The Training Begins

So as I write this I am actually on a treadmill. Strange but true! I’m obviously not running, but walking at 3.5mph, which is apparently the recommended training walking pace that I read somewhere or other for Himalayan training. For yes, indeed, the training for Island Peak starts today!

I have been dithering and procrastinating (yes, me!) for a little while as to how and when to commence this. Part of me said that I can wait a while, especially as I am currently cycling around 100 miles a week (on the good weeks that is :)), but then training for altitude walks is altogether different, and the last thing I want is to get half way up Island Peak in October and think that I really wish I had pushed myself harder. I know that I have to walk up a 55 to 60 degree ice wall to get to the summit ridge on Island Peak, and that will be when the legs are screaming, and with so little oxygen at 21,000 feet or so, that’s when I want to know that my legs don’t let me down.

And then I looked at a few suggested training programmes online. They are all different to varying degrees, but not one of them suggests that you should start training less than six months before you go. I then looked at the calendar – just over four months to go – wow, got to get a move on, and now!

So my training programme will at a high level be to almost forget about the cycling and to concentrate on the gym. This is a shame in a way, as with the summer months upon us (even if the current weather is horrible – wet and 25mph winds, temp 13c/52f) I’d much rather be out on my bike than in a hot gym. And I hate treadmills, they bore me beyond belief.

So having looked at some good sites (including Alan Arnette’s, which I love more every day), I have settled on starting with a mix of the following:

Bench step ups
Sit ups
Lunges
Pull ups – (in my dreams!)
Superman push ups
Back extensions
Treadmill – boo!
And a few weights, bent rows and the like.

The idea is to get a combination of aerobic work, leg strength, and core. The core is crucial, lower back and core take a pounding and especially as for the last few days before the summit we will be carrying all of our own equipment. I have decided to try to do the pull ups, even though I am utterly hopeless at them. My legs are pretty strong at the moment but my upper body is very weak, so I need to improve things for sure.

And so at the end of a good and long gym session (I’m back now, knackered), I feel great. I also know that I have a long long way to go, and am so glad to have started today – it will get me more focussed and determined to achieve my targets. The gym was deserted too, which is nice.

Nice to have the place almost to myself at weekends

I managed just three pull ups, which is embarrassing I know, but I write it here to hopefully remind myself of how hopeless I was when I look back in a few months time. Maybe I will get worse of course :o. The rest of the exercise was fine, and I did about half an hour on the treadmill, probably a record for me! I also did about 50 sit ups, the plank, and even went for a swim afterwards.

I then thought I would test my fitness out after I had done everything, and did the ‘Cooper Test’ on a stationary bike. This is a test to check your VO2 max. When I did Kili, at the point that I started training I was at about 28, which I think was “average for my age”. When the bulk of my training was completed, I had increased my VO2 max to 45, which I was delighted with, as it put me apparently into the 95th percentile ‘for my age’ (there’s that phrase again). Well today I totally exceeded all my expectations, and here is a picture of the result:

My best result so far.......

So if I told you that I was now delighted with a score of 56 it would be the understatement of the decade.

I just need to get me into a routine now where I keep it up, and get my core strength up, a lot. The climbing course in Switzerland in three weeks time will be very telling too to let me know where I am at. I can’t wait for that to come around – mountains and glaciers in June – why have I never done that before? Bring it on……

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