Rob's Blog Archive

June 9, 2013

Summertime Training










I did my first real climbs over Memorial Day weekend of 1973.  Aside from stealing my wallet---there is the potential for a good blog on that---Independence Peak didn’t give me much problem.  University Peak, at 13,632’, was another story.  There was never a doubt that I’d make the summit, but I sure wasn’t in any shape to enjoy it.  A few weeks later, I started running.  Since then, excepting times when I’ve been injured, running has been a part of my training.

One of the great things about going to Caltech is I had the opportunity to take up a sport at a varsity level.  The one sport I had shown a clear talent for was wrestling and I enjoyed it as well.  Beyond that, the fact that I was only 5’7” meant that I’d be better off in a sport, like wrestling, that had weight classes.  I showed up for the first practice mid-October of my frosh year, and every year thereafter.  With hard work and talent, I eventually became a competent small college wrestler. 

Two things happened my first year on the wrestling team that would affect what I did from then on.  First, I dropped weight from about 158 lb to 148 lb.  During the next three years of college I kept my weight below 150 lb. 

The second was that it took me almost a month after my first wrestling season before I could get to sleep without taking aspirin.  I figured my injuries were because I wasn’t in near as good shape at the start of that first year as I should have been.  I wanted to make sure that never happened again.  With that, not only did I run during the summers, I ran hard.  The summer after my freshman year was when I first started knocking off repeat seven minute miles. 

Climbing University Peak and my first year of wrestling, more than any other experiences, affected my attitude about physical conditioning for my dogs and me.  Athletic competition involving stamina includes pain---that’s part of it.  However, a good conditioning program minimizes this.  Moreover, it is at the core of injury prevention---most injuries occur when an athlete is tired.  This holds for dogs and people. 

Summer training for a winter sport like wrestling or mushing, more than anything else, epitomizes this attitude.  That’s why I am always among the first mushers to start training my dogs.  I hate getting up before sunrise, but I do it. 

So now, with my goal of skijoring the Iditarod Trail next year, I am again exercising hard during the summer for something I plan to do during the winter.  I’m running roads once or twice ---preferably twice---a week.  I’m also doing a couple of extended mountain bike rides.  Riding a bike lets me exercise a lot without a lot of wear and tear.   Finally, I’m doing two or three Taekwon-Do workouts each week as well.

Historically, one of my favorite workouts has been a combination of jogging and Taekwon-Do.  I’d jog about a mile out, go through all of my Taekwon-Do patterns, then jog back.  I first did this in Chautauqua Park in Boulder, Col.  Later, Manresa Beach near Santa Cruz was a favorite spot.  Once, while jogging back to my car from the spot at which I had done my patterns, I remember hearing a clicking sound coming from the ocean.  I looked toward it and saw an otter on its back cracking open a sea-urchin.  The other thing I learned during the year and a half between summiting University Peak and starting my second wrestling season was just how much I enjoyed working out.  

Right now, my weight is down and I am running comfortably.  I haven’t done a jog-patterns-jog workout yet, but I have picked out some great spots in lodgepole forest for my patterns.  Summer and I are both shaping up nicely. 

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