Everest Base Camp Training – months 3-6 of a 12 month training schedule
I’m going to Everest Base Camp on the Tibetan side. Here is a diary of the physical and mental training I did in preparation for this. Obviously the ultimate goal is to be able to:
- hike for up to 10 hours a day,
- with an 8 kilo back,
- with ever diminishing supplies of oxygen
- regardless of the weather and/or my health status!
- for 10 consecutive days
I’d already modified the exercise I was doing to be more intense, with multi-peak heart rate circuit style of training, hypoxic swimming, and body balance / rehab type exercises such as bikrum yoga / pilates and loads of bush walks. Personally bikrum was/is my preference – I’ve been doing it for years and my body responds very positively to the heated flexibility training and core stability. It calms my mind and reminds me to breathe, just breathe, when feeling overwhelmed.
I needed a different goal than the last 3 months so I settled on two events in this 3 month period:
- the half marathon iconic race Point to Pinnacle (walk). It’s tough. All up hill. I’ve completed this race twice before and found it gruelling both times, but fuelled by a new challenge I was keen to do it again in a time of 3:30 with 10 kilo on my back
- an overnight walk with the scouts – carrying a full pack (we went to Cape Pillar in southern Tassie)
By focusing on the Point to Pinnacle I had to increase my hiking pace. My plan was to hike at 7kph for 2 hours, then drop back to 6 for the final 90 minutes, knowing that the last 30 minutes are painful. I knew from experience that a break at about 90 mins in and again an hour later would make for time well spent – a quick stretch and lengthen and I’d be hiking faster to the end.
My training was going well – on a treadmill I could manage 7kph but I kept finding on land 6.5kph was about as fast as I could go! I bought some hiking poles and found they they were helpful in striking a rhythm. I’ll blog more about them later. In the end I had to reset my goals I just could not sustain the 7kph – so I either had to drop speed, weight or my time goal. I’m a bit stubborn, so I changed my plan – I’d need to walk 6.5 for 3 hours, then drop my pace to about 5kph for the final 30 mins – it would be hard but achievable. I tried the hilliest parts of the route to see if I could maintain 6.5 kph uphill and I could. I could do this, and if I set me heart on getting to “The Chalet” within 3 hours, 3 1/2 would be mine.
Now there is something competitive in me that does not like being passed. When I started to tire I just plugged in my music and got out my poles and powered on. I’ve got to say I’m feeling it here just below the start of the mountain where this photo was taken, I was about 90 minutes in at this point but right on target.
I pushed on and did not rest and my hips were starting to hurt, not just a little. I did however push on and made it exactly to “The Chalet” by exactly 3 hours so with 3 km to go I felt I had it in the bag. But I did not. My hip pain was beyond painful and into excruciating. I was almost lame going over the line with my poles now walking sticks – I was in a world of pain. I crawled over the line with a time of 3:48 I think. I was pretty disappointed with this time but my lovely friends were so positive about it I decided not to dwell on what was not . . . I still had 6 months of body preparation to go and the walking in Tibet is not fast, not ever and I thanked the stars above for that. I did become a minor celebrity in my own mind though – this photo was published in our local newspaper – and it’s amazing how many people look at the pictures – even my mum! (Signatures anyone???).
Next challenge was an overnight bushwalk – carrying all my gear – but that’s for another blog entry!