Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The Fitness

One of my challenges in transitioning to an active lifestyle from a period of relative laziness, is balancing the activities I love with the activities I need. I've gone through phases where I cycled for fitness, worked out at a traditional gym, dabbled in jogging. Most of these lacked the fun factor to keep me motivated (with the exception of cycling, another story). Lately, love of climbing, hiking and skiing has made motivation a non-issue. What has become an issue is finding a balance between those activities and other fitness pursuits that can improve my overall fitness and conditioning.

The great thing about climbing, is it so fun that you just ache to go to the gym on a regular basis. Any climber will tell you that time off leads to a mighty itch to go climbing, but regular gym climbers can measure that itch in a matter of hours. As someone who works full-time, with a long commute, gym nights are nearly the only way I can regularly maintain and improve my fitness for weekend activities. Climbing is invaluable for the desire it instills for physical improvement, and the mental improvement necessary to control the head-game.

Crack climbing at Spicer Terraces

Unfortunately, at 5'10" 220 lbs., climbing alone is not working well to trim the fat. Additionally, I feel that I'm coming to a place in my climbing where losing a few pounds could be really helpful on some of the harder climbs, especially roofs and overhangs. Amber and I have been working more and more cardio into our routine, but it's difficult to maintain, especially when, some days, you just want to climb.

So we've beet trying to rotate through 3-4 workout variations to mix it up. One is a relatively long, high-intensity cardio, sometimes with no climbing at all. Another is a medium-intensity cardio, followed by a low-to-medium-intensity climbing session. Sometimes we cardio just long enough to warm up before climbing and some days, when we want to be ambitious on the wall, we do no cardio at all.

Great Western Power Company

I read somewhere that you don't want your cardio exertion to cut into your climbing recovery, and vice versa. Ideally I'd have 3 days for cardio each week, 4 days for climbing... and a 5 day weekend. If only this were the case!! The other downside to the "work out every single day so you can shampoo gain strength and condition" is diet. Spending time at the gym in addition to work and commute often strips away the time needed to cook and eat a healthy dinner. Gym night meals are often a compromise and I need off days to eat healthy and help control my uptake.

So far our plan seems to be gaining some traction. I feel an improvement in my energy levels over previous routines, but am yet to see any weight loss. We do factor in weekend activities as well. I especially love cross-country skiing since I can keep my heart rate up and burn calories all day long while feeling joy, not the boredom of a chore. Hopefully I can translate some of this into new energy for hiking, and do some shorter but higher-intensity days in the hills around here.

Cross Country with Amber and Kenneth in Bear Valley

Sadly, the new cardio focus has cut into the time we used to spend doing strength training on the side, or various core/stability exercises. I guess for every thing there is a time and a season, and eventually we'll work it back in. I'm looking forward to reporting back as to whether or not I am able to produce any results from mixing more heart exercise in with my climbing. I'm also interested to hear how you find balance between your beloved activities, general fitness, and off-time!

Monday, March 9, 2009

swoosh swoosh swoosh WOOSH!

Greetings Blogworld!

Things have been crazy around here. We last wrote about our snowcamping experience on a beautiful but frigid moonlit night on the snowy white flanks of Mount Shasta. The storm that had blown through the week before kicked off a near-non-stop barrage of pacific storms that have more than tempted us to go and enjoy the deepening snowpack.

So we've been running around doing this and that, keeping the laundry and the food runs ahead of the calendar so we can bug out for long day trips and 'vedge' out the next. This month is a little smoother sailing. But there are still more snowdates to come, and despite this high looming over us right now, hopefully a few more storms.

So don't worry, there is a lot of things in the works. Some test footage from a new camera. Tales of triumph and tribulation. Nutritious, delicious snow, and more. We'll slap some cool posts together in the coming days and and over the next few weeks as our winter hopefully produces another good run before it gives way to spring and skiing gives way to more hiking and climbing...

For now, here's a shakycam xc skiing video tidbit: