The other night I was reading a book by the Ultra-Mountaineer Ed Viesturs, "No Shortcuts to the Top" and the chapter I was reading brought back memories of 2007 when my friend Bob McAllaster was helping me with my Badwater training. Bob was concentrating on "functional training"-in essence, simulating motions and movements that would help strengthen my "achilles-back", which was my weak point. Interesting enough, these motions and movements, at least on the surface, did not appear to be "running related". However, looking back, I wish I had started working with Bob at least a year or two earlier. Actually, I wish I had started that training with Bob at least 10 years before.
In Ed's case, he was planning on doing a "twofer", mountain climb, starting with a warm-up of climbing Mt. Everest, which he had climbed several times before and culminating by summiting his nemesis Annapurna, which would complete his quest to summit all 14 8,000 meter peaks without supplemental oxygen. While Ed was working on his fitness regimen at the gym, he was approached by Ubbe Liljeblad, a personal trainer, who transformed Ed's workout with functional training, combined with weight resistance, to simulate what Ed would be performing in the mountains. One example, is repeatedly stepping onto and then down from a bench carrying two forty-pound dumbells. Another, was to balance on one leg while squatting up and down, then doing curls with weights. Doing squats, bench presses, lunges, and holding fifty-pound iron plates by his fingertips until they burned were some other examples. Ubbe made Ed do an enormous amount of core work as well. During some of the sessions, Ubbe had him stand in balance on a large rubber ball and do squats.
At the end of an hour of one of Ubbe's merciless sessions, Ed said that he was reduced to a quivering lump of flesh and bone. To top everything off, Ubbe would have Ed work out on the stair-climbing machine for another hour, carrying an eighty-pound pack. The reasoning behind this was that Ed needed to be doing things in training that would be harder than he would ever encounter in the mountains. I'm a firm believer in that theory, although I do understand the difficulty in actually accomplishing it. Nice theory...tough to do ! Ed said later, "I was in the best shape of my life."
Have a great week ! Aloha ! Don