09/17/2012 Baton Down the Hatches


Baton down the Hatches


I’ve been stuck in what experts could only call Fat
Purgatory for the last three months.  An
injury, overtraining, poor eating, the consumption of large quantities of
alcohol, followed by late nights has caused me to veer off course a bit.  While I’ve maintained a weight between 228-236
lbs, I haven’t felt great, and at times have felt the fat guy inside of me
trying to get out like the hulk.

I know those non-fundamentalist will say that I’m just being
human, and that relative to most people I’ve been pretty good…I can’t help it
but I’m a fucking snob and I don’t want to be like most people.

I have a specific goal in mind, and as great as the last
three months have been, it’s time for me to refocus on my goals.  Those goals are to fit into a size 32 pant,
and climb Denali.

The first 30 days following the Tough Mudder was like a
mental recovery period, in which I threw in a trip to Mount Rainer (yeah I’m
fucking smart).  My time on Rainer taught
me a couple of things, first while CrossFit has made me an overall healthier
more fit person; by itself is not a great tool to become a good Alpinist or

My week on Rainer was great because I got a chance to do
something I really enjoy, yet it sucked because the entire time I thought to
myself I need to lose 15-20 more pounds, and do more endurance training.  After day three I almost wanted to go home,
train harder for the trip and come back and give it a shot when I felt better, this
desire to perform better is probably the reason why I put a deposit down for my
upcoming trip to Mexico, the
day we got down from Camp
Muir.  I figured, I felt shitty at 14,000 ft why not
see how shitty I can feel at 17,000 ft. 

A month from now I’ll be climbing two Volcanoes in Mexico one near Mexico City,
Iztaccíhuatl which peaks out just above
5000 meters (17,160 ft), and the other near Puebla, Pico de Orizaba which peaks out just
above 5500 meters (18,491 ft). 

I am looking forward to this trip, as I’ve been pushing myself
during CrossFit Endurance.  The thing I
hate the most, is proving to be one of the most valuable tools in my training. 

I started by increasing the distance that I run, meaning I’ve
gone from choosing the short course to the ultra course (Tes gives 3 levels of
work, the longer the course the more intervals you have to work) something that
I would have never thought I would do when I started CFE in the spring, and
recently I’ve started to run with a weight vest. 

On shorter interval days I’m using the vest every other
interval and trying to maintain the pace, while on longer interval days I’ve
done 1-2 of the final intervals with the vest. 
I started with 5 lbs of weight, and have increased the weight to 7 lbs,
eventually the week before I go to Mexico I’d like to be close to 20

Each time I run with the vest I try to push what I perceive as
my VO2 Max, I say perceived because I have no idea, my thought process is that
with each weighted interval I push myself as close to losing my breath as
possible without completely losing my shit at the end of the interval.  I only do that on the last interval, several
times when I’ve run the last one I’ve had to go into Patriot to breathe in the
cold air to help control my breathing.

It’s interesting that through this act of stupidity also
known as running, I’m learning to listen to my body, and feel for perceived
exertion levels, again it’s something that I never thought I’d be doing or
attempt to understand when I started CFE in the spring.  I’m hoping that I’m hearing and reading my
body correctly, as it will pay dividends when I start climbing.  The act of mountaineer is mostly mental, but
your body has to be physical prepared to handle the mental rigors.  People get fucked up, and die when they make
mental mistakes, often times because they push themselves too hard, or forget
that the summit is only the halfway point. 

CrossFit is still my base programming.  The strength training and metabolic conditioning
has become like breathing.  I can’t live
without it, my rest dies are almost agonizing, and I equate it to withdrawal,
especially if the Metcon is something I can excel at, or is something that is
challenging to me.

The one thing which has drastically changed for my CrossFit
workouts is that I’m only going 3-4 times a week.  My injury, and the pushing of my endurance training
gives me enough reason to push myself, yet monitor how hard I push myself to
the edge, at this point if I push myself over my trip to Mexico is done.

In the next few weeks, I’m going to change up my training a
bit, with a couple of two a days here and there, a CrossFit WoD in the morning,
and in the evening some type of LSD. 
Tonight I’m going to a spin class that’s supposed to simulate a real
bike ride.  The key in doing these second
workouts is to watch myself, and monitor my intensity.  I do these things not to increase my capacity
to work, but to train my mind to focus over longer periods of time. 

One of things about CrossFit is that there is a direct correlation
between the level of intensity and the quality of the workout, but this
intensity is usually sustained over shorter intervals of time.  The goal is to push yourself to the limits
for 5-10 minutes usually instead of grinding for 60 minutes.  This is a vast generalization but it’s the madness
behind the methodology.  

As I started to get into CrossFit I made a realization that
a lot of the times when I was doing cardio much of the time spent was filler,
because ultimately the best part of the workout was when I would reach the
final 5-10 minutes and push the shit out of myself. 

This motherfucker could rock the shit out of an ArcTrainer,
to the point I loosened up the bolts that hold the arms to the machine, or it
could have just been that I was really heavy, and I crushed the will of the

The upside to CrossFit is it’s effective, efficient, and
allows for faster recovery.  The downside
to CrossFit is, if you have chosen an endurance type sport as your “thing” you’ve
lost the hours of mental toughness that is built up over LSD.  I don’t care what you say; those skinny
bitches with guts that run 30 miles a week are tough, even though they look
like…(insert snide comment here). 

I am going to have to be mindful of how everything comes
together, making sure not to over train, and pinpoint my nutrition.  I’m trying to strict Paleo, but realize that
I have to incorporate certain foods because I have no idea as to what my meals
will be like in Mexico.  The last thing I need is a case of the shits
brought on the reintroduction of gluten in a foreign country.

Do you give you an idea of the progress I’ve been making in
the areas that I can still work during CrossFit, my one rep max squat in
November of last year was 275 lbs.  Two
weeks ago I did 275 lbs for 5 sets of 3. 
My goal is to have a rep max squat of 315 by the end of the year.

Mental purging done here…

For the next month I'm going alcohol free, controling my food intake to see if I can drop 10 lbs, and doing additional cardio at moderate intensity to embrace the suck that is LSD.

09/2012 Thanks Natasha for the photo!


  1. I still would like to see more SPORT SPECIFIC training, rather than just increasing your LSD. I don’t think running extra miles is going to prepare you to hike longer, higher distances, they just don’t seem to correlate. Too many people can run decent 10k’s, but can’t climb 5 flights of stairs without stopping to catch their breathe.
    I agree that you need additional work and that CrossFit alone will not prepare you for mountaineering. But I feel that doing actual MOUNTAINEERING, even in small capacities (like hiking through great falls with a weight vest) will better prepare you, than running longer distances on flat ground or sitting in a studio on a fixed bike while some loud mouth lady with a headset on yells at you.
    The mental toughness built over LSD may or may not be able to be replicated. I know personally, when I ran a marathon on ZERO LSD training, mentally it was tough knowing how much distance I had to run, but I was able to continually tell myself, this is much easier physically, than trying to do 21 unbroken thrusters. While it may not work for everyone, realizing that you’ve pushed yourself much harder and with much more intensity than you’re currently doing when partaking in LSD is sometimes enough to mentally get through something.

  2. Louis – for my endurance I pretty much strap on 40 lbs, get on a treadmill @ 30 degrees, or go up and down stairs at the neighbor hood school for hours on end.
    Think about that bitch of a hike to Muir. 45 minutes on, 15 minutes off. Spending all my gym time on Back/Core/Glutes/Shoulders, and then working via Treadmill/StairClimber/Eliptical for cardio endurance. The best training FOR something is to train as if you were doing it, emulate it as close as you can.
    Grab a heart monitor and keep it aerobic (don’t push too hard into anerobic), for me that is in the 135 – 140 range (resting HR is ~ 50 bpm).
    You may want to grab a book called Climbing:Training for Peak Performance. LOTS of good stuff in there relating to fitness for climbing and mountaineering.
    Also as for Denali let me know when you go, maybe I will join you. Have fun in Mexico with JJ/Dan. I have a trip in the planning for Mt Shasta in April/May 2013 timeframe, and maybe an indy trip up Rainier via DC route in mid to late July 2013.
    Either way keep up the good work, you are doing awesome.
    And remember Mountaineering is not an “easy” goal, it may be one of the most intense endurance sports out there. You need to earn it, you can’t just half ass it. If you half ass it there is a decent chance you won’t make it back.

  3. @Shady, I agree with you about getting out there and doing it more, but you and I both know time is always a factor. I don’t plan on running long distances, perhaps I’ll ride/spin often to supplement everything else.
    I actually took Satruday off, after a few weeks of trying to go 6 days straight of working out…I woke Saturday and felt like ass and decided a two day vacation is what I needed. It helped, a year ago I would have gotten up done CFE in the morning, and then a WoD in the afternoon just because I had the thought of taking a step back.
    @Chris, great idea on the incline, and pack. I love it when people point out the obvious. Did you do this with boots or shoes?
    I’ve found that CrossFit gives me the best bang for my buck in terms of general fitness, I just have to find the right tools to compliment the work, the types of tools which will make me feel better about things like the hike from Paradise to Muir.
    I felt good doing it, and was okay with it, I just remember thinking I’d feel better and more confident if I was in better Mountaineering shape.
    I’m thinking about doing Rainer next Summer, maybe a 3 day trip.

  4. Do it with boots if possible, mimic as best you can. I find time when I can, go out in the morning, or hit a night run up a local mountain. I actually leave my pack along with 10 lb weights and 3 x 1 Gallon water jugs in my car. Sometimes I will just go on a 3 mile hike around the office complex for lunch. It is easy to dump water too and cut weight if you are done, 1 gallon = 8 lbs.
    As for Rainier let me know. If you want to go indy we can combine forces, I have a plan that relies on RMI guides for judgement. Also if you want in on Shasta let me know, its a 14er as well.
    Chris Foley

  5. you may have inspired me to start CF but I think I draw the line with running with a weighted vest!
    I am starting again with the work travel and freaking out a bit about how I will hold up against all the food temptation on an expense account. Bought some new clothes that are form fitting and size 6/small (for reference, I was size 22!). I cleaned the closet and purged all the baggy clothes so if I backslide I have to spend money on bigger sizes…hoping that helps keep me from backsliding!

  6. You look really good in the pic. Endurance is a different animal, but the more you get out the more experience you get in those skills. CFE will prep you overall for the exertion. If you want to get in touch with some folks who go to WVA to climb a lot, just shoot me an email and I’ll link you with them. Simon

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