I get asked, “What are you doing for training?” for the Aconcagua climb. I don’t think I am doing a lot compared to some of my ‘ultra’ friends. I mean, I would like to use work, family, kids and life balance as an excuse, but there are no excuses when I see the training schedules of others. Either wake up earlier and train or train at night… and that is what I have been doing!
Josie and I have been alternating weekend days for training. Saturday morning, she gets up early and does her training. Meanwhile, I take the kids to their Saturday activities (gymnastics and skating). On Sunday, it is my turn. I wake up early and go do my training. During the week, Josie gets up early and swims a couple of times in the morning. I have done the opposite and swim at night, after my kids go to bed. We fit running in here and there.
Types Of Training
I want to keep the training as functional as possible for the mountain that we are about to climb. For example, we are climbing a mountain, so let’s climb mountains for training. We need to go certain distances, so let’s train to those distances and more. There won’t be as much oxygen at the altitude that we are climbing at, so let’s try to mimic that. I think we have done all three. We have incorporated:
- running – Making sure we can go the distance!
- hiking – We have been using a local mountain that is close and steep, Prairie Mountain. It offers 700 meters of vertical gain and 7km round trip. Sometimes we would do this twice to get double the elevation and distance. Other times, we would put on the big backpack to mimic ‘hiking with a pack.”
- swimming – I am not a natural-born swimmer, so this type of exercise is very anaerobic for me. I have not seen any studies indicating this works, but my hypothesis is I am training my body to do work with limited amounts of oxygen. I can’t always take a breath when my body demands oxygen. At altitude it is the same. Many times it feels like you are not getting enough oxygen.
Frequency and Intensity
My frequency of training was 3 to 4 times per week. I would say the intensity was moderate to high. At almost every workout, I would be left breathless at least once to multiple times. Whether it was sprints in the pool or running up the mountain, I wanted to feel oxygen deprived… and I did!
My goal for training is to take out the fitness variable out of the hiking equation. I do not want my to feel sore or have to adapt physically to the climb. My goal is to go from camp to camp and have it feel like a walk and not hurt. The reason for this is, there are 2 other variables, which we will be focused on.
- Acclimatizing – Here, our bodies will adapt to the altitude. It will begin to produce more red blood cells for carrying oxygen. Also, body functions shut down or change as you go higher on the mountain. You begin to lose appetite. Others may experience diarrhea or constipation. We may even have to deal with headaches! Sleeping can also be a problem.
- Weather – Weather obviously can affect us physically with frostbite. Or, it can leave us dehydrated from being dry and windy on the mountain.
These 2 variables will be our biggest concern. How are we adapting to the altitude, are we physiologically capable of getting to the summit? When will mother nature give us a window to summit, if we even get a window?
Running, swimming and hiking!
Other training that I haven’t mentioned here is using the gear:
- Practicing putting up and taking down the tent.
- Practicing starting the stoves (we don’t camp much).
- Cooking with the pots and pans we will be using on the mountain. Do we use the big pot or little pot? We want to familiarize ourselves with our cooking gear.
- Packing and unpacking the backpack. Where does all the gear go? How much gear do we have?
- Pooping in a bag?? No, we haven’t practiced that, however, apparently, there is a fecal matter bag that they expect you to use and hike out.
Questions? Comments? Please leave them below! I would love to hear what you are thinking. Have I missed something?