First off, let me tell you that I am not an elite athlete. I am a regular person who works hard to accomplish what I do. I do not have the luxury of being able to train all day with a personal trainer like most professional athletes. I need to fit my training into my lifestyle which can be a challenge at the best of times.
Obviously to climb in Antarctica or to climb Everest you need to be in great shape. The better shape you are in the greater your chance of success and safety.But fitness also increases your enjoyment. It’s hard to enjoy any experience if you are constantly winded and struggling for each step. I want to be able to enjoy the environment I am in and to have the energy I need to make the most of the experience.
Physical fitness is a baseline requirement for participation in mountaineering but, once that has been met, I believe that mental and emotional fitness are next on the list. Our minds are extremely powerful tools and they can work with us or against us. Our attitude can help us soar or it can break us. I have seen it countless times in the mountains, on training runs, and even with my children in sports, homework, and piano.
I find goal setting to be the best way to stay focused on fitness. Without a clear goal I find my time is easily filled with other things. At the start of August, just after I returned from Kilimanjaro, I had minor knee surgery. I knew that exercise would be important for my recovery. I also knew that I have a big hill to climb in November so I need to build up my strength and endurance. Running was not an option for 6 weeks so I figured cycling would be a good way to go. I registered for a 50 mile road race in Collingwood on September 18. This ride would climb the Niagara Escarpment three times. My time was slow and the ride was tough, but it kept me focused and gave me a goal. I have registered for another 50 mile ride in Niagara in October and am going out for a run today to test my knee.
The key steps in motivation are: 1) Have a Vision, 2) Develop an Action Plan, 3) Do it with a friend, 4) Reflect on progress. More on this next time …