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Whitney training for older folks
#45792 04/16/16 07:17 AM
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mmauer Offline OP
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I'd appreciate any thoughts on how training for Whitney should change as you get older.

I'm early 60's now. For decades it's been clear to me that with the same amount of effort, my results decrease. So for running, with what used to be the effort I exerted to run an 8 minute mile pace now gets me a 12 minute mile pace. And with what feels like the same amount of effort, my Whitney times keep getting longer.

I understand the inevitability of declining performance as you age, but wonder how my training should adapt to deal with this. Less aerobics and more strength training? Some high intensity workouts each week?

Re: Whitney training for older folks
mmauer #45793 04/16/16 08:10 AM
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I’m 67 and slowing down too. I day hiked Williamson last year, but it took several hours longer than when I was 60. I’ve always favored climbing as the way to train for climbing. I do what I’ve always done, but I do a little less and do it slower.

Re: Whitney training for older folks
mmauer #45794 04/16/16 09:31 AM
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I'm really alarmed at how my workout times are increasing, too. Times for a specific distance are at least 25% longer than in my good years.

But I'm in the "keep doing what you've been doing" crowd.

Experience helps, hike smarter, get lighter gear, and keep on hiking!

Re: Whitney training for older folks
Steve C #45797 04/16/16 10:00 PM
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When I did the JMT a couple of years ago, at 63, I was a little discouraged at first that my months of training did not pay off better right away. After struggling for four of the first five days, something clicked, and suddenly I was kicking it as I had hoped to from the start. Over the next few days I realized that what I was suffering from was not a lack of physical training, at least not in the sense of hiking harder or faster or even higher than I had in the weeks prior, but that I had imposed other changes suddenly that I did not work up to as I had the physical exertion: diet, sleeping arrangements, hydration come to mind.

Lessons learned: if your usual morning routine consists of throwing off a couple of goose feather pillows and sliding out of your good old familiar bed around 830 and padding downstairs to 3 big cups of fresh dark roast caffe au lait for breakfast, then getting right to work on your email, don't expect that waking up at LYV at first light and creaking up off your self-deflating BA Thinset and having one cup of really shitty coffee and half a pound of oatmeal and raisins with honey is suddenly going to be the start of a really good day involving a climb of 4000 feet.


If your usual lunch is a tomato and ham sandwich with sparkling water or a smoothie, don't expect your body to switch right over to handfuls of gorp every 20 minutes, tortillas with ghee at 1100 am or in fact anything at all. If you have been eating really healthy - a bed of baby greens, sliced tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, avocado, minced garlic and balsamic vinagrette with a seared 3 oz salmon filet for a typical summer dinner, do not expect dehydrated beef stroganoff on egg noodles with mashed sweet potato compot to be irresistible after that last 8-hour, 3,000 foot, 90 F. slog up to Sunrise camp.

You gotta sneak up on this, work up to it, and there are only two possible strategies. One is to carry that bed you have been sleeping in for a hundred years on the trail and the other is to start sleeping on your BA Self Deflatable on the floor for a few days to a few weeks before your first night on the trail.

The latter is more realistic.

Take a canteen and a bag of trail mix to work, and practice sipping and munching constantly through those mid morning meetings. Get up at first light for at least a week before your trip. Eat exactly the same breakfast you will eat on the trail. I dare ya. Go to bed with the sun. If you have to read a little, try out that headlamp.

You will have plenty of surprises on the trail. Most of them should be of the 'will you look at that sunset!" variety. Try to minimize the "Damn, why didn't I try this pack WITH the hernia belt?" sort.


Wherever you go, there you are.
SPOTMe!
Re: Whitney training for older folks
Steve C #45810 04/18/16 04:12 AM
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Slowing down is just going to happen for most people as you age. I didn't start hiking till I was in my early forties, and for years I was focused on times, splits, recording a personal best. That began to change by the time I was 55, in no small part due to advice I received from Bob Pickering. Our first hike together, when I was 53 I believe, he told me several times that I needed to slow down and keep a pace that I could maintain for hours. That was anathema to me at the time, but several other hikes with him over successive years began to finally beat it into my thick head.

Bob's constant advice and the natural effects of aging finally convinced me that I didn't need to train fast for Whitney each year. I was simply not going to be moving as fast as I did in years past when I visited the Sierra, so why train that way? I'm approaching 60 now (dammit), and have a barking hip to boot. I've changed my training regimen to an uphill pace that could best be described as slow and steady, although 5 years ago I would have called it a snail's pace, and added miles. In short, given my acceptance that I'm not getting any younger, and that I'm only going to slow down more in the years ahead, I've altered my training to meet that reality. Instead of speed, I focus on mileage (and gain, of course), but at a very deliberate pace. Muscle memory and training routine won't be subconsciously pushing me to a faster pace than I can reasonably maintain above 11K' in the Sierra.

I'm a big believer that the best training for hiking and climbing is hiking and climbing. I hike every single week (44 consecutive weeks now as part of a 52 week challenge). I keep my winter hikes to maintain a basic fitness level, then begin to increase the demands in the spring to the point that I can put in a 22-mile, 6300 vf day before heading west in July. This past week I hiked 13 miles and 3100 vf on my regular Saturday morning workout, so I'm where I need to be at this point. A few years ago, I would likely be at 6 miles and 2000 vf by this point, but congratulating myself on how fast I was moving, and telling myself I would stretch it out the next week or so. Ultimately the fatigue effect from concentrating on speed would usually prevent me from ever getting that big 22-mile 6300 vf training day I needed in reality to climb Whitney, or another Cali fourteener.

There are still times when I feel a bit underwhelmed at my "new" pacing, and I have to consciously discipline myself to accept the reality of my age and diminishing capabilities. When that happens, I sometimes think of Bob Rockwell's story of how, in his 60s, he beat a group of young marathoners to the summit of Whitney by careful pacing and craftiness. That always brings a smile to my face and a fist-pump for the Old Guys.



Re: Whitney training for older folks
saltydog #45814 04/18/16 07:22 PM
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Originally Posted By: saltydog
Go to bed with the sun.

Amen.

By 4 am, or really late with 5am predawn purple light (in summer), you cannot wait to get out of the tent and get going. Speaking JMT here, not specifically Whitney.

Agree with the others - All the gym and PT stuff helps some, but... When I had my total knee in 2011, at some point I told the PT guy I was done with his good advice, and was just gonna push the walking. I turned the corner. Since then I have taken my slow pace to Baldy, Whitney 3 more times, Orizaba, even the Himalaya. The important thing is that you are there.


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