And so the Training Begins

So here’s the rub, I’m 40 years old and in the worst shape I’ve been in for a while. With work and building my camper I haven’t left myself any time to take care of myself. I have a tendency to do that, I bury myself in projects thinking all along that once I finish “this” I’ll be able to do more training, more climbing, more kayaking, more livin man, L-I-V-I-N. I did this all through my 30s when I bought an old house and remodeled it one room at a time till I bought a rundown, failing climbing gym and turned it around. This time is particularly bad because I’m burying myself to finish a project so that I can live on the road and enjoy life but what’s the point if I’m in horrible shape to start off, and why do I have to be on the road to start living. I have decided that it’s time to start training…

Like I said I’m 40, half way to the grave but far from past my prime. I figure I still have a good 20 years of chasing audacious goals but only if I do it right. You don’t stop exercising because you get older, you get older because you stop exercising. What are these audacious goals? My primary activities are rock/ice/mountain climbing and white water kayaking but I also like to ski, mountain bike, white water raft, hike and most other outdoor activities. I want to get back up to where I was 3-4 years ago when I was training regularly and climbing harder than I ever had. I want to be in shape for the mountains, I have a long list of mountains that I still need to climb. I do have to deal with the reality that I’m not in my 20s anymore, I get injured easier, I don’t recover as fast, my metabolism has slowed down and hang overs really hurt now. These things won’t stop me though, they just mean I have to be smarter about how I train and I need to make better food choices.

I have broken down my plan for a healthier physical life into three critical components: Physical training, Dietary training, and Flexibility training. I will also be doing some mental training but that’s a topic in and of itself and I will have another series of posts about that. I am not an expert on this by any means. I have not gone to school but I have done a lot of reading and will continue to. I will also consult experts whenever possible, I’ve already been consulting with my friend and original training mentor Rob Pizem about contributing to the program and I will also get advice and tips from other crushers in the outdoor adventure world as I go along.

Along with these three components of training I will be working on a few things I have always just ignored in the past. I have extremely pour posture which will be greatly benefited by all the core workouts. I also have forward head and forward shoulders. I am not going to do much about it at first but as I settle into the routine of this new lifestyle and I’m training on a regular schedule I will start working on fixing these two issues with stretching and targeted workouts.

Physical Training

When I talk about physical training I’m mostly talking about training for climbing and not so much kayaking. I mean sure, I need to be fit for kayaking, but I’m pretty much the laziest paddler you’ll ever meet. I take the fewest number of paddle strokes possible when I’m on the river. I mean the current takes you downstream why do you need to paddle, you know besides avoiding things or hitting things. I’ll often float through a stretch of rapids only taking 4-5 paddle stokes the entire time. That said I’m not into play boating or class 5… yet. As I move along I intend on focusing some energy on play boating but a lot of the core and shoulder workouts I will already be doing will help with that. I also plan on paddling a few miles of flat water on lakes or in the ocean as cardio workouts from time to time so it will come.

The climbing/mountaineering training is going to be my primary focus but it is also where I’ll really have to watch how I train. I have had a few finger injuries in the past from trying to climb crimps “off the couch” and I’ve had knee issues from hiking too far with too much weight. I’ve been told before that ligaments and tendons take 8-10 times longer than your muscles do to get strong, so even if my muscles are strong enough to hold me my fingers might not be. For this reason I’m not going to be doing any climbing specific training till my base level of fitness is back where it was 4 years ago. I plan on climbing but nothing harder than mid 5.10 for a few months and no crimps or pockets without good feet for a long while. I don’t want to blow out a finger right after I hit the road and then spend 3-6 months recovering. My knee was a major issue for many years till I started training and rehabbing it. It was to the point where I couldn’t hike more than a few miles without a knee brace or I would have extreme pain that would last several days. When I started doing a regular training program with lots of squats, lunges, wall sits and the like my knee pain went away and the brace did as well.

For climbing I want lean muscle not bulk. Work outs will be body weight or low weight with lots of reps and there will be a lot of fat burning workouts. I will start off with a low intensity and increase as I go. For now I’m working a regular 9-5 so my workout schedule will work around that. I’m working as a welder which is physically demanding with lots of heavy lifting all day so higher intensity strength training is on hold till I’m done with this job. The focus for now will be on core, cardio, and easy climbing.

Dietary Training

Now when I say diet I’m not talking about some miracle diet guaranteed to make me lose X amount of weight in Y amount of time. I don’t believe in supplements, protein shakes, bars, gels, gummies, paleo, vegan, blah blah blah. My doctor says all I need to be healthy is to make smart choices with food and exercise regularly and he went to school and studied the human body for a hell of a lot longer than the dude trying to sell me a cleanse and an electrolyte rich energy drink with 20,000 times my daily recommended amount of B12. Now from time to time I’ll have some Honey Stingers but that shit is like candy… with crack in it… so yeah.

I don’t think weight is a good measure of health. For one muscle weighs more than fat but also you’re not healthy just because you’re skinny and you’re not unhealthy because you’re above the BMI chart. I used to have a supper fast metabolism and ate nothing but junk food and I was skinny as fuck. I mean I was 6’3” and 135lbs when I got out of high school. When I started climbing in my mid 20s it was the first time I was really athletic in my life, I went from 155lbs to 185lbs in 8 months because I was climbing all the time. Somewhere in my 30s my metabolism slowed down as did my climbing and other physical activity so now I have a gut, I call him Pablo. Pablo will be my measure of health for the purposes of this training and I will seldom, if ever, weigh myself or report on my weight. I’m not even sure how much I weigh as I write this but it’s somewhere around 220-225.  If I had the means to measure body fat percentage on a regular basis I might use it but really, Pablo tells the tale.

I don’t like to “quit” things. When I try to give up something it’s all I think about and I want it more. As of late I haven’t been making good food choices and the micro beer movement has been really good to Pablo. For the last several months my diet has consisted mostly of fast food with soda. If I go from that straight to eating tofu salads all I’m going to think about is double bacon cheese burgers with fries and Dr Pepper all day long. My pour food choices have come from working so much I don’t think about food till I’m starving then I’m just looking for the quickest way to get food. Instead if I lay out my meal plan to have slightly better food choices and then improve them as time goes on I won’t have mad cravings.

The beauty of this is that there is no cheating. I can have a bowl of ice cream or an In N Out burger, I just can’t have them all the time. For me, good food choices come from not being hungry and exercising regularly. All meal planning and grocery shopping need to be done when I’m not hungry, preferably an hour or two after a meal. The best is to do a workout, eat, and then go shopping an hour after that. I’m still on the endorphin high from the workout, I’m not hungry, and ice cream and other junk food don’t sound as good. Now to go from a workout straight to shopping will have the opposite effect.

My definition of “good food choices” might be different from yours. It’s definitely different than any of the trend diets that have come out in the last 30 years. I define a good food choice as eating nutrient rich foods that are low in sugars, bad cholesterol, or mono anything. Cutting back on processed food and eating lots of fresh fruits and vegetables as well as wholegrains. Fresh means going to the store 2 or three times a week, I don’t buy more than three days’ worth of perishables at a time. Eat less food that consists primarily of ingredients I can’t pronounce. I said “less”, I’m still going to eat Velveeta Shells and Cheese, I don’t care if they put rat poison in it.

I’m going to do the best I can to eat at the same times every day and never less than 2 hours before bed. I’m not going to cut back on my caloric intake to lose weight. I’m going to need those calories for energy and cutting back will affect the intensity at which I train which will affect my body’s ability to burn fat and build muscle. This isn’t about weight loss, this is about a healthier life.

And the micro-brew??? Ok, let’s be honest, there’s not going to be any reduction in the beer consumption, I mean have you tried 90 Schilling, Buffalo Gold, or Lands End? I’m just going to have to do more cardio.

Flexibility Training

I’m not doing yoga, that shit’s hard, and it hurts in places I don’t want to hurt. I believe there is a base level of flexibility one has to have in order to do the easiest of beginner classes and I just don’t have that. The first time I ever touched my toes in my life was a few years ago when I was actually working on it. Not that it is my only gauge of flexibility but it’s easy enough to track, I can’t touch them now. I plan on going back to the regimen from before until I feel I might actually be able to do an easy beginner level yoga class… Maybe… I mean yoga isn’t the only way to work on flexibility…I’m just saying.

Week 1:

Physical

1-2hours of lower intensity fat burning cardio Monday, Wednesday and Friday (hike/road bike)

1-2 hours low intensity climbing in the gym Tuesday and Thursday.

Longer hike with Aukie on Sat.

Core will be a six minute workout every day with the exception of one rest day each week. Each exercise will be done for 1 min and without a pause between. This is about fighting through failure. If I can’t continue for the full minute I will stop for a second or two but then get right back to it. If I’m ever able to complete even half of the six minutes without resting I will make the workout harder.

This routine will not change for a very long time so I will refer to it in all future blog posts as just CORE!

Even number days

  • Mountain climbers
  • V ups
  • Plank
  • Flutter kicks
  • Side elbow plank
  • Bridges
Odd Number days

  • Spidermans
  • Russian twist
  • Plank
  • Bridges
  • One arm plank
  • Supermans

Dietary

With my current work schedule I eat lunch at noon then get off work at 2:30. So lunch at noon then eat a high energy snack like a granola bar or mixed nuts around 2pm. The climbing gym is 10 min from my work and so are good bike and hiking trails.

This is the meal plan I came up with for the first week. It’s the first time I’ve ever done one and I’ll know I’ll get better over time, and hopefully faster. meal-planning

Flexibility

All of my stretching will be done at the end of a workout while my muscles are warm.

Upper body

  • Praying hands, hands up then down
  • Triceps stretch
  • Delt stretch
  • Crisscross arm swings
  • Arm circles, arms out to each side
  • Stirring the pot
  • Wrist circles
  • Reach up and right then up and left
  • Bicep stretch

Lower Body

  • Flamingos
  • Lunge stretch with calf stretch
  • Butterfly
  • Straddle
  • Figure 4 (hamstrings)
  • Half lotus
  • Lay down and pull Knee to opposite chest
  • Pretzel
  • Arms out shoulders both touching cross knee over body
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