Year: 2013

Training Log: Torreys Peak via Kelso Ridge – 17 August 2013

I’ve been wanting to do this one for a couple years now but haven’t quite gotten around to it. This past week I’d done a couple more extreme trail runs. I did a 17.5 mile up Keystone Gulch to the Colorado Trail to the Aquaduct Trail for Breckenridge and back. I was lost.

I also did a double on Mount Royal overlooking Frisco Colorado. I was pretty wasted so I was looking for something that my friend, climbing partner, and Team Seven Summits Quest mate Todd Gilles and I could do together that was also extreme, but would allow us to go a bit slower than we have been in our training for Elbrus Race 2013.

Todd Gilles rock climbing on Kelso Ridge
Todd Gilles rock climbing on Kelso Ridge

We met in Keystone at about 6:50 and drove together in my higher clearance vehicle to the Grays Peak Trailhead up Stevens Gulch. The Grizzly Gulch Fork parking was completely overparked and as we went up the road through the private land area we ran into a long line of bumper to bumper cars parked along the side. We stopped to ask and no one knew for sure if there were spaces up at the trailhead. I decided to risk it, thinking there would be parking along the road to the mining area where I’d camped several years before.

Sure enough, there was parking for us and we took off up the trail. It was pretty obvious that many of these hundreds of people don’t get out much. They weren’t at all experienced with faster “hikers” on the same trail. We made it to the fork to Kelso Ridge in pretty good time in spite of that. We took off up the ridge and for the most part it was loose gravel and dirt with a few steep gullies of third class rock, with maybe one or two fifth class moves. I think if you were cautious you could find a way to make it easier.

We didn’t really push for speed and stayed behind a few people that we used as routefinders for a while until they stopped for lunch. Then we came to the Knife-edge. This was classic. It’s a steep point about 50′ long along the ridge top. The slabs drop a few hundred feet both directions and most people I have heard slide along on their crotch. Some more brave people just walk on it. I was not brave that day. Todd was a bit faster than me. I think his Merrel minimum trail runners had better stick than my Salomon XA-Pro. They felt like they were sliding off every little foothold.

Happy to be on top. Todd Gilles and Charles Miske after climbing Kelso Ridge on Torreys
Happy to be on top. Todd Gilles and Charles Miske after climbing Kelso Ridge on Torreys

The last bit was a scree slog sometimes on hands and knees. At the top we hung out and ate and drank and did pics and videos. On the way down we saw hundreds of people along the trail. Most coming up quite late, but some going down. We got behind some really slow people, even for the slow pace we were going at, so at a switchback with a fork I managed to run around everyone and we started booking it down the trail.

We passed everyone. Not a single other person, even those dressed as trail runners, passed us. I think it took only a little over an hour to descend back to the car. I know I had a lot of fun sliding and jumping and even falling once to avoid running into a dog in the middle of the trail that didn’t notice me approaching.

Torreys via Kelso Ridge – Strava Stats

Torreys via Kelso Ridge 17 AUG 2013 on Strava - overview
Torreys via Kelso Ridge 17 AUG 2013 on Strava – overview

When I uploaded my stats Strava associated our stats together, Todd’s and mine. Oddly we were 20 minutes apart though we hit the summit within a minute of each other. I think it was because whoever created the segment pinned the summit in a different spot. I just sat down at the cairn and Todd wandered around, so likely he passed through the pinned segment end before I did. In any case here are the Strava stats [CLICK HERE]

Torreys via Kelso Ridge Map

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Training Log: Keystone Gulch Form Run – 19 August 2013

For this installment of Training Log I’m sharing my run this morning 19 August 2013. It was the first day of school so everyone was up early. I got out of the condo at 7:00 AM and it was pretty cold still. It was damp too, having rained quite a bit yesterday evening.

Trail run up Keystone Gulch cold morning
Trail run up Keystone Gulch cold morning

I was still pretty tired from my big runs and climbs last week, and decided that if I can’t go fast I might as well work on my form. I tried to make nice fast paced little circles with my feet and strike gently for as long as I could. I also tried to reduce my stops, but ended up pausing to take a few pics and vids.

Strava for the Keystone Gulch Easy Form run 19 August 2013
Strava for the Keystone Gulch Easy Form run 19 August 2013

I had planned to run at least a 10k, and it was a bit of a mental game to do that, since the road between 2.5 and 3.0 miles seems steep compared to the rest of it. Here’s the Strava Overview for this run [CLICK HERE]

Below is the Keystone Gulch Map View

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Training Log: Squaw Peak UT – 8 July 2013

In my training for Elbrus Race 2013 I have done a lot of uphill “running” or “really fast walking” as I like to say to some people I pass on the trails. I’ve done Squaw Peak, just outside of Provo Utah up Rock Canyon a few times. I took the kids up there once in the fall. It was really pretty.

Here is the GPS track from Strava. When I first did this run I placed pretty highly out of those who’ve done it. In the meantime nearly ten others have squeezed in with better times. That’s the fun thing about Strava – your placing is in near real-time. CLICK HERE for more info on it.

It was a while ago, but I remember how hard it was to keep cranking away on that last uphill stretch. I was surprised to see a lot of rock climbing anchors at the summit. I suppose they’ve managed to put in some more long routes on that face. I’ll have to see if they’re anything I can climb.

Squaw Peak Segments on Strava
Squaw Peak Segments on Strava

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High Rep Calf Raises

I was talking to a friend a couple weeks ago. He was doing off-season training for ice climbing and mentioned how his calves would get tired while leading. In leading ice you normally stand on your front points and lower your heels to lock in your knees and keep your weight on your bones, or skeleton. This saves wear and tear on your muscles. Be that as it may though, it still takes quite a bit of flexibility and strength to do most efficiently. This made me think about my own training with high rep calf raises.

Without going into too much detail about muscles, the calf is built with two different ways of moving. Basically, the calf lifts your heel, or pushes with the toes. It’s the same thing really. One set of calf muscles does this while the knee is straight. Another set does it while the knee is bent. In the High Rep Calf Raises we’re going to see here, your knees are straight. The calf muscles are pretty small overall, and for many of us don’t respond well to hypertrophy. That means they won’t get very big. You use your calf muscles all day long. Every step you take. So they’re pretty well tuned to high volume work. Lots of repetitions. I like 25 for the weights I use for my high rep calf raises.

High Rep Calf Raises Progression

One thing about any type of training, including maybe especially high rep calf raises, is that when you first begin, you might not be very strong. Many people will start with only their own bodyweight, possibly even supported. Let’s begin with a stretch. In the photo below I’m stretching one leg at a time, and I’m fairly flexible there. At first you can use two legs. I’m standing on a 6″ stepping box, but anything sturdy will work like stairs or a deck. Use your hands for balance. Let your heel drop below your toes as far as you can with just a mild burn in your calf. Hold that position for about 20 seconds. That’s it. You’re done. Do it before and after your calf exercise.

Stretch your calf muscles before high rep calf raises
Stretch your calf muscles before high rep calf raises

If you’ve never done high rep calf raises before, use that same step to lift your body up, keeping your knees straight, with both legs. Just your body weight is good for now.

Bodyweight 2-leg high rep calf raises
Bodyweight 2-leg high rep calf raises

When you can do 4 sets of 25 at bodyweight with two legs, then you can begin to add weight. Barbells can be tough to balance on your shoulders while doing calf raises, so I like to use the Safety Squat Bar. But you can just use anything that has weight. In the photo below I’m using a 25 lb olympic size weight plate.

Weighted high rep calf raises
Weighted high rep calf raises

If you’re feeling pretty strong and want to give it a go, you can do your weighted high rep calf raises on only one leg. Keep in mind though that for many people balance can really be an issue. Don’t hurt yourself.

Weighted Single Leg High Rep Calf Raises
Weighted Single Leg High Rep Calf Raises

High Rep Calf Raises Video

In this video I’m doing a set of high rep calf raises. 25 reps at 245 lb. (4 x 45) + 65 (for the bar) = 245 lb. This is a Safety Squat Bar and I’m glad it is. Notice how it swings when I step up onto the riser at the beginning and how it leans when I set it into the hooks at the end? If it were a straight bar I wouldn’t be able to use my hands to help with balance. But that’s just me. You might not have any issues at all. I love how my calf muscles shake the last few sets in the inset lower right. I did this after my squat training session for the day. I did that after my elliptical warmup. My legs were pretty warm by then. I recommend you warm up too. Calf muscles are pretty small and can be pretty tight, so make sure you properly warm up before you train them hard.

For myself that weight and volume works for me. You can experiment with other sets and reps to see what works for you.

Phase One Training Protocols for Elbrus Race 2013

This is a great workout to prepare for the hiking season too!

This first phase of training is four weeks, and builds a base for the rest of the training.

Stairmaster Stepmill
Stairmaster Stepmill Training

1) strive for 4,500′ of vertical per week

You can break this up just about any way that makes sense, but at least 2,500′ needs to be outside and it’s better if it’s like 3 x 1,500′ though it can vary depending on conditions available.

Stairmaster – is great and about the right inclination, or angle of ascent, for Elbrus Race training. Work at 75 steps per minute at this level. 20 minutes at 75 s/m = 1000′
Incline Treadmill – set at 28% and strive for 1.8 mph. 20 minutes at 28% and 1.8 mph = 890′
Incline Ellipticals – while this is great training for your legs, I can’t recommend including this in your weekly vertical targets. None of them have you using anything close to your full bodyweight, and it’s not directly proportionate. If you want to, you can use them as a warm-up for strength days.
Jacob’s Ladder – Far out. Excellent. Not quite directly applicable to climbing Elbrus, but a great workout. If you move at 60 feet per minute (on the gauge) you’ll do 1200′ in 20 minutes.

Using a jacobs ladder
Jacobs Ladder training

2) Strength Training 2x per week

Try to do the following two sessions per week for this phase of training. Any weight = whatever you can manage for the whole set/rep session. This could be as low as one 45 lb bar, or level 3 on a selectorized machine or tower. You want a good solid burn, but recoverable.

Deadlift: 4 x 25 any weight
Squat: 4 x 25 any weight
Bench Press: 4 x 25 any weight
Lat Pulldown: 4 x 25 any weight
Hanging Leg Lift or Knee Raise: 6 x 15
Roman Chair Ab Curl: 4 x 25
Back Hyper Extensions: 4 x 25 – if too easy hold a plate

Set of 25 Hanging Knee Raises


3) Leg Speed 2x per week

Do “Mountain Climbers” shooting for fast feet. You can do this either before or after your “running” sessions. If done on strength sessions, do first. If you’re using this as a hiking workout then you can skip the Mountain Climbers unless you’re already in excellent general condition.

Weight Training Deadlift
Weight Training Deadlift

Anyone wanting to participate in Elbrus Race 2013 and not knowing where to start, here’s a great set of goals to get you through the first one third of your available training time. Go for it. Be the best you can.

Video Collection: Training in Colorado

I’ve been in Colorado most of the past month, and training for Elbrus Race has been my primary goal. I’ve had to adjust slowly to the training effect from being above 9,000′ for all of my training. That’s good for me. I hope.

I’ve been doing strength training at the Breckenridge Recreation Center.

I’ve been trail running, as in this clip from Keystone Gulch Road.

Especially on steep trails, like Mount Royal overlooking Frisco, Colorado.

And I’ve been to the top of Quandary, a Colorado 14’er, a couple of times.

I’m having a blast, and watching my fitness improve almost daily. I’m hoping to do great at the Elbrus Race 2013.