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How do you prepare for the rigorous physical requirements of high elevation adventure? Strength and endurance are key, but are only part of a more complex equation. How do you prepare for changes in altitude, exposure, diet, etc.? How do you mentally prepare? Learn from others and share what you know about training in advance for outdoor adventures.


Postby KathyW » Wed Aug 08, 2007 9:22 am

Another topic that is of interest to me lately is recovery from a tough hike or climb.

When I came back from my Rainier trip I just couldn't stop sleeping for about a week. The weekend after the trip I went out and did a fairly tough day hike and felt pretty good, but then my body started to rebel. When I tried to run during the following week my legs would hurt. Then the hike to Carillion two weeks after Rainier felt harder than normal and last weekend on Saturday I started up the trail and my body just said no. I turned around and headed home and slept the rest of the day. Last Sunday I was finally able to do some trail running/hiking without my legs hurting and last night I did my typical run around my neighborhood and felt good.

I need to try to understand the recovery process, so that I don't have the problems I've had lately. Maybe tough hikes should be every other weekend or maybe I need to get out the day after a tough hike and do an easy run or hike.

Any suggestions?


Postby quentinc » Fri Aug 10, 2007 1:08 pm

Kathy, this is a great topic.

My standard approach has been that I need as many rest days as the number of days of the trip I just finished (I always go "all out" on each day of my backpacks). That means no exercise at all the first day or two, and then only easy walking/cycling for the remaining days. In fact, the first day after a tough backpack, I usually feel like a zombie. And if I don't, then it means I didn't hike far/hard enough!

But I've also experienced trips after which I was totally dead, for a long time, like you're describing. Those are trips on which (in retrospect) I overdid it. I think it's similar to the phenomenon described as "overtraining" (even though that's usually incurred over a long period of time). One summer, it took me over a month to get back to anywhere near normal. That was after a North Lake - South Lake trip when, due to time limitations, I had to hike out from LeConte Canyon to the North Lake trailhead (over Bishop Pass) in one day. Since I was already tired from the previous days, I was dying by the time I hit Upper Dusy Basin. Not a fun day!
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Postby maverick » Fri Aug 10, 2007 3:28 pm

There are alot of variables that will affect your recovery.
For example heat, altitude, dehydration, over exertion, lack of good
sleep, inadequate calories consumtion and lack of a good training
regimen all can push you over the edge.
If you keep up with all of the above you will bounce back alot faster.
Also listen and understand the signals you body sends you, alot of
people ignore these signals and end up bonking or worse.
I like doing extreme hikes and pushing my body to its limits, but not
futher, unless of coarse in case of an emergency, thats were a person
in tune with there body can stop.
This is one of the reasons its good to find a hiking partner who has
similiar qualities and ambitions when it comes to hiking, or go solo,
but going solo requires much more hightened senses and not allowing
ego to dictate your decisions.
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Postby Trailtrekker06 » Fri Aug 10, 2007 7:41 pm

Kathy- do you use recovery drinks at the end of the day? These might help some. I know you are familiar with E caps and Hammer products, they have a recovery drink. Even Clif has a recovery drink now, I will be trying it next weekend...have to work tomorrow, so I'm in town :(
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Postby madeintahoe » Fri Aug 10, 2007 10:08 pm

Kathy..Thank you for starting this! I was going to post something that is going on with me in regards to recovery....so I am glad to see this!

I returned from a 6 day backpacking trip...Kerstin from this board was with me and also another friend. We got back home late evening on July 31st..today is day 10 from being back home and not doing anything.
I felt good when I got back home, tired but good...wednesday woke up felt fine..at about 3:00 PM it hit me like a ton of bricks..I was falling asleep at the computer and went to take a nap...the next day my right calf, ankle, and foot were very hard and swollen...I was still very tired & continued to take naps during the day for the next 5 days & I wanted to go to bed already at 9:00!! The swelling in my one leg lasted for about 5 days..that is all better now. The last 3 days have been pretty good & today has been the best I have felt energy wise since I have been back.

I also had something very odd going on with my breathing the next day I got back home and was very scared...it felt like I was not getting enough air to my lungs, almost like I was gasping for air..and a bit of a fluttering feeling...this lasted about 5 days..but each day it got better. This happen to me once about 6 years ago when I retuned from almost the same backpacking trip..but that time it was a lot worse..all I did was sleep and the breathing was worse..I went to a heart doctor to see what was going on...I told her what I had been doing and what elevation I was at..I told her I took birth control pills to stop my period...as I did not want to have a period while on a backpacking trip..she told me that because I took the BC pills and went to a high elevation..that it caused a small blood clot which is why I was having the breathing thing & that it naturally dissolved itself..said I was very very lucky.

During this recent trip I never had any signs of altitude sickness, I never had a headache, I ate good, slept pretty good, felt good while hiking..I was tired at the end of each day, but was never sick....went to 13,641 feet and never had any issues... the only thing I can think of is...is it possible that I did damage to my lungs or over worked my lungs and heart from all the hiking and concentrating on my breathing with sometimes doing pressure breathing while hiking uphill? I know I did not drink as much water as I should have been....and it was very very hot are 1st day and my pack was at 43 pounds going up Shepherds Pass. :eek: :crybaby: Also it has been 6 years since I have done a 6 day trip..the last few years I have only done 4 to 5 day trips and they were not as strenuous as this one was.

I am very curious if anyone else has had anything like this happen to them & what is it caused from..the breathing thing is what is really a worry to me.
Sorry for the long post..but wanted to explain and hopefully get some advise on this!
Thanks Everyone!
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Postby SSSdave » Sat Aug 11, 2007 8:49 pm

In past years I've done some particularly strenuous trips where I over stressed body parts and then had to pay the price with an extended period of recovery. Most of the time in my case, these were due to excessive vertical climbing out of the mountains where one is pounding downhill a long ways. At worst it has taken a week to ten days to recover. In recent years I've been hiking enough before any such challenges that I've strengthened my body enough that I'm not prone to such damage. For instance from late May thru June this year I did four relatively easy backpacks priming myself for more strenuous trips in July.

During the ski season its pretty much the same thing. The first half dozen days skiing I tend to only ski one day or just one day and a few runs on a second day because my body simply cannot take what my mind knows how to do. So pull the plug early instead of waiting till my body talks back to me. Of course I'm quite a bit older than most backpackers and have come to see that I can still do much of what I did twenty years ago but need to wisely keep my body from repeatedly tearing down muscel and body tissues since theory is the genetic templates degenerate over time. As for needing sleep that can be due to a lot of things beyond recovery. I'm one that doesn't drink alchohol, caffein drinks, or any drugs except theobromine. The later is the mild caffein like stimulant in chocolate that I tend to down only after trips in order to stay awake driving the several hours back to the SF Bay Area. If I eat chocolate at say 5pm one afternoon, the next day at the same time of day my body and mind is guaranteed to be sluggish and sleepy. A couple days later and that smooths out. ...David
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Postby KathyW » Sun Aug 12, 2007 8:31 pm

I have been drinking a recovery drink after I exercise or hike. I'm not sure it's the best one or if it really helps, but I really like the taste of it so it goes down easy. It's the Endurox R4 Recovery Drink - the orange flavor is really good.

After not being able to hike last Saturday and then sleeping the rest of the day away. I got up Sunday and took the Palm Springs Tram up to Long Valley, which is at 8500 feet elevation and nice and cool. I ran/hiked out to Round Valley and felt great, so I hiked on to Mount San Jacinto and Folly Peak before running back to the tram station. It was a great day and not too strenuous - about 12 miles and 3000 feet gain. Then this past week I did my neighborhood runs a couple of nights after work and my legs didn't hurt. Anyway, my hike yesterday went well - my body felt good finally. Maybe active recovery in the form of an easy weekend here and there is the answer.

Postby KathyW » Sun Aug 12, 2007 8:37 pm


I'm glad you're starting to feel better. It is sometimes so hard to read what our bodies are telling us.


Postby Trailtrekker06 » Sun Aug 12, 2007 8:50 pm

Kathy- I've heard Endurox is really good, but don't know first hand. Sounds like you are doing okay. Maybe our bodies are just telling us pay attention!! ? I feel 20 but I know when I look in the mirror I'm not, so maybe our insides are aging and we can't expect them to kep up with our brains!!? I'll keep my body active until I can't move anymore, I know keeping active helps in many ways.
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Postby Ranboze » Tue Aug 14, 2007 11:26 pm

Great topic and posts. The only thing I have to contribute is a testimony to what Kathy called "active recovery". When I was running marathons, I was taught/coached to run the day after the marathon... the last thing I ever wanted to do - it hurt like heck. We were not to do a hard run, just a short easy 20-30 minute run, to loosen up the muscles. Passive recovery likely has a lot of adverse effects, such as muscles stiffening up. Sleep is good too!
Walking outside is where I find what's inside.
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