Training/workouts/exercise/session/thrashing/beasting/gymming … Whatever term you use it all comes down to one focus – improving yourself physically and mentally.
I feel I can write a post about training now. I’ve been seeing real improvements over the last 3 months on the run up to my Denali expedition. It’s a real relief to see clear results of my developments because in the last year or so, moving forward with training was going at a real slow rate and injuries kept reoccurring. A few years ago I was fit as a fiddle, some may even say too fit/did too much as it later developed to injury (and when I say injury I mean running so much that I broke the bones in my feet.) Being injured really knocked me off guard and I lost my focus a little in the fear of injuring myself again.
I think it took me a full year of steady exercise to get my good fitness base back and with that base I’ve been able to build upon it and get fitter much quicker.
It’s not until now that I realise how backwards my injuries put me. I’m sure my lung capacity shrinked and that’s what has taken so long to get back.
Now that it’s finally back I feel so much stronger. Just being able to take that extra oxygen in is such an advantage.
With 6 weeks to go until Denali I thought I would outline some of the main ways I’ve been training whilst working a full time job.
I’m primarily a morning runner. I have the little battle in my head as I wake up of should I or shouldn’t I run and the best way to shut off that battle is to put my running gear on and go! My favourite way to run at the moment is to work. It’s about 9km with a few inclines which adds to the benefit. I absolutely adore running to work because I arrive at the office full of endorphins and keen to do more exercise after work to keep the buzz going. Hill sprints are also invaluable – find a good hill that takes around 30 – 45 seconds to run up (make sure it has a good incline!). Then run up as fast as possible and a jog down used as recovery, do three followed by a minute rest then another three focusing on running on the toes, minute rest then another three with high knees. Run them all as quickly as possible – a real heart pounder and lung buster!
When I don’t run to work, I cycle. It’s a no brainer to me. I’ve come to hate public transport in London so with a bike I feel so much more free. I like to get from A to B as quickly as possible so I go as fast as I can (minus the stops at the traffic lights which actually add a little to the ride because of the stop start on the legs.)
HIKING + STAIR CLIMBING
A little harder in London but on weekends when I’m out of the city it’s possible. In London the best place to go is Hampstead Heath… It’s beautiful too.
Once a week after work I pop on my 60lbs bag and go up and down my home stairs 70 – 100 times. It’s surprisingly effective although I only do once a week because going down on the hard stairs is sometimes a little harsh for the knees.
SPRINTS AND POWER SESSIONS
The rower and stationary bike is great for this. 500m sprints on the rower with 1 minute break and 1 minute sprints on bike with 1.5 minute active recovery.
This is something I find hardest to do simply because I forget to do it! You know the drill – sit ups, crunches, pull ups, plank, squats, press ups, lunges, side plank etc. Plus any extra arm work outs.
This has mixed evidence in whether it works or not but I really rate the things. For those of you who haven’t heard of them they are an apparatus that is intended to improve lung capacity – perfect for altitude training.
It simply works by restricting the amount of air you can take in at once so bigger breathes are better. You put a peg on you nose and breath in as hard as you can 30 times. The more powerful your breath the more air you can get. I find that it really works the muscles around your lungs and gets them used to filling lungs up as much as possible with whatever air is accessible. I highly recommend. Twice a day, 30 times each, increasing the level as you get better at it.
LONG WEEKENDS / THE REAL THING
Get out on the hill and do the real thing. Can’t beat that kind of training and if I could I would be in the mountains with my heavy pack all the time in prep for Denali. Great for confidence, gear testing and works the exact muscles needed to climb those mountains.
Those are my main areas of training and they seem to be working so far. I’m really excited to put everything into play in Alaska. I’m feeling strong and just want to get stronger!! Mentally I know what a challenge it will be, especially the first few days when our packs and sleds are immensely heavy.