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Training for 14ers

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

Postby jdorje » Fri Sep 28, 2012 10:13 am

Novice-level deep squatting is the best, most complex, and most relevant exercise to vertical hiking. Strength training done at a particular weight, speed, or level of complexity can be applied at a lower weight, speed, or level of complexity but not at a higher one. Squatting is inherently a complex movement and doing it at a high weight and medium speed will translate almost perfectly over to vertical hiking.

As you enter the intermediate level (or more simply, say beyond about 150% of your bodyweight for a 5rm) this may no longer be quite as true. As you advance to higher squat weights, it's usually through hamstring and glute strength, while vertical hiking primarily uses your quads. It's possible that front squatting or possibly cleaning would be a superior exercise at that point.

It's also certainly true that excess bodyweight or low-density muscle isn't going to do you nearly as much good as dense, lean muscle. A bodybuilder may do sets of 20 and get huge legs, while someone training for a sport that requires strength would do sets of 5 across at a higher weight. If you're really worried about getting too much muscle mass, sets of 3 across might be the way to go as you enter the intermediate level. Of course the same logic always applies: few reps at high weight will build strength, while many reps at low weight will build muscle mass. Sets of 5 is recommended for most people in strength/power sports. This is not news for anyone with experience in lifting, but given that lay people are usually taught "many reps for 'toned' muscles, few reps for big muscles" it's probably important to let them know that that advice is dead wrong.

Are we off topic yet?
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Re: Training for 14ers

Postby madbuck » Fri Sep 28, 2012 11:16 am

Lots of...responses here. Some good ones!

Regarding your specific question and your specific situation and goals:

1. You love hiking and want to do more of it
2. You already do or have enjoyed running
3. You expressed a desire to lose a challenging amount of weight (that's great!)
4. You live in Wheat Ridge close to some great hills

Based on that, like many have already said, your best success will likely come from a combination of cardio, specifically from running, spinning (which you already enjoy), and hiking.
You've run the Colfax half a half dozen times -- you love running outside in the city, too! That's awesome, and keep reminding yourself of that!

Therefore, the responses of people who "hate" running are probably not as specific to you...so I think a focus on strength training and indoor exercises, while useful (especially to those who dislike running, have joint issues, live in unsafe or inclimate weather or have a schedule that prohibits being outside as much, etc.), are not as specific and important to your background, IMHO.

You have the building blocks right in front of you in terms of goal setting: hike more or all (seriously!) the 14ers; get your weight into a healthy, ideal range; run the Colfax half marathon faster; run your workouts during the week faster and farther; spin faster and farther.

Keeping your eye on the prize, be honest about taking 2-3 years of steady weight loss and enjoy the journey. Having an exercise partner is great, and research shows one of the most important things is to surround yourselves with likeminded people (it works both ways!)...socially, how about groups like Highland Tap Run Club?

Since you love running, as you get ready for your next Half Marathon, take your training up a notch and focus on 3 specific runs during the week: a long run (which you're probably used to from training), but also a tempo run and speedwork...surely you'll see this in training discussions, but the point is to run very hard for short distances sometimes, and pretty hard for 20-60 minutes or so, regularly.
Many people get so excited about completing longer distances, that they don't push themselves any faster than their typical long run. Signing up for a 5k or 10k and running it as hard as you can would be quite helpful.

In addition to great bike trails right in Denver, as you've discovered, places like Green Mountain are great as well. When you get some habits and familiarity, you can consider places like Green Mtn. for vigorous workouts as well, e.g. get to the antenna tower without stopping, and then do it faster the next time, etc.

As others said, and I promise it's true, doing vigorous activities for an hour+ nearly all days (5-7) of the week keeps you fit but also isn't a chore when you're doing what you enjoy. If you have additional time, or if you really enjoy and see benefits from strength training, by all means add that. And if you have unusual chronic pain in joints and ligaments, consider appropriate stretching and strengthening. But I would put most emphasis on your situation with CV exercise for weight loss.

Have fun and keep at it!

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Re: Training for 14ers

Postby DaveSwink » Fri Sep 28, 2012 11:26 am

madbuck wrote:your best success will likely come from a combination of cardio, specifically from running, spinning (which you already enjoy), and hiking. You've run the Colfax half a half dozen times -- you love running outside in the city, too! That's awesome, and keep reminding yourself of that!

Therefore, the responses of people who "hate" running are probably not as specific to you


If you decide to start running more, try to do a lot of it on trails. Trail running is easier on your legs and will toughen up ankle/knees for mountain clmbing. I signed up for a half marathon or 10K every 6 weeks or so in 2012 and it really helped my motivation to run regularly.

When winter makes 14ers much harder, remember that hikes at lower altitudes are more fun in the winter!

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Re: Training for 14ers

Postby Randy » Fri Sep 28, 2012 11:38 am

I would hike as much as possible, thats the best training for hiking. I wont debate all the other responses but I will add this. People new to hiking in regards to 14ers need to learn what I think is the most important lesson. You will breathe hard, you will feel tired thats hiking, learn to push through and find your pace then keep going. My trick to hiking is to find my pace and rest very briefly ( 1 minute to 2 minutes max) for the whole ascent as often as I need it, but no long rest ( 10 minutes is way to long). Get toug and realize suffering is mountaineering, the abilty to embrace the suffering makes you stronger. :x

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Re: Training for 14ers

Postby pstew85 » Fri Sep 28, 2012 4:12 pm

[/quote]If your gym has an actual stairmaster, that is infinitely better than the elliptical. But if not, the elliptical will get the job done, at least to start. I hate to admit [that ellipticals aren't totally useless], but for a lot of overweight people, they're alright.[/quote]

I used to have the same sentiment about ellipticals, but this past summer my opinion totally changed. I think it's possible to get a killer workout on the elliptical. For 2 months prior to Hardrock most of my training was on the elliptical and I finished in under 30 hours. I don't think I lost much fitness in those 2 months where I didn't run. When I did intervals on the elliptical I could get my heart rate up to 170. And adding resistance felt similar to hiking.

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Re: Training for 14ers

Postby madbuck » Fri Sep 28, 2012 4:16 pm

pstew85 wrote:For 2 months prior to Hardrock most of my training was on the elliptical and I finished in under 30 hours. I don't think I lost much fitness in those 2 months where I didn't run. When I did intervals on the elliptical I could get my heart rate up to 170. And adding resistance felt similar to hiking.


Wow, you pretty much crushed HR (I'm friends with Andy G. and heard about it/saw you finish) and Quad Rock (my backyard) and I had no idea you had that much elliptical training!

Were you recovering from some sort of injury, or did that end up being your preferred training?

Re: Training for 14ers

Postby Bean » Fri Sep 28, 2012 4:25 pm

pstew85 wrote:I used to have the same sentiment about ellipticals, but this past summer my opinion totally changed. I think it's possible to get a killer workout on the elliptical. For 2 months prior to Hardrock most of my training was on the elliptical and I finished in under 30 hours. I don't think I lost much fitness in those 2 months where I didn't run. When I did intervals on the elliptical I could get my heart rate up to 170. And adding resistance felt similar to hiking.


Wow.

My opinion of ellipticals has always been pretty negative, but I guess you've shown that they can be useful. And I can't even imagine the mental toughness required to/developed by what I'm guessing was many hours on an elliptical.
gdthomas wrote:Bean, you're an idiot.

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Re: Training for 14ers

Postby pstew85 » Fri Sep 28, 2012 6:57 pm

madbuck wrote:
pstew85 wrote:For 2 months prior to Hardrock most of my training was on the elliptical and I finished in under 30 hours. I don't think I lost much fitness in those 2 months where I didn't run. When I did intervals on the elliptical I could get my heart rate up to 170. And adding resistance felt similar to hiking.


Wow, you pretty much crushed HR (I'm friends with Andy G. and heard about it/saw you finish) and Quad Rock (my backyard) and I had no idea you had that much elliptical training!

Were you recovering from some sort of injury, or did that end up being your preferred training?


I was recovering from an injury. Tendonitis in my foot which flared up after Quad Rock. I literally ran less than 20 miles (and only biked once a week) in the 2 months between Quad Rock and Hard Rock. The rest was elliptical.

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Re: Training for 14ers

Postby SSC_43 » Fri Sep 28, 2012 9:22 pm

Bean wrote:
pstew85 wrote:I used to have the same sentiment about ellipticals, but this past summer my opinion totally changed. I think it's possible to get a killer workout on the elliptical. For 2 months prior to Hardrock most of my training was on the elliptical and I finished in under 30 hours. I don't think I lost much fitness in those 2 months where I didn't run. When I did intervals on the elliptical I could get my heart rate up to 170. And adding resistance felt similar to hiking.


Wow.

My opinion of ellipticals has always been pretty negative, but I guess you've shown that they can be useful. And I can't even imagine the mental toughness required to/developed by what I'm guessing was many hours on an elliptical.


For whatever it's worth, there are many different types of ellipticals. I've been to some gyms that I couldn't use *any* ellipticals at, and others where I want to use nothing but them. There's a lot of types and variants.

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Re: Training for 14ers

Postby Dark Helmet » Tue Oct 16, 2012 11:13 am

jdorje wrote:Novice-level deep squatting is the best, most complex, and most relevant exercise to vertical hiking. Strength training done at a particular weight, speed, or level of complexity can be applied at a lower weight, speed, or level of complexity but not at a higher one. Squatting is inherently a complex movement and doing it at a high weight and medium speed will translate almost perfectly over to vertical hiking.





lots of truth there...


late to the party, but to directly address OP... if you are serious about the volume of weight you need to lose, be careful how much running you do and how quickly you add miles. Run? absolutely, but listen to your body carefully and I'd likely shy away from running more than 3x per week until you lose about half the the goal amount... why? knees and back... the stresses the additional weight places on them can be dangerous. cross train like crazy and add strength all over your body and focus on losing maybe 10lbs per month... that's it.

nothing groundbreaking, I know... but GOOD LUCK and I hope to see you on more summits next year!

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Re: Training for 14ers

Postby colokeith » Tue Oct 16, 2012 11:56 am

I lost 126 lbs in the last 3 years. I can tell you that losing weight will make the biggest difference, in how easy it is to get up mountains. I am sure this thread is full of great suggestions, but here is my .02.

Diet matters!!
learn everything you can about nutrition. Diet does not mean restricting yourself, you probably need to learn a whole different way of eating / thinking about food.
You should focus on slowly improving how you eat. I did find calorie / nutrition tracking (myFitnessPal) to be very useful in examining and reshaping my habits.
You don't have to give up the food you like. You need to learn to love different food, eat calorie dense foods in moderation, and make better bad choices.

Go slowly, and work on improving every week
I started with walking, easier hikes, 5-10 mile bike rides. 3 years later I am running 10Ks, biking 80+ miles in a ride, hiking 14ers easily, snowboarding ...

In order to improve every week you need to have a plan. If you want to run do something like C25k. If you are into hiking plan out progressively harder hikes. Aiming to increase distance / elevation by ~10% per week should be perfect. At first it will seem like you are progressing slowly. However, pushing to hard to fast is the primary way to get injured and set yourself back for months.

Set lots of goals
Set Big goals that will take more than a year to achieve. This is things like finishing the 14ers, loosing that 100lbs, climbing longs peak ...

Set medium goals This is things like run a 5K this summer, hike at least 5 peaks this year, complete p90X

Set small goals. This will be your weekly / daily goals (run 20 mi this week), bike 25 miles this weekend ...

Your goals should be planned in a way so that the small goals are challenging, but achievable and accomplishing the small goals will eventually lead you to your larger goal. Write these goals down, focus on them, think about how good it will feel to achieve them, and refuse to quit until you have.

Balance is crucial
Focus on being all around fit. This means eating well, doing strength training, stretching, resting, drinking lots of water, endurance cardio, anerobic cardio, and working on balance.
Try to change what you are doing, and challenge yourself with something new every 3 months or so. This will keep things fresh, and keep you progressing.

Have Fun!!
Exercising outside is a lot of fun. It needs to be challenging and hard, but you will soon learn to love it. The phrase I like to use is "embrace the suck"
Last edited by colokeith on Tue Oct 16, 2012 12:57 pm, edited 2 times in total.
To climb is to push yourself in a way you might not normally imagine is possible. If your stamina, skill, and luck are sound you will get to stand on top. ... I realized that with climbing, I'd found something that nourished my soul and could forge me into a better version myself - Jim Davidson

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Re: Training for 14ers

Postby Andymcp1 » Tue Oct 16, 2012 12:40 pm

I have to say I agree alot with Keith. Getting Fit is not a single diet, workout, or program, but a reshaping of how you view yourself and the world around you. Set goals, some long term (like running a marathon, getting a 6 pack, finishing all the 14ers in a summer), and then set medium goals ( 10k in 6 months, 40 mile weekend hike) and then your short term goals (loose 2lbs this week, increase treadmill speed to 6.2mph). It is important to have the day to day view on eating healthy and beggining exercise so you dont get lost in the big picture and give up hope, but it is essential to have the long term goals to re focus you on why your doing all this.

Write down your goals for 3 months out- even if that goal is to hike easier, look better with your shirt off, have your wife get all hot for ya. Then continue on for a few more months out. Make plans.

My goal with fitness is to always be able to accecpt a challenge, race, event, hike ....etc without having to think twice or say "I cant do that"


Good luck, stay focused, when you get down read the goals you set for yourself. Be the change!!

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