I will never get tired of the feeling of the soft heat coming from a sunrise after freezing at 2500m, coming with warm and soft light serving this golden landscape of Seceda in the Dolomites in South Tyrol, Italy.
Photo by Guillaume Briard / Unsplash

Randy's in training, and he was kind enough to share some of his program with us. Maybe you can use some of these ideas as well.

Back when I first opened my website to Patreon supporters, Saga supporter Randy Roig, who hails from Oakland, fired me a few notes which I had put aside. They got lost in the onslaught of ideas and suggestions from so many of you. Not to be too overwhelmed, I hung onto a syllable or two and have finally hauled myself back to his input.

Randy is prepping to hike the Dolomites, which are pictured above. Impressive, right? Here's what to know about these lovely peaks:

Dolomites | Location, Mountains, & Facts
Dolomites, Italian Alpi Dolomitiche, mountain group lying in the eastern section of the northern Italian Alps, bounded by the valleys of the Isarco (northwest), the Pusteria (north), the Piave (east and southeast), the Brenta (southwest), and the Adige (west). The range comprises a number of impres…

While they are not quite as front and center as the world's great seven peaks, the easiest of which is Kilimanjaro, you can cobble together one heck of a lovely vacay in Italy around a trek, which sounds like a perfect way to justify heading to Europe.

However, the reason I want to highlight Randy's story is because what he's doing is right up my alley, and one of the very reasons I am in the adventure business: Randy is taking this very seriously. As he should. Not enough of us do.  A big trip like this is one of the best reasons in the world to get in serious shape.

To that, first, let me share with you what he sent me:

A few tips from the training regime I am on, which is different (and definitely better) than I would have created myself

1. A lot of the work is not hiking, but "hardening" my knees, ankles, hips by use of stretching and strength exercises. I do two of these hardening-oriented programs a week
2. The "hiking" training alternates between long sessions (90 minutes) maintaining 90-110 bps on an elliptical stepper (my choice), one 8-10 mile hike, at this point only over moderate hills (200-300 ft), and a HIIT program where I do 4 sessions of 3 minutes at 8 RPE, each followed by a 90 second recovery. The HIIT will eventually grow to 5 and 6 sessions of the 3 minute effort.
3. I do one session of pure strength training a week
4. I have one rest day.

The hardening is aimed at helping do various items that would normally stress your knees and ankles as a part of hiking, for example, doing 2 sets of 16 regs on a 18" step up for each leg.

HIIT for the uninitiated is High Intensity Interval Training.

RPE is rate of perceived exertion.

What Randy is doing is planning to not fail. And if he does have a fall or a fumble, he can not only get back up but also keep going. This kind of serious preparation, which is wholly appropriate if not critically necessary for us to do such a trip, is also what we might want to consider for just about any aspect of life.

This is also how you train for your eighties and beyond.

Now, is that an understatement? Not really. Here's why.

Once you and I have entered a period of serious training for, say, an endeavor like the Dolomites, which would be not only brag-worthy but one of those trips of a lifetime about  which we can feel justifiably proud, we end up with three things that we might not have planned for:

  1. A brand new body
  2. The body confidence from the work AND the adventure
  3. The question, now that I did that,what's next?

Those are three gifts that my first trip up Kilimanjaro gave me. I am a HUGE fan of taking on a big hairy goal like this for this very reason. As Randy trains and hardens those parts of himself which are subject to failure on such a journey (knees, hips, ankles), the very work he is doing to ensure a safe and joyful passage of those storied peaks is also the very work which will best ensure an even more safe and joyful passage as he ages.

This is, in fact, one of the main reasons I chose adventure travel as a living, and have put a second summit of Kili in front of me for next year.

Here are the two workouts Randy sent me :

Now, this is pretty assertive. Before you take something like this on, please PLEASE get with a trainer, a PT, etc. to ensure that you're ready. JennyB, Nurit, all of us will tell you we want you to get fit, and that we also want you to do it slowly and with great regard for your body. We start where we start, and we move up as we are ready.

I used a big-ass  mountain to get myself in the kind of primo shape I'd always dreamed about. I cannot speak for anyone else, but that journey redirected my entire life. As Penny Nelson works with her trainer, now into her tenth or eleventh month by my guess, the results of consistency are beginning to really show even as a certain doldrums (her word) can creep in.

Her trainer, backed up by Nurit and JennyB, told her that weight loss begins in the kitchen. Indeed. Penny wrote me recently that she noticed that she was walking more instead of riding her motorbike, which is what comes as we gradually, almost imperceptibly gain strength and body agency. We let things drop by the way side, be they canes or walkers or crutches or whatever, and kinda quietly just evolve into Something Else without actually really marking our progress.

Setting up a Big Adventure, a lifetime goal or something that we can aspire to which requires us to be in shape to be able to do it safely is by far one of THE best motivators I know. It's not for everyone. But whatever it takes to energize you to take your body and diet in hand and start taking primo care of yourself is worth it.

Randy's program, being administered by a coach, is the kind of workout which allows him to change the conversation with an aging body, which is what my workout did, which is what Nurit does for her clients. And as you and I take on these adventures, we also change the conversation with our families, our loved ones, our doctors (ya think?) and those who are watching us rewrite our futures.

We are all aging. My world is the adventure world. Covid and some nasty injuries cost me a chunk of my fitness, not for lack of interest but  more for body parts in slings and braces and being up on blocks for a while. I've located some soft ankle supports which have allowed me to hike in comfort, and I am now past the major parts of shoulder surgery and am doing my full gym workouts again.

You take this in stride. If I need ankle supports to hike better, do I care? Nope. I just want to be able to hike. These days I feel like Dan Marino is his last years as the Dolphins' quarterback: a mass of braces and hinges and creaks and squeaks. But we're still in the game.

Two more hand surgeries to go, but I have workarounds. Randy's story was such a great motivator to focus on workarounds to keep going. We will injure.We will have body parts which bark at us as we age. AND we can just keep finding ways to stay active. For the Dolomites, and all the other lovely places in the world, are calling you and me.

If you are so moved to go explore, I can't think of a better way to get in shape than commit to something bigger than you've ever done. That could just as easily be a big hike in your own back yard.

The impossible becomes possible when you get assessed for where you are, don't let that stop you, and take the first powerful steps towards making things happen. Be sure you buy muscle cream, good band aids, and pack one hell of a good sense of humor along for the ride.

You can do this. You don't have to hike the Dolomites. That's Randy's jammo. What's yours?

JennyB getting it done in Canada credit JennyB

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