weight, and I'm positive that will help a lot. (And by some, I mean probably close to a hundred pounds.) I've been working hard on changing my diet and making exercise a regular part of my life.

In the meantime though - is there anything I can do to make getting up mountains easier? Would it be helpful for me to hike more feet at a lower elevation, or would I be better off just trying to get as much high elevation hiking as possible in?

My main problem is that I have a harder time catching my breath that high up. My legs are very strong, thanks to 3x/week spin classes! And if I had all day, I would summit more. I'm quite persistent. :-D But when bad weather is rolling in or my hiking partners have summitted and are ready to go home, I don't have much choice.

Thanks for any ideas you all may have. No matter what I won't let this stop me from trying... hiking anywhere, even without a summit, is still a thrill. =)
Have faith in the long haul, have fun in the short term. ~wildlobo71

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Re: Training for 14ers

Postby Dancesatmoonrise » Tue Sep 25, 2012 6:44 pm

When they asked Eddy Merckx how he won so many bike races, his reply in broken English was simply,

"Ride lots."



Hang in there, do something daily for aerobic exercise, you'll get there. :wink:

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Re: Training for 14ers

Postby Upstate Hiker » Tue Sep 25, 2012 6:57 pm

Run. Run almost every day. Run like you are running for your life. Run until you think you cannot go any further and then run 3 more miles. Seriously, it works.

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Re: Training for 14ers

Postby rockchalker » Tue Sep 25, 2012 7:03 pm

I agree in that I think running is the simplest and best way to prepare, minimal equipment requirements and something that can be done at anytime in essentially any type of weather.
"Richness is defined not by who has the most but by who needs the least."

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Re: Training for 14ers

Postby DaveSwink » Tue Sep 25, 2012 7:06 pm

kaitimae wrote:I'm still relatively new to hiking, and only have 2 14er summits to my name (Grays and Democrat).

I do need to lose some weight, and I'm positive that will help a lot.


Wow. Congratulations on the success! I started hiking seven years ago when I was 55 pounds heavier. You are doing much better than me, but I found the joy of getting outdoors as often as possible made gradual weight happen, which in turn made playing in the mountains easier.

kaitimae wrote:In the meantime though - is there anything I can do to make getting up mountains easier? Would it be helpful for me to hike more feet at a lower elevation


Bingo. Find nearby trails and make them yours. Hike at least three times a week. It will ease your mind while making you stronger! Fourteeners are great, but there is a lot of fun to be had on most Colorado trails.

kaitimae wrote:... hiking anywhere, even without a summit, is still a thrill.


Post here asking for hiking trails near your home. You will find lots of trails and hiking buddies.

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Re: Training for 14ers

Postby wildlobo71 » Tue Sep 25, 2012 7:10 pm

The responses here are going to be repetitive for the most part... I lost 75# doing it - just get out and hike (and adjust diet as needed for faster loss, just do it smartly.) Go to Mount Falcon, or any of the local mountain parks, get your music in your ears and discover each trail... do this weekly, even twice or three times... do what you can, work your way up to a 6 hour Saturday and all 15 miles of Mt. Falcon. Outside of hiking, if you work on the 5th floor, like I do, take the stairs - walk the parking garage - park in the fringes, not in close... wherever you go to do whatever - walk the extra steps. The elevator and escalators are your enemies.

Get to altitude as much as you can afford and tolerate - don't worry about summiting a 14er, just get high altitude experience. Pick some mid-level peaks that have good trails to start, like Squaw, Papoose and Chief... Bergen Peak in Evergreen is great for this. Go up on the Ben Tyler Trail and get to the flats below the summits - that itself is a long day of work. Work your way up... Go to Mt. Bierstadt and set a goal - the plateau, or the ridge below the crux... don't worry about turning around or not summiting, that's not the goal. Guess what - if you feel good that day, press on and go past the goal and try to summit. No one needs to know why you are out there - they will applaud that you are. Eventually, go back for Torreys (and repeat Grays) and do Decalibron, Quandary and then....

This is the long version of what has been said... it'll happen. Have faith in the long haul, have fun in the short term.
Bill W.
Yes, I have my Scotch.

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Re: Training for 14ers

Postby iceman » Tue Sep 25, 2012 7:11 pm

Find a trail with some elevation gain (500' to 1000') near your home or work. Push yourself up it daily or a few times a week. Nothing will help your hiking/climbing endurance better than hiking and climbing.

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Re: Training for 14ers

Postby DaveSwink » Tue Sep 25, 2012 7:12 pm

I love running now (just 30 pounds overweight), but be aware that while spinning will make your legs/heart strong, your ankles and knees may not be ready to bear your weight under the pounding that running delivers. I had to hike and climb for years before I could take on running as a full-time activity. Hopefully, your experience will differ, but if not, don't get discouraged but just enjoy hiking/climbing.

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Re: Training for 14ers

Postby Derek_Cisler » Tue Sep 25, 2012 7:32 pm

+1 on the running. I've also found specific exercises can be extremely helpful as well. For the legs...squats, lunges and calf raises. For the upper body...shoulder and back exercises (you'll be carrying some weight with this part of your body bearing the load). And don't forget the core! Planks, side planks, decline planks, swiss ball exercises, medicine ball exercises...all that stuff. My knees can handle only so much running, so I have to make up for that in other ways.


Derek Cisler
St. Charles, MO

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Re: Training for 14ers

Postby rijaca » Tue Sep 25, 2012 7:42 pm

Do aerobic activity (bike, jog, elliptical) 45-60 min five days/week. Personally, I like riding my mountain bike. Go for a 4-6 hour (or longer) hike in the mountains somewhere (lots of close parks if you can't get into the high country) once/week. Year round. Have fun.
"Spent a little time on the mountain
Spent a little time on the hill"

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Re: Training for 14ers

Postby cftbq » Tue Sep 25, 2012 7:50 pm

As a runner myself, I will offer one serious caveat: Don't push yourself too hard, too fast. Especially if you still need to lose some weight, running will put additional (i.e., unaccustomed) stress on your ankles, knees, and hips. Pushing your limits is good, but push them gradually, especially at the beginning.
A good rule of thumb is not to lose more than 1% of your body weight per week, because your body can only build the metabolic infrastructure needed to support new muscle tissue (capillaries, lung capacity, etc.) so fast. That said, good for you for getting started, and looking for ways to develop faster! Good luck with future climbs.
I have been to the mountaintop, and I have seen the force
and the power that animates the universe. That may not
match up with your anthropomorphic or teleological idea of
what "god" is, but it's good enough for me.

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Re: Training for 14ers

Postby pvnisher » Tue Sep 25, 2012 7:51 pm

While I agree with the "go running and hiking" group, I'll add something new.

Get a partner to exercise with. It helps hold you accountable when you don't want to workout so that you don't flake out on them.

Exercise videos are good for getting a workout in at your house if you don't have time to get to the gym or trail every day. Some of the Jillian Michaels videos are suprisingly good. :-" I used to laugh at them, but they're good 20-30 mins if that's all you've got. Doing a little something every day is important to keeping your metabolism up.

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