Mountain Grit: Training for the Long Haul


Welcome to Mountain Grit, the first in a series of articles designed to tweak your mindset towards preparing your aging vehicle to live, labor, work, care-give, play and compete for decades to come; to invest in and earn your health-span now, in order to nudge it up as close as possible to your lifespan.

So let’s talk ‘grit’, the ability to persist after setbacks, as related to re-wiring, re- imagining and re-writing Stage III of life. Grit is not based on intelligence and natural talent, but on the ability to show up and stick with it despite the curveballs of life, which eventually hit us all.

Training for the long haul is a lifestyle, a mindset and commitment towards fortifying the pillars of resilience and durability, movement being one of five. Programs, like diets, with a beginning and an end will fail. Systems built on a lifespan philosophy will prevail. And with 30 additional years of lifespan on average, 60 is the time to wind up, not wind down. So, for my first article, I will address a very common question:

Training ... How Much? For Who?

The answer is .... “It depends on what YOU want to be able to DO!

How well, how often and for how long you want to be able to do it!”

Let me start off by clarifying the terms exercise and training. Exercise is ‘purposeful’ and has parameters and guidelines, and I commend the scientists who have dedicated years to ‘tease out’ evidence for those minimum doses that delay dying, dodge disability and reduce fall risk. For many active agers, meeting the regular exercise and physical activity minimums works perfectly in order for them to achieve and maintain health and well-being.

But for you mountain lifestyle folks out here, ‘training’ and preparation take on a whole new meaning, one of a lifelong approach to aging well, full of vitality, energy and enthusiasm, in a ‘vehicle’ restored and maintained to ‘get out and get after it’, a vehicle able to withstand father- time, AND to live, labor, work, care- give, play and even compete for decades to come.

Training for ‘mountain living’ IS the Athletic Performance Model. It is designed to ‘beef-up’ the Active Ager’s buffer in order to perform with confidence and competence, and to reduce the likelihood and severity of injury in environments and activities that are unpredictable and have inherent risks.

“I train athletes to enhance the durability and resilience of their body, mind and spirit to better meet the challenges of their sport."

“I train active agers to ..........challenges of life, labor, work, care-giving and leisure-time pursuits, for decades to come.”

Same model, same buckets. Buckets? Think posture,gait, pliability [suppleness], stamina, strength, speed, power, agility, balance, coordination, and reaction, the essentials of a complete strength and conditioning system, that allow us to move freely in our environments of choice, where collisions, slips, trips, stumbles and falls are likely, and the abilities to ‘react and right’, load and explode are just part of our outdoor pursuits.

In coaching, I strive for a full [acceptable] level of resilience and durability in each bucket, NOT overflowing in one area, or empty in another.

Among adults, differences lie in the size and robustness of each bucket, based on where and how they need and want to live their life. This is unique to the individual, and how they decide to influence the pace at which they age, especially since only 30% of aging is genetically predetermined.

In closing, the physical demands of the mountain lifestyle, rife with unpredictable and inherent risks, demands a bigger reserve and more robust buffer, on top of the minimums to delay dying, dodge disability, and resist falls.

In closing, ponder this: “I will adapt to what I do, or what I don’t do!’

Next Up ... more details on buckets and benchmarks.

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Cori Koenig, editor:
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