Month: June 2012

One-Leg Partial Squat to Bench

I do like to work my legs. They’re one of my favorite bodyparts to train, respond well, and recover quickly. Perhaps that’s because I do a lot of “pre-hab” work. This is a variation of a one-leg squat that’s fairly simple for most people to do. I’m using an adjustable box squat bench, but just about anything you have, like a chair, box, bench, toybox, entertainment center or whatever, can be made to work.

Stand beside the box with your weighted food parallel to the side of the box or bench, lift your unweighted leg to bend the knee, and very slowly and carefully lower your knee to the bench, and back to standing straight several times. I like to do sets of 25 for this, since it’s so light and has very little effect at this height – for me. You might just do a handful on each side the first time, like a set of 5 each, and see how it goes, then work your way up.


Pre-Hab is a twist on “re-hab” – by doing simple little stabilizing motions as a warmup for other heavier training, you can make sure your muscles are fully warmed up, flexible, and prepared for the stress of heavier weights. Proper preparation can help prevent injuries that can lead to re-hab, so Pre-Hab = Prevent re-Hab.

Since this is primarily a quad exercise, you’ll want to do these before bigger squats, or even leg extensions, especially since leg extensions rarely require any type of stabilizing involvement, and can actually de-train (reduce the strength through lack of use) your stabilizing muscles.

Go slow, don’t bounce off the bench, don’t slam your knee down, and if you lose your balance, let go of your ankle and stand up quick. Enjoy!

Band Sissy Squats

In my previous Blast Strap Sissy Squat article I showed a variation of the Sissy Squat supported by straps hung from a power rack. Today I’ll show a variation using a large rubber band. You can get these online from a variety of places, my personal favorite being EliteFTS.

In this variation you’re much less stable, and don’t break (fold) at the hips. This puts more of the force directly on the quads, but for some people the stress on the knee might not be acceptable, so be cautious – go slow till you know. I had previously experimented with a few sizes of bands, to roughly negate my weight at full stretch about a foot off the floor. In my case that was the Jump Stretch Green, or Strong Band. YMMV. You can fine-tune the force of the band by choking up or down on it with your hands. Don’t use too light of a band and just drop – you’ll hit the floor hard. Trust me…

Hang on and use your quads to slowly descend and ascend, hinging at the knees. Use your core to hold your knees to shoulders in a straight line. Hold your arms and hands neutral – don’t yank on the band. Slow and stead is the proper method.

Remember too that this is an accessory, or extra motion if you’re already training hard. Something to flush blood and toxins, or warm up, or cool down, or get the quads pre-fatigued so that the effects of other leg training can be modified for your goals. It’s also great for rehab or working up to doing full squats.


Pre-Fatigue: if you want to focus more on your posterior (hams/glutes) in a squat or deadlift, pre-fatigue, or train your quads to a good tired, worked state, so that they are relied upon less in your other lifts. Many bodybuilders use this concept in their quest to do full-body complete training for balance and symmetry. Others of us might not have to worry about it, but if you are really quad-dominant, you might experiment to see if that gives your hams an added boost. It might be worth the effort.


Training Hike – Half Dome via Cables Route

Sometimes a really good long (16 mile) hike in mountainous terrain with some good elevation gain and loss (5,600′) is excellent training for mountaineering. I wore my Polar RS800CX and got the data transferred to Google Earth, and generated this Elevation Profile:

Training Hike Half Dome Cables Elevation Profile of Ascent
Half Dome Cables Route Training Hike - Ascent Elevation Profile

I had a friend from California with to help me with logistics (permits, lodging, and transportation) and we hiked together. I’m normally alone in my pursuits, so it was a welcome change. We talked about maybe doing Rainier together sometime. It took 4:15 up, and we hung out on top for a while to enjoy the views, then 3:15 down, actually running off and on about half of the last mile. That felt good after 15 miles of hiking. This is excellent training for the Aspen Backcountry Marathon I’ll be doing in August.

Training Hike on Half Dome 3D Image Google Earth
Google Earth 3D Image of Training Hike on Half Dome

I’ve never been to Yosemite before, and it’s one of the best training/testing areas in the world for serious climbers, including Alpinists. Afterward, we spent a while at Glacier Point looking over the trail we’d just hiked, most of it visible, and the awesome exposed face. I fantasized about going back next year with one of my ropegun friends. Hmmmm …

If you want to read more, here’s a link to the article on my other blog: [ Half Dome Ascent via Cables Route ]

I’d love to hear anyone’s opinion of excellent training hikes you’ve done. If you have a blog article about it, put a link on my [ Facebook Page ] for all to share.

Steamboat Half Marathon Follow-up

Well, I did it. I lived through the Steamboat Half Marathon. First of all, here’s how I did by the clock:

Gun Time: 2:19:03 – Chip Time: 2:18:31 – Pace: 10:37
Overall Place: 564 – Gender Place: 197th
Age Group: 50 to 59 Male Division Place: 28th
Out of: 826 overall, 245 in gender, 37 in division

I took off reasonably slow and built up speed gently to a little faster than 10:00 pace. After about 3 miles I realized it wasn’t working well, and I was off my anticipated pace of 9:20. I thought the race was supposed to be mostly downhill, and the elevation profile published on the event website indicated mostly downhill with a few jaggies uphill. I got totally psyched that I was weak to be running so poorly and with such great effort downhill.

I got a cramp in my upper right abdominal quadrant that I thought might be from eating, so I adjusted my intake, didn’t eat any more, and drank my carb/electrolyte mix while taking only water at the aid stations. I forced myself down the hill, until finally around mile 6 I saw a long stretch ahead that was obviously uphill. I realized then that the entire course was like a slowly descending sawblade. Drop down 200′ over about 1/4 mile and spend the next 3/4 mile going back up 150′. Ouch, that explained a lot.

I cut back a bit and considered myself lucky to maintain 10:10 overall, and actually walked some on the steep uphills. Not what I had hoped for, but not that bad overall. I dragged in the last mile run/walk and as you can see from the pictures from just before the finish, I’m hunched over quite a bit. I took the icy towel, my Subway turkey, and crashed in the grass for a bit.

There was a kid’s run about two hours later, so we hung out and put the kids in it, with me as an escort. That was a miserable 1/2 mile. Then we went back to the condo and I hung out in the hot tub until I was sunburned.

I managed to analyze the data from my Polar RS800CX GPS G5 Heart Rate Monitor (graph shown below) and was actually encouraged, because in spite of the obvious hills in the graph, I had managed to keep a fairly quick and even pace average, despite not really training uphills at all. Another interesting thing was that my abs really ached, the muscles. At the chiropractor the next day I discovered that my right psoas was really tight and irritated, which might explain the abdominal cramping and hunching. It’s a chicken/egg situation, so I’ve been working on stretching my psoas (which isn’t at all easy).

Aside from the Aspen Backcountry Marathon I don’t have any clear-cut running goals, and am taking the week off from running, doing only elliptical and stairmaster training. I’ll have to decide next week how to adjust my training to prepare for Aspen.

Steamboat Springs Half Marathon Before the Race

In the past I’ve run two road half marathons, both downhill. One was the AF Canyon Half and the other was the Provo Halloween Half. My times were 2:08 and 2:25 respectively. Neither were really “awesome”, but the first one I’d never run 13 miles before, though I had done 10 mile long runs as part of 20 mile weeks for the previous 5 weeks. For the Provo run I was doing 6 mile long runs in 15 mile weeks, due to some injuries.

Also for the Provo run I was in recovery mode from the Aspen Backcountry Marathon in late August 2011 (with a 7:30 finish), after which I promised I would never run again (above picture was my medal at the end of Aspen). That lasted about 6 weeks and then I slowly got back into it, with some nagging IT Band issues. That was pretty frustrating, to say the least.

For this one though I’ve been working my way up to 40 mile weeks, and training on road surfaces, since this is a road half. Maybe the last one I ever do. I’ve been enjoying my trail training runs a lot, and of course, Aspen 2012 is a trail marathon, and Steamboat is really just a milestone and intermediate goal on the way there.

A few weeks ago, I had been considering a 2:00 finish for Steamboat, working toward a sub-6:00 finish for Aspen. We’ll have to wait till tomorrow to see if that’s reasonable or not. I’ve actually tapered for the first time ever, and have been doing a few dietary mods for pre-race eating that I’ve explored over the past several training runs. I ran a decent downhill 12 mile last week in 2:08, so unless I missed my taper and diet, I should be able to at least equal my PR, and hopefully set one.

I’ll let you know in the next day or two, as well as how I feel about what worked and didn’t for my taper. I will discuss my shoe and clothing choices and talk about how I feel trail running is an optimum training option for already fit mountaineers.