Since I have taken on the challenge to become the first NFL player to climb the Seven Summits, I have learned that there are three essential elements that contribute to the success of any expedition. The first is mental preparation. The second is physical capability and endurance. The third is Mother Nature.
I am headed to Mt Everest in April of 2020 and am focused on the 96% odds that I not only summit but come back alive. Naturally, that smaller 4% still rattles around in the back of my brain, as it represents the climbers the tragically die on Everest each year. After contemplating these odds over and over, the question becomes: what can I do to better prepare? Train, train & train. I personally believe that by taking yourself to physical places you have never been, it will train your mind to be relentless in not giving up when things get tough. Mother nature always plays a role in the outcome of any outdoor expedition, but you can’t fully prepare for that and can only hope to have good weather on the day you head for the summit. So physically, what do I do to train?
- I commit myself 100% – this is the key to everything! Too many people make their New Year’s resolutions only to give up on them by the Spring as the daily discipline of pushing yourself becomes a grind. You need to keep focused on the ultimate goal so you don’t quit no matter what.
- I moved to Sun Valley, Idaho. I decided to fully commit to my altitude training by relocating to a beautiful slice of paradise in the middle of Idaho where I live at 5,840’. This allows me to acclimate easier in the mountains by building up my red blood cells that carry oxygen throughout my body. When I'm in Sun Valley, I’m obviously way higher than I would be at sea level.
- I do a significant amount of cross-training. Each morning 6.30 am sharp, I head to the gym and do a series of Crossfit-type training exercises. My goal is always to work all three parts of my frame, including upper body, core and legs. Here is an example of what I do:
- 10 minutes on a cardio machine to warm up the body.
- 15 minutes of a variety of sit-ups to focus on the core. You find a great set of exercises on the app Instant Abs. I also like to use 17 lb weights of help make it harder when I do my traditional sit up’s with my arms stretched out behind me from the floor position and then lift both weights over my head as I raise up and come up to my knees.
- 35 minutes of Crossfit which is the hard part – I use an APP called Tabata. If you are not familiar with this type of exercising, it essentially uses is a timer that keeps you on pace for four minutes, which breaks down into nine rotations of 20 seconds on, 10 seconds off. To start, you pick three different activities that you will be rotating. For example, I start with pullups, then move to a 20 lb medicine ball that I throw against a wall, then finish with box jumps. Tabata keeps you on track and most importantly, it keeps you moving. The key is to get your heart rate up while using your body weight for resistance vs heavy lifting as you work all three parts of your body.
- Once you complete your first rotation, have a plan to start your next rotation of three exercises. I like to do TRX, burpees, and various kettlebell routines.
Again, the key is moving your body while keeping your heart rate up. If you do the exact same exercises every day, your body gets used to them and you don’t increase your fitness levels or sculpt yourself into what you want to be.
In the late afternoon comes the fun part for me as I typically go outside to train! Each day my best friend and I connect to do a ride/hike/ride combo. What does this mean? We start out on our mountain bikes and power pedal four miles away to a local hiking trail. When we arrive, we leave the bikes and head out on the trail for 4.2 miles. Once we return to the trailhead, we hop back on the bikes and hard pedal four miles back home.
One of the things that has helped to keep me motivated is another app called Strava. This popular app keeps a log of all my exercises, tracking stats like distance and altitude traveled and time spent. It’s fun to see at the end of the month how much progress I made!
I hope that some of my training techniques help you to accomplish your own physical goals and to reach new summits. For more info on training, tips, etc, head to www.MarkPattisonNFL.com.