The Training Corner

Mountain Grit: Training for the Long Haul

Q: I am not a gym, group exercise or tights fan, but I need some coaching. Any advice for me?

I’ve raised my family, have an on-line business with a very flexible schedule, am very involved in my Church, and have a small group of XC skiing, hiking, golf and fishing friends. I garden all summer, too, and am very capable of maintaining my property, despite losing my husband several years ago. I am a physically active woman, ‘living life’, with hopes to continue on this path. I’m not getting any younger, and for the first time this past summer, my knees were creaking when crouching in the garden. That was a wake-up call. By all medical reports, I’m within the norms in all the usual parameters. Fine, but I want to be able to move better, and age in place. I could lose about 10 pounds, but I know what I need to do there. Jane, 61

A: Jane, I like your SPIRIT bucket, your mindset of taking charge of your health. You have reasons to get up in the morning, and are connected through work, church and outdoor pursuits. Remember there are 6 more buckets in reclaiming and fortifying your Movement Pillar for the long haul. The Simple [not easy] 7 S Buckets are: Spirit, Suppleness+Stability, Gait Speed, Strength+Power, Skills [agility, balance, coordination++], Stamina and Specificity. Each bucket needs to be full, the robustness of each determined by the activities you choose to keep doing. “We get what we train for; we keep what we do!”

Your perception of the fitness industry is not uncommon. I have been countering the ‘fat loss and looks’ image for decades. It is changing for the better, and most movement professionals are focused on extending health-spans and movement longevity. Some of the healthiest, strongest, fittest people I have met, have never set foot in a gym. They physically worked hard and played hard for decades.

Today, screens, tech, convenience and comfort have dominated our lifestyle, to the decimation of manual labor and movement. “Alexa, turn off the lights!” So we need to plug that hole with training that transfers, to prep and prehab for our long haul.

Here are a few practical suggestions:

1. YOU control your schedule. Dedicate TWO 30:00 minute movement blocks per day, 5 days/week. Schedule the first one sometime BEFORE noon; the second one BEFORE dark. Be consistent according to the seasons. The morning session is dedicated to essential body work, along with strength, power and fall-fighting elements. The afternoon session is a BRISK outdoor walk, unless you’ve hiked, skied or walked the golf course that day.

The guts of the session, filling all 7 buckets, would be designed by a coach-trainer who understands the aging thing. You sound tech-savvy, so online coaching may fill the bill.

If a friend or health-care professional makes a recommendation, check it out. This could be the best investment you ever make in bending your aging curve. Get an assessment, and customized training to get you started. This does not mean months of sessions, or a huge financial outlay. I have coached clients in a variety of scenarios over the years. Consistency is the cornerstone. Nail down the basics, hit some baselines, and train to keep them. Monthly online or in-person updates work great.

3. Small group training is very effective and more fun. It’s less expensive, too. Find a coach who could train your ski-hikegolf group. A gym, outdoor venue or Zoom call are options.

4. Wander into a local facility, when COVID is beat back. You may be surprised! The tight-parade is not the norm. As a matter of fact, most people in their 40s+ care more about their GO, and less about their show. Yes, how people feel about their appearance matters, but most folks are striving for more energy, better health and a body that works well for their mountain lifestyle.

What to wear? What YOU are comfortable moving in, something lightweight and breathable.

Jane, the future is hybrid training, a combo of home and live sessions. Regardless of the arrangement, consistency is vital. Keep the basics, hit some baselines, then strive for new and different benchmarks based on the season. Do not stop. Neglect is not an option.

“60 is the time to wind UP, not slow down. Ramp up your ride, and TRAIN to deny your slide.”

Not sure what you need? Contact a local coach-trainer or Pat through or See previous editions of Mountain Grit for more training tips from Pat.

Need some coaching? Contact Pat through See previous editions of Mountain Grit for more training tips from Pat.

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