Things Are Looking Up: Taking Intervals Into the Mountain Zone

When a windfall time bloc opened up my Saturday morning, I was on the road for the mountains by 6AM. Snow fog and freezing drizzle cut visibility in the foothills and I nearly turned around. In another ten minutes, the clouds started breaking. It was a blue sky day above 10,000 feet, although it was below freezing with some winds, so I layered up.

You may have hills where you live. You may have only one hill where you live. Your only hill might even be your driveway. Or maybe a setting on a treadmill. It’s no matter. In my mind, any incline you can go up may be classified as your mountain zone. Bleachers, stairs, stadiums and grass hillocks can work well too. We can be resourceful.

Today I ran intervals on slight inclines, levels and downhills, and hiked the steeper, rockier or trickier terrain. There was more hiking than running, but like a good training entree, we season subtly. We don’t dump the whole canister of salt in the training soup that makes up our very interesting training lives.

Today I was able to interval hike-run 6 miles, gaining about 1500 feet, carrying a light 20 pound pack. I took 2 Gu Energy packs, 1 Tuna package, a hydration system with a few liters, and planned my time frame according to my supplies. It was a great time. I saw two quiet Ptarmigans, bubbling brooks, soaring cliffs and spires, and massifs all around.

When I am on flat land, I see mountains in the clouds, or depth and height in the skies. Inspirational perspectives are everywhere to be found.

SAFETY: Consider that training in high mountain elevations and backcountry carries with it serious risks and dangers to those who are prepared much less those who are underprepared or unknowledgeable. Get a check up with your doctor clearing you for exertion at altitude, and get training for movement in the mountains. Go out with certified mountain guides. If you can’t afford that, go with more experienced hikers and / or mountaineers. Meanwhile, most mountain clubs recommend “Mountaineering: The Freedom of the Hills” as a classic introduction to mountaineering. See my Good Reads link.

Be extra observant, know where you are, where you’re going, tell a few people your planned route, sign trailhead registers, even tell rangers in the district you’re hiking in. START EARLY and PLAN AHEAD. Dress in layers of wicking fabrics, not cotton, or else sweat will build up in your clothes and freeze if you get into some cold weather. You’ll need extra water, enough appropriate food, a first aid kit and means of communication.

After all of that, I’m sure you’re happy with your driveway, treadmill or stairs. For me, it’s worth the tedious preparation, and that becomes more routine also. Hills and mountains are a great resource. I hope your weekend has been so good you can’t put it to words.

an underrated experience

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