Monday, March 31, 2014

Training for Anidesha Chuli

I was sitting in the famous Num-Ti-Jah Lodge by Bow Lake at my friends wedding. Halfway to being drunk, I was not feeling like dancing but rather picking the brain of an extremely knowledgeable Mountain Guide and now friend, Mark Klassen. I was pressing him for advice on how to train for climbing at altitude, and I'll never forget his response: "Ha, train for altitude? Go out on Banff Ave, get seriously drunk, wake up two hours later, put a hessian sack over your head and try and run up Sulphur Mountain." Marks point was that no one knows how you will perform at altitude, everyone is different and there is no real way of knowing how you will do until you're there. The other point I took away from his comment was that regardless of your physical condition, altitude will always dictate progress and health. Obviously being super fit will help but it won't make you immune to coping with less oxygen.

* Climbing steep ice in Canada.
My training over the last six months in preparation for our expedition to Anidesha Chuli has been quite varied. During my last remaining months in Canada I was trying to spend as much time in mountains as possible. Enduring time in the cold, carrying a heavy pack, climbing steep ice and mixed routes. I also dedicated a lot of time to the gym, often spending hours cycling, running, weight lifting and swimming laps. My training Mantra has been "Lungs, Legs & Core". Since being back in Australia my training has obviously shifted a little - no ice to climb here. I've maintained the same mantra but switched my pursuits a little. I'm lucky enough to live 5 minutes walk to a nature reserve - Mt Ainslie. My house sits 233 metres below its mighty summit of 843m so I have been running small peaks and linking trails to create anywhere between 10 - 20km hill running circuits. I've also been training pack fitness, as that is the most relevent fitness I will require. This involves filling a big Backpack full of 25litres of water and walking up Mt Ainslie or other local hills. Road riding has also been a fun way to build a strong base of fitness while also maintaining great muscular endurance for the legs.

*Pack fitness training on Mt Ainslie, Canberra
The only golden rule I have had while training for Nepal was: 'Listen to your Body'. I have been way more paranoid about overtraining and injuring myself than going on this expedition not quite as fit as I would have imagined. I set goals and push myself but if I feel an old niggling injury starting to creep back in I stop, stretch and rest. In having said all of this, I have been unlucky enough to develop some bad lower back pain. After physio I think we have concluded it is due to a number of things, imbalance in muscle groups in my back, very tight IT bands, poor sleep and stress. I walked out of Physio today, two weeks before departure with a long list of physio exercises to correct niggling knee and back pain. I'm still training but have lessened the intensity and have stopped running. Uphill pack fitness, yoga and body-weight exercises will have to suffice.
                                                       * Training on the back deck at home.

I'm really excited at the prospect of experiencing altitude and to see how I perform. Knock on wood all goes well but perhaps after a few days of sitting around with headaches, coughing, waking up from periodic breathing and having no appetite I will think back to writing this and kick myself...time will soon tell.

Six days until departure, excited, nervous, happy, anxious, positive - an invigorating and refreshing whirlwind of emotions is slowly enveloping me and its intensity is only going to increase over the following two weeks.

I'll post again before I leave with more details on the trip and a rough itinerary of our movements while there.

Thanks for the encouragement and for following along!

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