Monday, June 17, 2013

Week 1 Update: June 17th, 2013

Week 1 Update: Jun 17, 2013

I am going to post a weekly update in graphical format showing my preparation progress prior to climbing Mt. Everest (departure date: 4/15/2014). The following figures and summary provide me - mostly - with an evaluation of my preparation and where I might be over-training or where I am accommodating the stress well.

Workout Progress

I started my blog 3 weeks into my Stable phase. Everything seems to be progressing smoothly. I fell short on a few things (½ short on the swim and 15 minutes short on the elliptical) but I put in a bit more on the bike to offset most of the deficits. Overall, I worked out 13:40 last week instead of my expected 14 hours. Below is a graphical summary of my weekly total training load (expressed in hours):

plot of chunk Program

Weekly Summary

I discovered something this week that might prove useful. For some reason, I have my best workouts after a huge grind the day before. My worst workout day by far was Saturday - the day after my easiest workout day. I felt flat and totally disinterested in working out. Swim practice was a wash. Our team is preparing for a major long course swim meet in Richmond so the workout was a fast-paced taper set with a 100m freestyle set on short rest. I just could not get myself going so I decided to swim at a reasonable heart rate and get out early enough to watch my son swim at his meet. There is a minor detail I neglected to mention. Before swimming, I worked out for almost 1.5 hours already. I went on a great run with my wife Kathy; the run was like old times when we used to train together. It was worth the lousy swim practice just to hang out with her for the run. The swim…total crap…but I did it and then went sailing. Yes, I sailed for 5 hours on my Laser after running and swimming. I was so beat by the end of the day that I flipped my boat and laid in the water relaxing in the 74 degree Severn river for about 10 minutes. Now, here is the weird thing. The next day (Sunday) I felt great! I went to bed on Saturday at about 8:30pm and woke up at 7:30am, went to swim practice Sunday morning and had a great workout. So why the heck would I feel so great after a long, arduous day on Saturday? I don't know but I plan to test it out over the next few months. Any edge I can gain on summit day helps.

Updates for the week

Big hurdles this week. I finally got my passport materials submitted so I can travel abroad. These beuracratic details tend to weigh me down. Also, my friend Dave Roskelley - a guy I met while climbing Denali - just sent me some great retrospective tips on climbing Everest. He just returned from his summit of Everest with the same group I plan to climb with in April 2014. Here are a few things he mentioned in his notes:

  1. Fitness is key. I hope to have that covered over the next few months.
  2. Previous big events prepare you well for this big event. I completed an Ironman, ran my share of marathons, sailed for days on end - often with no breeze, skied in the backcountry countless times, froze my ass off, sweated 'til I nearly passed out, swam endless workouts, and climbed many peaks including Denali. These probably prepare me somewhat but, like most big events, nothing really prepares you like over-preparation.
  3. Bring your own oxygen mask. Apparently Summit Climb has the older and leaky Russian masks and he (and others) recommend more modern masks.
  4. Bring a cannula to sleep with rather than a mask - much more comfortable. I will start searching for the cannula and the mask sometime this week just so I can figure out costs.
  5. Have a strong conviction to make it to the top. My colleague Todd Kashdan and I have written extensively and studied the idea of purpose in life. I get this one more than any of the previous ones. Without a strong conviction to get there, up, down, and home in one piece, I have little hope of success on any of those legs. I will tell you more about my conviction in a later post.

So there you have it. Only 44 weeks away and I already have a shopping list. Damn. Nobody said it would be easy or inexpensive. Next week, I have a detailed list of medications I plan to bring on the climb.


  1. Yes, the purpose part is key. But obviously your purpose has to have a prioritized list (like your safety before your success, but your success before your comfort). And you have to be in touch with it. For sure, the sort of stamina and purpose needed for this seems ways more significant than, say, earning a PhD.

    1. Good point Rebecca; I completely agree. There is a saying in mountaineering that the summit is your home (or the car - depending upon the extent of your journey). Going to the summit is only half-way and the descent is where the most climbers get into trouble. Motivation to summit serves people well at times but at some critical moments, too much motivation can be fatal. I intend to cover this in greater detail in an upcoming weekly update. Thanks for the reminder.

      Oh, and I completely agree with your point about earning a PhD. Doctoral programs are grinds that tax us mentally and appear designed to highlight our flaws. Mountaineering offers us the same challenge but adds a huge physical component - combining exercise, altitude (low O2) and caloric drain - that all conflict with the cognitive aspects of a climb. Being motivated helps us overcome these problems when self-doubt creeps into our heads.

      Thanks for the comment.

  2. Not sure if any of this stuff would be useful for your climb, but I'm planning on buying stuff from this site for my eventual travel plans...

    even if you don't find anything useful for the eventual trip, it's still some pretty sweet deals & cool stuff.

    1. Austin, I am always on the lookout for climbing equipment. I will check it out even though I have most of my equipment. My tendency is to be a bottom feeder. I buy closeouts and used equipment (not safety equipment) all the time. Thanks for the tip.