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Fitness training for my first 14er

FAQ and threads for those just starting to hike the Colorado 14ers.
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Fitness training for my first 14er

Postby hamerhokie » Tue Oct 09, 2007 3:33 pm

Hello all, I am a total newbie. I am an East Coaster who's been to Colorado a few times and hiked a bit here and there, plus did some rock climbing in the Estes Park area. My last visit took me to Ouray near Sneffels, and along the route that passes Antero, Princeton, etc. I've been exposed to enough 14ers now to know that I'd like to climb one. I've picked Gray's Peak for next summer.

Problem is, I need to work up from basically a low fitness level with no mountains in the area. All I have access to are treadmills with 15 degree incline and a finite amount of time each week.

The one-way trip to the Gray's summit comes to 3.75 miles at an average pitch of greater than 15 degrees. So my initial thoughts are to max the treadmill incline and work up to about a 4 mile hike at a reasonable pace.

So what is a reasonable pace? Two mph? Greater? Less? Or do you have any better training ideas? When I say no mountains in the area, I'm serious - hills only. So I am at a great training disadvantage here.

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Fitness

Postby Falcon3 » Tue Oct 09, 2007 3:41 pm

It really depends on your goals. If you are in moderate shape, you can huff your way up there pretty much no matter what. My first 14er was done when I was about 50 pounds overweight.

If you'd like to have an easier time, jogging on that incline sounds like it will work. Walking up and down stairs making sure to work your calves works great too. I just took up bike riding and it seems like it will help with quad strengthening. It really depends on what you enjoy doing and how much work you put into it. The more work you do beforehand, the easier your climb will be.

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Re: Fitness

Postby hamerhokie » Tue Oct 09, 2007 3:45 pm

Falcon3 wrote:It really depends on your goals. If you are in moderate shape, you can huff your way up there pretty much no matter what. My first 14er was done when I was about 50 pounds overweight.

If you'd like to have an easier time, jogging on that incline sounds like it will work. Walking up and down stairs making sure to work your calves works great too. I just took up bike riding and it seems like it will help with quad strengthening. It really depends on what you enjoy doing and how much work you put into it. The more work you do beforehand, the easier your climb will be.


My goal is to complete the hike. Right now I know I can't make 3.75 miles at a greater than 15 degree pitch at ANY speed.

What I really like to do are hike and rock climb. Hiking around here is nothing more than rolling hills with maybe 70-90 feet of elevation change. I dislike treadmilling but with a defined goal I am hoping it will motivate me.

CG_old

Postby CG_old » Tue Oct 09, 2007 3:47 pm

In addition to all the 'typical' stuff like running, stairs, etc... I'd recommend spending a lot of time moving at a moderate pace... long slow jogs, bike rides, and hikes. Get the body used to 4 or 6 or 8 hours of low-level exertion. You'll feel a lot better if you get the Endocrine system used to the long periods of stress...

You don't have to do it often, every couple of weeks should be enough...but get in some LONG days.

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Postby J-RockandRockpile » Tue Oct 09, 2007 3:48 pm

not trying to discourage in the least, obviously training and getting into shape will help immensly; but keep in mind any of the training you do throuhout the course of the year will be negated by a major lack of oxygen that you will not be able to prepare your body for.
I have been to the top of the mountain, and it is good

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Postby Starkey » Tue Oct 09, 2007 3:55 pm

I think the hardest thing about 14ers is the amount of time you are on your feet. You can train for that anywhere!

Most 14ers are relatively easy taken one small section at a time. But you have a lot of elevation to gain to get to the top.

What you can do to help you train is to go on long walks/hikes. Do your shoes/boots offer enough support to walk for this long? Can your muscles survive that long? You can work up to this point by taking long hikes in your area.

Let say you wanted to do Grays/Torreys combo. That's 8.25 miles with 3,600 ft gain. A conservative estimate to see how long this will take is one hour for each two miles and one hour for each 1,000 ft gain. So let's say with this estimate system that you will be on your feet for close to 8 hours. Can you do an 8 hour hike around your area?

Sure you can walk on a treadmill to get yourself used to walking uphill, but you need to be able to do it for long periods. Personally, I would go insane walking on a treadmill for 8 hours!

In other words, get on your feet and start hiking anywhere you can! That's the best way to train.

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Postby gander4 » Tue Oct 09, 2007 5:16 pm

J-Rock&Rockpile wrote:not trying to discourage in the least, obviously training and getting into shape will help immensly; but keep in mind any of the training you do throuhout the course of the year will be negated by a major lack of oxygen that you will not be able to prepare your body for.


Actually, you can simulate high altitude oxygen levels by drinking a lot of beer. Take time right before each training session to drink a six pack of beer. Then go do your training activity. The drunken feeling will prepare you for the high peaks.

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Postby Derek » Tue Oct 09, 2007 5:19 pm

hamerhokie wrote:Hiking around here is nothing more than rolling hills with maybe 70-90 feet of elevation change.


Don't cut short the lack of mountains. An all day hike ANYWHERE will help you. As you've probably pieced together from previous posts, any long, steady activity will help. Except for the lack of O2, which you're not going to be able to train for.

You can always do what I do...fill my daypack with as much water as it can hold and hike up and down the 16 floors of my apartment building over and over. :D But, beware of some strange looks. :shock:
"All dolled up in gabardine..."

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Postby superdawg » Tue Oct 09, 2007 5:30 pm

awesome. im from the east coast originally, and when i moved out here it took me a while to acclimatize. it took me a couple of tries before i finally summited a 14er - once i had to turn around at 13,000 feet because i almost blacked out. that said, i know plenty of people who just flew in from sea level and hiked a 14er within 24 hours of the flight (and they werent all in fantastic shape). i agree with the above posts that you should probably strive for a basic level of fitness in the coming months. treadmill, elliptical, bike, anything cardio is good. hikes are also good. but the altitude will definitely be a factor no matter what. as long as you recognize that and have a consistent exercise regimen between now and your hike, you shouldnt have a problem. your mental attitude is pretty important for this: if you can cope with the stress of HITTING THE WALL, you are more likely to endure the pain and summit.

there are a bunch of good posts on here about training - try searching for them.

also (and not to sound contradictory), as a bunch of people here have said in the past, its not so much getting up that can be the problem, but getting down (fatigue, thunderstorms, etc can really be crappy). its more important to get down safely than it is to reach the summit! so i guess my other advice would be to start early and be mentally prepared to turn around if you think you wont be able to make it to the top. the mountains will still be there when you decide to try again.

:)

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Postby Tory Wells » Tue Oct 09, 2007 5:33 pm

but keep in mind any of the training you do throuhout the course of the year will be negated by a major lack of oxygen that you will not be able to prepare your body for.


I disagree. The cardiovascular training you do is the only thing that can train your body to use oxygen better, which is clearly what you will need to do this. Start training now!!!! The better shape you can get into the less difficult this will be. Run, bike, swim, lift weights focusing on leg and core strength......it all starts now. This is a final exam you can't cram for!
"Tongue-tied and twisted, just an earthbound misfit, am I." -David Gilmour, Pink Floyd

"We knocked the bastard off." Hillary, 1953
"It is not the mountain we conquer but ourselves." Hillary, 2003
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Postby USAKeller » Tue Oct 09, 2007 6:20 pm

In addition to the advice people have given you so far, here are a few previous threads that people offered some more good advice on conditioning and training that you should find useful:

http://www.14ers.com/bb/viewtopic.php?t=5611

http://www.14ers.com/bb/viewtopic.php?t=4620

http://www.14ers.com/bb/viewtopic.php?t=4143
All we are called to do is do the next right thing.

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Postby noreaster » Tue Oct 09, 2007 6:48 pm

I am on the east coast and I can climb the day I land. Know your limits. May want to practice pressure breathing, it helps.

For training, see your doctor about your health. See if you can hit 70% of your maximum heart rate for 5 minutes of exercise at a time. Alternate walking with sprinting as fast as you can. Try to walk 4 hours per week. Take the stairs not the elevator, use your legs as much as you can. You'll be able to handle more after 4 to 6 weeks. Make the exercise fun. Winter is a challenge, get outdoors or into the gym.

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