Sunday, December 22, 2013

Week 28 Update: Sore back but I get to climb next week!

Week 28 Update: Dec 22, 2013

First week back and it did not start well. I managed to tweak my back (tweak - no doubt - is a technical term) and had to skip my runs and most of my lifting this week. Oh well. I also started hypoxic training at 12,000 feet and that helped me reduce the stress load on my body. Here are a few other updates:

  • I reflected back on my recovery week and decided that a full week off from everything probably was not good for me. During the week, I felt less limber and even less rested. I intend to skip the full week of rest right before heading off to Nepal.
  • My full workout schedule is complete for the remainder of my training. Every Sunday I intend to complete 50% of my scheduled time and split the remaining 50% across the 5 remaining days. That approach gives me one day per week to train my brain for long days. I am writing this post on Sunday after a 7.5 hour day. It was fun watching pro football and struggling to catch my breath. Yep, fun. Tomorrow, I have more fun in store for myself because I take off for Portland to visit family and do some climbing. My training takes a back seat to climbing days. I want to get in a few hours before heading out to make use of my hypoxic training routine for as long as possible.
  • Speaking of hypoxic training, I noticed a huge difference in my normoxia (sea-level) training after training at 12,000 feet. It feels great to breath real air when pushing myself. Hopefully the hypoxic training will feel as easy as normoxia training soon; for now, my workout intensity is roughly half of what it is at sea-level.

Workout Progress

The profile below will be the usual profile from this point forward. Sundays are long followed by pretty uniform workloads the rest of the week. Last week, there were a few anomalies. We did not have swim practice due to a meet so I swam on Monday instead. I also cut out my lifting and running later in the week to allow my back to heal. It is still stiff but I'm on the mend. Nothing worse than a sore back!

plot of chunk WeekEx

The figure below is starting to look like a mess. After the new year, I will replace it with a figure that relates my recovery to my workload. In the meantime, I am checking out the peaks to see how my day's 7-hour session ranks up with my previous workout days. Only one day beats today and that was my 8-hour climbing day in August. After this trip, I will have many more 10-hour days to include. Stay tuned for a more informative figure.

plot of chunk DailyWL

I have two climbing trips planned for the Northwest so I will probably catch up with the hours - not that catching up matters at all to me. The figure below shows how close I am getting to being fully prepared or at least prepared according to my plan. This first week of hypoxic training was very interesting. I have more comments below.

plot of chunk CumWL

Weekly Summary

Dealing with my sore back was not fun. Swimming felt great but few other things seemed to help. My swimming pal Brad Gandee recently injured his back and he was out for almost 6 weeks. When I initially injured my back, I thought about Brad and it was amazing how quickly I started to catastrophize the situation. Prior to climbing Denali, I had a similar setback. Roughly 2 months before my departure to Alaska, my cousins and I had our yearly “cousins trip” to Seattle. We were rough-housing and my one cousin threw me into a glass table. Before you jump to any conclusions, Kevin (yeah, I'm calling him out) did not mean to throw me. He is a strong guy and I weigh 150 lbs. The glass table I fell into weighed more than I did! Well, I really hurt my back and I thought….great! My climb is done. I healed in no time and felt nothing from the injury after about a month. So, I found myself thinking of Brad and my cousin Kevin after I injured my back. The worst part of the whole thing was that it was my own fault. I was in a rush to get my lifting session done (on Tuesday) and so I hurried through my last lift without paying much attention to my form. One thing led to another and I felt that unmistakeable back pain sensation. The first few days after lifting, I had a tough time getting into and out of the bed, the car, the chair, the shower - let alone trying to get clothes on. Now, I feel so good I can put on my shorts without wincing in pain.


Despite my initial catastrophizing, I managed to right the ship and pay attention to solving my back problem. I am still sore and my soreness seems to linger longer than my pessimism - go figure. If I could only sleep through the night, I might be motivated to workout and work.

plot of chunk Mood

Hypoxic Training

I started increasing the hypoxia levels in the tent - raising the levels by 1000 foot equivalents each day. On Wednesday night, I increased the altitude to 10,000 feet from 9,000 feet. The next day, I felt pretty good. My spO2 remained high (low to mid 90%). The following days, I increased the levels up to 12,000 feet and a funny thing happened. I woke up this morning fully recovered for the first time in a few days. Those morning restwise values really got me motivated to train today.

plot of chunk Hypoxia

Recovery (Restwise Data)

I started gaining weight! Yeah!!!! All the hypoxia and workouts really decreased my appetite. Food just doesn't sound terribly appealing. Well, I finally got back over 170 lbs. for the first time in months. Also, my resting heart rate usually hovers around the mid-40's but the increased workloads throughout October really affected my morning resting heart rate. The figure below might be a little difficult to discern because I included all the restwise data but you will see that the restwise score (RWscore) shows some variability. The rest week did wonders for those indicators and my score (ranging from 0 to 100) finally got up to the upper 80's to lower 90's. Before that time, I had scores in the lower 70's and the program always warned me that “[I] was showing signs of reduced recovery.” Those signs are from my sp02 levels dipping below 90% on some mornings along with losing weight and having a higher resting HR. I happy to report that I am fully recovered today. Tomorrow might be a different story….

plot of chunk RestwiseData

Updates for the week

I am a bit pressed for time right now but I do intend to send out a mid-week update while traveling. During that update, I will thank several of you for your kind words and continued support. Have a great holiday everyone. Hope to see you soon….