Steve Whittington is sharing his training experience with us as he prepares for a big challenge: climbing Mount Everest in March. Make sure to check out the other blog posts in this series.
My experience at high altitude has taught me that in order to be successful, I need to focus on being healthy and taking care of my body while up there. It may seem obvious to do this, but my hardest climbs have been when I did not pay attention to my body properly. This is harder than you may think, as a long expedition grinds you down and you lose focus and discipline.
To give myself the best chance at staying healthy, I am focusing my training and diet for three results:
1) Increase Endurance
2) Increase my V02 max or maximal oxygen uptake (this is the body’s ability to transport and use oxygen when exercising, an important thing when you’re in thin air)
3) Put on muscle so my body has fuel to cannibalize at altitude
You may be thinking, “Huh? Put on muscle to cannibalize? What is that all about?” Well, my body is lean right now from a hard season of technical alpine climbing so I could use a pound or two. But more importantly, you lose your appetite at altitude and your body needs fuel while you are up there. Muscle is the best source.
The plan is in place and has already started. My goal is to train around 14 hours a week leading up to my departure in March There will be long distance cardio/endurance training, high intensity cardio for VO2 max and power training for building muscle. Plus, the whole time I am going to incorporate skills training for technical rock and ice. This will be a challenge as I have a full time job, which is a demanding commitment itself and I travel a fair bit for work. “Nobody said it was going to be easy...and nobody was right.” –George Bush Senior