The Anti-Training Movement

4 Mar

IMG_1647

Recently, I was asked a question that I hadn’t thought about in a long time. It seems strange that as someone who spends as much time in the mountains as I do I hadn’t really thought about it before:

How do you train?

Truth is, I don’t. So how can I call myself athletic if I’m not at the gym pumping weights, on a jumprope, using complicated machines, paying a monthly fee, or grunting for life with every breath? Because after a year of big climbs, intense hikes, and spending every moment that I can on the trail, I’ve come to realize that there’s no such thing as training. You’re either climbing or you’re hiking, spending a part of the day outside, or you’re not. When I think of the word “activity” the root of the word is right there: “active” and for me, that’s all I really need.

For a climber, I have a slim body. I don’t feel like I was ever given the physiology that ensures I’d be given a muscular form, and as much as I’ve tried to work on that over the years, lifting, and grunting, and high protein diets just have never worked for me. Yet, on a hike, or on the wall, when I’m stretching out for the next hold, or I’m counting the steps towards the next bend in the trail, none of it matters. I’ve come to realize that you can’t prepare to be outside, you just have to be there.

IMG_1868

Does this mean that I’m not putting any preparation into my work at all? Absolutely not. In 2012 when I was getting ready to go to Rainier, I wanted to concentrate on dynamic and ever-changing work outs, not just repetitively lifting a weight or pushing a machine. For arm strength I was climbing at the gym obsessively while for endurance, I ran trails, rode a bike through the Everglades, or ran the boardwalk on Miami Beach (I still like to say I was the only one in my group who trained for the mountain without climbing an actual mountain). When I got to Seattle last year, yes, I did start my first six months in a gym which did actually give me some sort of base to work off of. However the more that we were walking in the hills or pushing through pitches, that whole dynamic seemed to change, and I realized that I was always stronger than I actually believed myself to be.

This past winter, I joined the Seattle Bouldering Project, not as a means to gain strength or endurance, but simply to work and hone the technique that I’d be using for the rest of the season. Once it was clear that the weather was improving and we’d be getting outside soon, I cancelled my membership so that I could concentrate more on the other aspects of my life, namely writing, and be outdoors as much as possible.

Recently I’ve started trail running. What I find so liberating is the road is uneven, the trails are mostly empty, and the view is always spectacular. What I’ve come to learn is that even getting outside for a few moments, whether it’s hiking with a friend after work, or running a trail just before lunch, has as much “training potential” as spending an hour in the gym.

So in essence, I consider myself an athlete because I constantly engage in the type of activities which push my strength and endurance to its absolute limit. Despite this, I don’t believe in a “training” philosophy for spending time outside. There’s no such thing as preparing for the mountains, it’s just important to be out in the middle of it.

About these ads

10 Responses to “The Anti-Training Movement”

  1. Chocolate Covered Race Medals March 4, 2014 at 2:21 pm #

    You sound JUST like my husband. It’s inspiring!

    • Off The Map March 4, 2014 at 2:22 pm #

      Thank you! Can you tell me a little bit more about it?

      • Chocolate Covered Race Medals March 4, 2014 at 2:23 pm #

        My husband is meant to be outdoors. LOVES mountain bike rides, hiking (snow or sun), skiing. You can see it in him he just feels more alive when he’s active outdoors, it really is inspiring.

      • Off The Map March 4, 2014 at 2:26 pm #

        Exactly. The time I spend outside, even for a few minutes is equal to twice the time that I could spend in a gym. Thank you for the thoughts!

  2. landonfaulkner March 4, 2014 at 5:35 pm #

    Great post man, I couldn’t agree more! Trail running and kettlebell workouts are about all I do now days besides just getting outside. I used to lift weights and all that jazz (got pretty stacked too), but it didn’t really help with climbing. I once heard that the best way to train to carry heavy packs up steep mountains is to carry heavy packs up steep mountains.

    • Off The Map March 4, 2014 at 5:39 pm #

      Thanks! I’m absolutely loving trail running lately and spending as much time as I can playing in the mountains. A few months ago someone asked Sean Leary how he trained and dieted for all his big ascents. He laughed and asked for another beer. Definitely agree. The only way to train for mountains is to be in the mountains.

  3. Rev March 5, 2014 at 7:10 am #

    Take a look behind you on that first photo. That’s the best looking gym in the world.

  4. Juliana L. Brandt (@julianalbrandt) March 14, 2014 at 1:04 pm #

    Awesome post. I think it’s so true that we have to train for functional strength, rather than focusing on lifting weights at the gym. Nothing can quite replicate being out on the trails.

    • Off The Map March 16, 2014 at 11:36 pm #

      Thank you Juliana! Yeah the more time I spend actually doing something, the better I feel about it. I like to keep things dynamic and different.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 138 other followers

%d bloggers like this: