The Männer and I returned from the Karkonosze National Park in Poland during my 19th week of training. This week in the base training part of New Alpinism is for rest and recovery.

Still riding high from our trip to the Polish mountains, I didnt want to take a break. I took two days off while the Männer were in town. I then went back to the gym.

The recovery and killer core exercizes made me feel great. Like a stallion, I was raring to go. I packed my backpack with 25 kg of weight and left early for the Devil on Sunday.

The temperature was warmer than I expected. As I took off a long sleve undershirt, I noticed the old man and his dog, who I met on most of my previous outings. We crossed each other’s path and stopped to talk. I asked his name and told him mine. My conversation with Herr Kunkle was pleasent. After we parted, I imagined sending him a postcard from Rainier so he could better understand which mountain I want to climb.

My hips started aching after two more laps. I figured the pain was from overuse the previous weekend. A smiling Japanese tourist at the top of the slope approached me and asked me about the former military installation. He wanted to know how he could best enter the grounds. I welcomed the break.

By my fourth lap, I was really hurting. I took a pitstop. While refeuling and rehydrating, I noticed that the contents of my pack had shifted. The weights were pressing on the hip belt causing an inballanced load. I tried to readjust the load without any success. I continued my hike and, after two more laps, a very polite couple stopped to ask me questions like, “Why the heavy pack?” and “Why don’t I use trekking poles?” My knees and back were thankfull for the restful interruption.

When we eventually parted ways, something the wife said got me thinking about London. I was heading there the next day on a business trip. In my mind, I imagined how I could walk in the city to meet my Zone 1 level of activity targets for the upcoming week. I could walk past the bookstores on Charing Cross Road towards the British Museum and over to the office near Russell Square. Little did my plan, which included having scones and tea for breakfast, have anything to do with reality. After I got stuck behind a high school class from Houston in the immigration line, I didn’t have time for a leisurely walk. I had to rush to the office to attend meetings.

Walking to the British Library

Walking to the British Library

In London, I did my best to maintain an active lifestyle. I walked everywhere I could. I even managed to make it to the British Library, one of my favorite places in the city, before meeting dear friends outside of London for dinner. A longer than expected walk to the resturant in Barnes where we met was an additional trainng benefit, but I forgot to turn on my GPS so I could get an accurate measurement of the time or distance.

My big city pace caugt up to me when I got back home. I hit the gym on my return and, afterwards, I hit the sack.

Traveling is training’s worse enemy. Airports and airplanes are a welcome breeding ground for viruses, travel breaks healthy routines and eating habits, and foreign places expose our bodies to different microbes. I almost cursed my trip to London while lying sick in bed. I realized that over-training might have been a factor too. I wasnt really resting and recovering. I was pushing ahead with my base training.

With two weeks to go before me trip to Seattle, I was trying to maintain my level of fitness instead of tapering off. To be honest, I didn’t know any better. I could only compare my experience with a trip to the US in October. I came back with a cold and a virus infection after that trip which knocked me off my base training plan by a week. This time, I decided not to take any risks. I didn’t want to be sick in Seattle, so I interrupted my training program. I figured it would be better to rest and take it easy. Crammng would only lead to fatuge and over-use; good pacing would be better. Like the turtle who eventually won the race, I had quite some distance left to go. I figured being healthy and prepared would be the most important way to get there.


1 reply
  1. Lee Holt says:

    Recognizing fatigue is a tricky thing, especially when you’re in the throes of preparing for a big climb. Sorry to hear that you caught a cold in London. Rest up, and remember – training makes you weak, recovery makes you strong. Take it easy in the run-up to Rainier, and by the time you get on the mountain, you’ll be rested and ready.


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