A month of ups and downs

“Your training regime in the new year will be bloody tough you know?” were the words Darren Blakeley told me at the end of December as I was about to head off to New Zealand to get married. “Yeah I can’t wait to get into it Darren” was my reply.

Well it’s now the end of the January and reflecting on the last 4 weeks I can see what Darren was meaning. To describe my Everest training program in a nutshell, there are two main phases. Phase One being primarily a strength and conditioning phase which lasted from October to December. Phase two started in January and has focussed more on endurance training.
For the last four weeks my weekly training schedule is:
Monday : Rest day
Tuesday : UFIT Hill running session (one hour)
Wednesday : Gym session (whole body)
Thursday : 2 hour stair session with leg weights and 15 – 20kg Pack
Friday : 2 hour stair session with leg weights and 15 – 20kg Pack or a gym session
Saturday : Long slow run or touch rugby
Sunday : 5-6 hour session consisting of a bike ride, rock climbing session & a stair session

The first 2 weeks of this program in January went well. However by the Sunday of each week I was feeling pretty juiced (tired – lacking energy), especially in my legs. The bike ride on Sunday mornings (which I ride with a group of around 10 – 12 other cyclists) was a real struggle especially. After 5 days of pounding my legs from Tuesday till Saturday, they are really feeling tired by Sunday morning come time for the 5 – 6 hour training session.

The third week of January things started to fall apart. I felt so tired by the time I reached the 3rd Sunday, I only just managed to drag myself out of bed at 6AM to join the riders. I grovelled my way around the 42km loop only just hanging in on the tail of the riders before getting home, grabbing my climbing gear and heading to dairy farm to climb for 2 hours. The climbing session was ok, however the following 2 hour staircase session I had well and truly hit the wall. Poor Lamby had to listen to my pathetic whining and moaning as I struggled around Bukit Timah’s stairways. It was about this time I started to hate Darren Blakeley and I consoled myself with the things that I was going to tell him about his training program and where he could consider sticking it when I finally got home! (Thankfully this did not eventuate. Darren’s training program really is very well thought out, however my temporary emotional outburst did give me some extra motivation when I needed it!)

As you can probably tell, I was basically just getting run down and very tired. It was no real surprise then that I woke up on the Monday leading into week 4, with a cold which turned into a minor case of the flu and saw me feeling like crap for most of last week. (People who have trained for endurance events will understand and relate to this as your immune system weakens through the constant training). Monday to Wednesday last week I rolled home after work and dived straight into bed, and it was not till Thursday that I started training again with a one hour stair session in my condo 30 story stairwell, followed by a one hour run. Friday morning I got up at 6AM for another 2 hour stair session, this time in the dark at Bukit Timah. Doing stairs at Bukit Timah is much more interesting than doing stairs in my condo. I took a video of the condo stair session here which you can see below. After you have watched I am sure you will agree with me how boring it would be doing this for 2 hours!

It was not until this last Sunday that I felt normal again. I woke at 6AM Sunday morning to a heavy rain storm that had been ongoing since most of Saturday. It ruled out climbing as the rock would be too greasy so I decided to go for a long bike and a run. 3.5 hours, 2 flat tyres and 102km (all through heavy rain) later, I arrived back home pretty relieved that I had managed to get around half of Singapore Island safely without even any near misses (Singapore drivers don’t respect cyclists especially when they can’t see them very well in tropical thunderstorms and the cyclist is riding solo). As I cruised down the ramp into my condo carpark, with only 10m of the 102km left to ride I hit a slippery patch of wet concrete and promptly slid off the bike, across the car park floor and straight into the wall. A family were getting into their car and could not manage the time to assist to untangle me from underneath my bike. So I hated them too as they drove away.

I am really excited to be heading to New Zealand in 3 days time, to one of my favourite stomping grounds, Mt Cook National Park in the Southern Alps. Here I will be attempting to climb a 3000m peak called ‘Malte Brun’ by a route known as the ‘full west ridge’. Attached is a photo I took of Malte Brun from the summit of Mt Cook in 2009, I have highlighted the west ridge route in red. The climb is mainly a rock route, and consists of a very narrow ridge with over 2000m vertical ascent required to reach the summit from the foot of the Tasman Glaciar.

The West Ridge of Malte Brun (3199m) route shown in red. Photo taken from the Linda Shelf, Mt Cook.

The ridge gets very narrow and exposed in places as you can see from the photo below. I can’t wait to get on it.

Now all we need it some decent weather, unfortunately the forecast for this coming weekend is not looking very great.

I received some bad news today with respect to a major potential sponsor for my climb pulling out at the last moment, which leaves me once again on the hunt for funds. This is not what I wanted to be focussing on at this stage, as my primary aim in the last two months leading into Everest were to focus on gear preparation, training, and raising money for the two non-profits my climb is supporting: HUMANEITY and the CAI. I am treating it as just another hurdle to overcome – there have been plenty thrown at me already and there will be plenty more. As some wise person (who I cannot remember the name of) said once – “it’s how we deal with failure which determines how successful we will be”.

Lastly I leave you with a quote from my good friend Mark Green who sent me this email today after I had informed him of my Everest plans. His words could not be more truthful:
“Holy cow. Are you serious. Everest!! – That is very trusting and generous of your new wife!! and selfish and childish of you!!!”


Posted on January 31, 2011, in Everest 2011. Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. Grant,

    That training regime is probably way to hard with insufficient rest days to allow your muscles to regain glycogen et al. And no wonder why your sniffles are about -lowered resistance from excessive cardio work. I cant recall that many Everest climbers who had such a training sked. your coach may be a pro at conditioning, but I wonder about the wisdom of overtraining…


  2. Once the training has finished, you could easily claim you have already climbed Everest without the photo on top. Man, I’m buggered just reading about your gruelling program and seeing the staircase video! It sure takes some commitment, tenacity and balls to undertake such a mammoth task. I’ll be vicariously with you all the way Superman.


  3. Ha ha.. .your good friend Mark Green is quite correct! And assuming that this is the Browns Bay Mr Green, send him our love! AM


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