Know that friend who’s been talking for years about climbing X mountain, but it just hasn’t happened?
Or does that sound a little bit like you?
But I’m a firm believer that it’s also within reach of mere mortals. And yes, that includes those of us with jobs, relationships, families, and who are greater than 6 percent body fat. (Rubs pot belly.)
So in today’s post, I’m counting down the top three reasons that people DON’T climb their mountains (as evidenced by several polls in my mountaineering training Facebook group). 😥
And if one of these is holding you back, I’ll also point you to some helpful resources on the blog and beyond.
So let’s dive in, starting with #3 …
#3. You don’t have enough time to train.
I get it. Training for a big climb like Mt. Rainier or similar takes a buttload of time. (Though maybe not as much as some “experts” would like you to believe.)
And you are more than a climbing machine. You also have to make money, find and keep love, raise kids, and throw the tennis ball for the dog. 🐶
My main teaching on this one: if you wait for the right time to train, when life is easy and free time is abundant, you’ll wait FOREVER.
I can’t tell you how many awesome trips, races, and mountains I’ve missed out on because I was waiting to look down the road of life and see nothing but green lights (like that’s ever gonna happen).
A few years ago, I started asking myself a life-changing question: “How can I make Mt. Rainier finally happen?”
This led me to study training methods so that I could get better results in less time. And that has definitely expanded my sense of possibilities.
So much so that in 2017, I was able to finish high-altitude mountaineering school and climb in Washington, Bolivia, and Mexico (all in one year). And this was while working three jobs and completing a business accelerator.
So how do you train for mountaineering without quitting your job or neglecting your children?
The answer: you have to train REALLY SMART.
You have to do the right exercises for the right duration at the right intensity. And you have to get it right MOST of the time.
So how do you make sure you’re doing the right things?
A few suggestions:
- Check out the books on my Recommendations page. There are some excellent training manuals in the Books section, including Training for the New Alpinism, The Outdoor Athlete, and my very own Mt. Rainier Training Plan.
- Read my series on planning a Mount Rainier trip, which includes several mountaineering training posts. (They work great for other mountains too.)
- Download my FREE Mount Rainier kickstart workout plan, which includes 4-weeks of mountaineering workouts. (Again, these work for any mountaineering goal, not just Mt. Rainier.)
- While your emphasis should be on training smarter, freeing up a little time doesn’t hurt! You’ll find some time management tips and resources in my post, How to Make More Time for Fun.
#2. You’re out of shape and don’t know where to start.
Getting out of shape happens.
Maybe you took time off from training to rehab an injury or have kids or focus on other goals. Or maybe you’ve been working a desk job, and it’s showing in your body. Or maybe you’re just totally new to all this fitness and training crap.
When you’re starting from the beginning, getting into mountaineering shape can seem like an impossible goal. There’s so much that has to happen to get you to the summit! It can be really hard to know where to start.
A lot of people start thinking about it, get overwhelmed and do … nothing.
Others jump in too fast and end up overtrained, injured, or burned out.
If you are standing here now, I totally know how you feel. When I moved back to Colorado from Asia in 2010, I was overweight, taking really crappy care of my body, and didn’t really fit into the hiking scene anymore.
And while I’ve made a lot of progress, I’ve also had to rebuild after training breaks due to injuries, life events, and so on. It happens.
But the good news is, people can and do get (back) in hiking shape.
Even if you are really out of shape right now, you can become fit enough to hike the hikes you want to with the people that you love. In fact, it might not take as long as you think!
It’s not about being tough or superhuman. Of all the people who start a big fitness journey, the majority fizzle out within a year.
The trick is finding what works for you, building slowly, and sticking with it over the long term. It’s not sexy, but research shows it works.
Some tips to help you get started:
- Check out my blog post on cardio for beginners. I’ll walk you through a three-stage process to go from zero to the best shape of your life in 6–8 months.
- I also created an eight week Early Season Training Plan for beginners or mountaineers who are returning from a training vacation. It breaks down each strength and cardio workout, so you know exactly what to do when. Starting with just 3 hours of exercise a week, you’ll take your first steps toward improving your fitness and climbing your mountain.
- In order to succeed, you need to believe in yourself. Spend lots of time picturing what it will feel like to be fit and healthy. To get started, check out my blog post, How to Believe in Yourself When No One Else Will.
#1. You live where it’s flat.
Seriously, when people join the Facebook group, that is the #1 reason they give (over half of them say it).
Flatlander friends, I feel you. I trained for Kilimanjaro in Bangkok, which is below sea level. It involved a lot of hiking up the hot, dark, stinky stairs in my 17-story apartment building with a backpack.
The top few floors were under renovation, so there were no lights … and lots of bat poop. Yes, it’s amazing what we mountaineers do for our sport.
But it worked! I got to stand on top of Kilimanjaro. Which let me tell you, was worth a whole f*ck ton of bat poop. 💩
So I have serious empathy for the flat landers in mountaineering training. Because someone living in Aspen can go out and hike for 12 hours on a Saturday to train. But there is no reason you need to spend 12 hours on the Stair Master or hiking repeats of the same puny little hill.
Honestly, training for mountaineering at the lower elevations does take some willpower. But it shouldn’t completely do your head in. 😜
So I have created some great content just for you. Stuff to check out:
- Both my Mt. Rainier Training Plan and my Beginners Early Season Training Plan have special workout schedules just for all of you who are training on the plains, below sea level, and away from the mountains. I’ve broken your longer workouts up to help you get your training hours in without completely losing your cheese balls.
- I also share some of my best flatlander training tips in this blog post: How to Train for High Altitude Hiking When You Live at Sea Level (or Below).
So there you have ’em. The top three reasons people DON’T climb their mountains.
And if one applies to you, you have some tools for change!
Good luck chasing your dreams. And if you have any questions, definitely jump in my Facebook Group and ask away.
Originally published Sept. 29, 2018.