Giraud preparations: Physical training

I almost died in 2006. I had a climbing accident from near the summit of Giraud Peak, plummeting 30 feet through the air, and rolling another 300 feet down... to a whole new life.

I was lucky to wake up again, after losing consciousness from the fall. I was helicoptered away with relatively meager injuries: 2 broken wrists, a broken skull, the left side of my face ripped off, and scratches and bruises all over my body.

Spurred by my close-to-death experience, I decided to live life to the fullest. To me, that meant travel. I’ve been traveling now, for most of the past eight years. I started off this journey unsure of what I was doing. Now, I understand that I was (and still am) seeking answers: who am I? Why am I here? What is my place in this world?

Questions lead to answers, which just lead to more questions. I feel blessed to Quest, and am returning to Giraud again this August... but this time, to safely summit. It’s time to wrap up this circle, and continue onto the next chapter of my life.

I just committed to this journey a few days ago, and am further committing to a physical training regime, to prepare. Mind, body, heart, and spirit are all interconnected. Nature and physicality are my favorite ways to connect with the Divine. Besides preparing my body for returning to Giraud, the physical training thus also engages my entire being.

My physical training is primarily inspired and informed by my friend and teacher, Josh. My other teacher, Lisa, suggested that I share my journey on my blog, as it may be interesting for many, and helpful for people considering starting physical training for mountaineering.

My starting point:
I have strong legs, but a weak core. My upper body strength has not been restored yet, after 2 wrist surgeries. I can climb up mountains and walk all day easily, but run out of breath quickly when I run.

My goals:
I want to increase my lung capacity, to hike with ease at high altitude. I want to increase general body strength, balance, and grace. I want to restore strength and flexibility to my wrists, and strengthen my core muscles.

My daily regimen:
I’m jogging for 10 minutes every morning (pre- breakfast) and night (pre- dinner). I’m sprinting until I can no longer keep up my breath, then jogging at a steady pace for the whole 10 minutes, with my breath at the place where it’s not quite comfortable, but manageable. I am pushing myself. After the run, I practice sun salutations then longer stretches, to cool down and lengthen out. My post-run yoga routine lasts anywhere from 10-60 minutes, depending on the day. I’d like to equalize it to about 20-30 minutes of a solid asana routine, for efficiency.

Sometime during the day, I’m doing 10 minutes of posting (basically a meditative held squat, from chi-gong fundamentals) and at least 30 calf-raises (whenever I am just standing around, I go up and down on my toes, or practice standing with one leg lifted, for more subtle balance exercises). I try to integrate these exercises into my life, such as squatting or doing calf-raises while brushing my teeth

I still need to figure out how to add lunges with weights and box jumps into my daily schedule.

At night, I practice just 3 yoga asanas right before sleep: I hold plank position (dandasana) sometimes with variations, do boat position (navasana) crunches, hold bridge position (setu bandasana) with variations, then crawl off to sleep.

My weekly regimen:
I’m hiking a larger mountain (day hike) once a week. I’m also doing 10 minutes of interval sprints once a week, where I go as far and fast as I can go, rest for 1-2 minutes, then do it again.

I might also start fasting once a week, for a little spring cleanse, and to prepare my body for 4 days of fasting, come August.

Tonight, after I described the current state of my upper body strength and physical training goals, my dad asked, “So you are working to make your wrists normal?” I replied, “No. I want to make my wrists better than normal. I want my body to be better than normal. My wrists will be stronger than ever before. My body, too.” That is my intention with this training, in preparation to summit a mountain that I fell from, which has sculpted a lot of my life, and who I am ready to renew my relationship with, in a new, respectful, and powerful way.