Mountain Grit: Training for the Long Haul

The Simple 7 - Bucket #6: Specificity: Me and My Buckets

The Simple 7 Buckets That Build My Buffer: Suppleness-Stability, Speed (Gait), Skills, Strength, Stamina, Specificity, Spirit

“We get what we train for, we keep what we do!”

Let’s reflect on the purpose of this column, to tweak our mindset towards prepping and pre-habbing our seasoned vehicle for the long haul, to invest in (the earlier the better) and earn our health-span now, in order to nudge it up tight to our lifespan. 35 years is biologically mature, with on average, 50-60 years left to go for it.

GRIT, the tenacity to persevere and to pursue our passions, is not based on intelligence and natural talent, but on the ability to show up and stick with it. Yes, to suck it up, and forge ahead.

My BUFFER is that space, that barrier between succumbing to the effects of aging per se, and pro-actively resisting and retaliating. It’s also the cushion between the GO in my chosen activities, and the BLOW, injury.

Bolstering our movement buckets expands our buffer, allowing us to live, labor, work, care-give, play and compete for decades to come … in the environments of our choice … with competence, capacity and confidence … adding purpose, resilience and robustness to our well-being.

As we refill and restore Buckets #1-5, let’s shift our focus to Bucket #6.

Bucket #6 is SPECIFICITY…. Demand determines supply.

The body and brain will provide and adapt to the type and intensity of the demands asked of it, unless the supply has been compromised. No demand, no supply. Low demand, minimal supply. Excessive demand, injury. The sweet spot of a slightly higher demand, bingo! A better supply-chain is GAINS!

• Run faster, to run faster, not longer.

• Ball and stick sport athletes practice under pressure, at game speeds and in unpredictable settings.

• Rutters train uphill, downhill, in roots, ruts, gravel, dirt, and on the steep.

• Double-blacks DH skiers own the greens, blues and blacks first.

• Olympic Lifters -lift to lift heavy; they don’t lift for looks.

• Whatever my sport, I need to prepare my vehicle to withstand the stress and strain of my sport, AND further adapt and expand my buffer system through smart training.

No doubt about it, “we adapt to what we do, or don’t do!” If I practice or train slow, I am slow.

On the other extreme, if I NEVER ….

• get down on the ground, I will not be able to get down and up from the ground.

• carry heavy stuff, I will not be able to carry heavy stuff.

• rotate, then my golf swing is compromised, I’m gonna hurt.

• read and react quickly, I am slow on the draw.

• push out of my comfort zone, I will slide backwards.

With added years, we may rust out or wear out. Regardless, DAILY buffer maintenance is non-negotiable.

See the 10 previous Mountain Grit columns including Bucket self-tests, at

Bucket #6: Specificity: Me and My Buckets

Why should I care?

• The fix is in, inside each of us.

• I can redirect my aging journey NOW, and CAN have stamina, energy, vitality, vim and vigor for decades to come; I CAN dodge and delay frailty, lethargy, fatigue and lifestyle-related chronic diseases, and revamp my ‘seasoned spirit’.

• People quit doing what they love to do, primarily because of joint-muscle-soft tissue reasons and loss of movement confidence, not disease.

• Form follows function:

o Bone gets strong where we stress it; runners have dense leg and hip bones, but not spine and upper body bones.

o Bones shift where muscles and soft tissue pull them. Text-neck and slumpedslouched postures!

o If I never go there, I won’t be able to go there. Movement freedom declines.

o The brain calls ONLY on the muscles [motor units] it needs to get the job done. A small, easy task, requires a minimal crew. Easy and slow is the recipe for WEAK with no GO!

o The brain calls up the crew in order from small to large, slow to fast. The untapped go dormant. Atrophy and power loss!

o What fires together, wires, together. What syncs, links! Practice to keep and improve for sure, but new and different in just the right dose, fertilizes the brain, neuroplasticity. Learning defies boredom!

My Specificity Check-Up I will NOT self-inflict pain or injury just to prove I can do it.

YES [1 point]: I do it automatically with ease NO: I just can’t or I am fearful to even try


1. Bend, reach, rotate, crouch, turn and twist on demand.

2. Get down on the floor, crawl, roll over and back; get back up no problem.

3. Walk really fast with spring in my step, jog, run or sprint if I had to.

4. Maneuver confidently on slopes, bumps, roots, ruts, loose and firm surfaces.

5. Read and react to random hits, pulls, obstacles and sudden terrain and weather changes with quick and effective movements.

6. Lift, carry, push and pull heavy stuff; open jars and jugs on demand.

7. Climb stairs with ease, AND walk fast for at least 15:00.

8. Do everything that I NEED to do at home, at work and within my care-giver realm, whether it’s people, pets or livestock.

BONUS: Do ALL the things that I LIKE to do year-round with confidence and competence.

Scoring for Bucket 6:

GREEN: 8+ holding your own, and denying the slide.

YELLOW: 4-7 have started to slide, reverse course now.

RED: 0-3 it’s never too late to start the restoration journey; EASE back in.

Got gaps? Holes? Start by filling the tiniest gaps, which eventually add up to patched holes. Suppleness and walking are great places to start. Gradually layer UP from there.

How resilient, durable and robust do my buckets need to be? It depends on what I want to be able to DO, how well, and for how long in my life. Til I can’t?

Am I prepped and pre-habbed for my game of life? The higher the risks, the faster the speeds, the more unpredictable the environment, and the higher the skill demand, the more robust, durable and resilient my vehicle needs to be. Would I take my road bike on the rugged mountain trail? NO! If I want to GO-GO-GO and NOT BLOW, my buffer needs to match my game, and my training needs to amplify my buffer.

Let’s refer to the ski trail system of bunny slope to double-blacks. Assuming my ski skill set matches the trail, am I robust enough to resist fatigue? Is my buffer resilient enough to bounce back from falls, collisions or Mr. Murphy?

Common Sense Solutions:

Fill all 5 buckets. NO, there is NOT one activity that fills them all.

Continue doing those things that make you ‘tick’ ….. TRAIN so you CAN!”

Movement is as vital to health and well-being as food and water; movement sabbaticals are out, unless you are ‘dog-tired’ from physical labor, illness or injury. Choose to MOVE.

DAILY, WALK a lot and often. SIT less. Accumulate 6-10K steps per day [approx. 2K steps/mile]. Include 30:00 of continuous BRISK walking. Walk tall with spring in your step. Walk the dog twice a day. Add a stroll after dinner. Take stairs and slopes every day.

At HOME, do chores and tasks involving multiple positions, speeds and loads. Do the inconvenient and uncomfortable sometimes. Go barefoot at home, to keep the feet smart.

At WORK, break away from the chair and screen every 30 minutes; reach up, bend and rotate.

Physical labor can give us a huge bang. The trades, shoveling snow, chopping and stacking wood, or raking stone and gravel all get the heart pumping, the whole body moving, and the brain firing and re-wiring.

At PLAY, its’ all seasons, GO! Choose something that you enjoy, AND that keeps you moving. Mountain bike, hike, skate-XC ski, snowshoe, DANCE!

TRAIN to fill gaps and holes. If I have ‘0’ physical labor, hobbies, interests, sports or activities, TRAINING may be the only means to counter the ill-effects of screens, prolonged sitting, techpostures and a lifestyle of convenience, comfort and cushiness.

Training, with all of its health benefits, MUST transfer to moving, feeling and performing better in all aspects of life. If I am beating the crap out of myself, detracting from the rest of my day, week or game of life, it’s time for a reboot.

If training IS my passion and my sport, my enjoyment and fulfillment, great!

The public health exercise recommendations are minimums. They are designed to NOT die early, to NOT fall, to NOT get frail, and to deter lifestyle diseases. Want more? Then DAILY and targeted in the right doses is superior.

So …

1. All the buckets matter, the robustness of each is dependent upon what you want to be able to DO. Fill each one for your game of life.

2. Move to stay supple; bend, stretch, reach, rotate, crouch, lunge, squat and ‘hang from a bar’ daily; try tai chi or yoga.

3. Work on the baby bucket and ground game for trunk stability and basic movement ownership; keep the crawl; try Pilates, yoga or martial arts.

4. Work to stay strong and powerful, a minimum of twice per week; own the squat, hinge, carry, push and pull motions with load; any form of resistance works.

5. Do things that challenge your agility, balance, coordination, power, reaction and speed; get out and PLAY.

6. Suck some wind and sweat at least 3X per week.

7. Stymied or overwhelmed on where to start, seek out a movement professional that can safely and strategically get you on your way.

See for Pat’s class on Thursday at 0930 or contact her through for personal coaching.

In closing, ponder this: “Start-to-end programs will fail; a lifespan mindset will prevail.”

Next up on GRIT: Bucket #7: Spirit

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