Adventures in the mountains are much more enjoyable if you’re in decent shape. However, there is more involved to being mountain fit than just going to the gym, the basic regiment of fitness won’t quite get you there. Going to the gym can get you great abs, big biceps, and improve cardio, but gym fit doesn’t always equal mountain fit. To be a well-round mountain athlete, and be mountain fit a certain toughness is required. Fitness and toughness are two very characteristics.
In the outdoor adventure world, there are two types of fun. Type 1 fun is having fun in moment. When most people speak of “having fun” this is what they mean. Then there is type 2 fun, this type of fun is not fun while in the moment, this type of fun requires days, even weeks before you can look back on and call it fun. Nearly every mountain adventure involves some type 2 fun.
The wherewithal to enjoy the hardships associated with mountain adventure is only gained by being in the mountains. Enduring Type 2 fun will not be a result of going to the gym, awhile the gym helps being in the mountains for an extended mission, it won’t prepare you for the one of the most difficult aspects of mountain adventure, the suffering.
Most of us cannot spend as much time in the mountains as we like and training in the gym is the best option to maintain fitness. By training specifically for the mountains you will enjoy you next outing so much more:
Prepare for amount of time – distance is irrelevant to train for unless it mimics the exact elevation gain and type of terrain. If you are planning on a 10-hour day, you need to be in shape for a 10-hour day.
Push cardio past comfort zone – The routine of the gym is just that, a routine. We settle into a program that we can get through without too much discomfort and mindlessly bang out a workout. Everyone is capable of much more than they think they are. Pushing you limits in the gym will add tremendous reserves to the tank when in the mountains.
When you can, train in the Mountains – The basic suffering that can result from human powered mountain travel can be mitigated by training in the mountains. Walking uphill and elevation are the most common issues that can cause great suffering if you are not prepared.
Embrace the suffering – Those moments when you are in the bowels the type 2 fun; you’re worked beyond belief, your feet tore up, neck is sunburned, every step is choir and there are miles to go – in a couple of weeks those are going to be some of the best memories of your life. Train for the pain cave.