I'm feeling a little at sea
I'm in great shape when I'm at my gym, but I don't do well on Mt. Shasta.
I was in spin class and doing really well and I was actually kinda depressed about it.
For my own sanity I think this means I need to change gym routines. Maybe switch over to kickboxing and mixed martial art exercises and Body Jam.
I've had a day to ponder more.
I think I see what's different in doing actual climbing vs. gym stairclimbers and bike training.
On the gym machines or on a bike, if you get tired and pause, your weight passively applied to the stair or pedal will help carry you through. This is not so when you are climbing. Your muscle is what has to lift the weight of you up. I think I've gotten to used to relying on the mechanical assistance without fully realizing it. This is why I can bike up all sorts of things but actually climbing them is another story.
What sad about that is that the gym stairclimbers can only help me just so far. At this point I have to go back to just working on my leg muscle strength and endurance. things like doing step ups, or climbing actual stairs, and doing a lot of traditional squats and leg presses.
Or maybe I'll just take a break and do kickboxing.
Yeesh, why does it take me so long to figure these things out?
When you train, do you train with a pack? I find that I can do a very brisk 7-mile/2-hr/800-foot hike with it being just a little stretch for me but not much of one. But add a 10-pound pack and it becomes a real challenge. I think it affects your balance and therefore how you use the muscles, too, so it's different than walking or exercising unencumbered. Plus the weight alone, of course, makes a big difference--and more of a difference as we get older. (Not me getting older, you understand, as I'm still as young as I ever was.)
And I think you're also right about altitude having an effect: My dad, the mountain climber in his youth, can't even drive up to, say, Tuolumne any more without getting sick. The body changes gradually.
But your insight about mechanical assistance seems on target as well. So many things to account for, so little time.
Yes, near the time of the Shasta trip I was training with a 30-40 pound pack both on the trail and on the stairclimber.
I should add those were trails near sealevel. I have a life (that I very much like) and it's at sealevel. :)
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