Getting in Shape With Perfect Pace

(3/23/06) Perfect Pace events are tough. Most of the events are ranked at intensity level "Strenuous", with more of them moving increasingly into the category "Very Strenuous". We have even created a new category "Extreme" to rate some of our events that are over the top such as our annual Trilogy Challenge event. The extreme events typically exceed 30 miles and climb an elevation exceeding 10,000 feet.

And surprisingly, the common response is "Bring It On!" Extreme day-hikes are the latest craze. Whenever I put the word "extreme" in a trip description, folks go crazy and jump on it. Perfect Pace is a small specialized group which is catering more and more to the needs of gay athletes who like to hike hard. Most of the members are triathletes, marathoners, rock-climbers, trail-runners, mountain bikers, kayakers, etc. Perfect Pace is now attracting athlete/hikers throughout California and some out-of-state.

Why do we do this? I can't speak for others but one positive change Perfect Pace has made for me is whipping my butt into shape. I'm now in the best shape of my life. And the timing couldn't have been better. Heart disease runs in my family. Early last year my doctor told me I had high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and high triglycerides. He said that I would have to start on medication soon unless I did something about it. Medication? Heart attack? No way! So I made a self-commitment to start eating better and hiking with "perfect pace." Guess what, it worked ... my levels inched back into the normal range. A nice fringe benefit is getting a six pack which I couldn't even attain during my marathoning years. My doctor did notice my levels spike during the holidays, so it looks like no more gorging at Thanksgiving for me.

Now I'm passed the maintenance mode. Now I have a hungry desire, an insatiable craving to challenge my body to its limits and to experience the indescribable rush that I get from reaching that goal. Extreme day-hikes? Bring it on!

With the spring and summer schedule now posted, I invite you to get into the best shape of your life with Perfect Pace. The schedule is set up with a pyramid training scheme designed to prepare hikers for an August or September ascent of Whitney, the Trilogy Challenge, or other challenging trips.

How do I get in shape for a perfect pace event? You need to cross train to get in shape for Perfect Pace events. The only way that I can keep up with the other members in the group is by following this weekly routine. If I fall short of this, I become winded during the events:

Weekly Routine

  • Every day at work (Mon-Fri): 20 floors of stairs
  • Mon, Wed, & Fri: A fast five mile run up and down Carmel Mountain.
  • Every weekend: At least one day-hike or backpack trip of at least 8 miles with hiking poles for upper body workout
  • In addition, for challenging late summer treks like Mt. Whitney, starting an aggressive 7 weeks of hikes prior to the event.

Daily tips

  • Take the stairs. If there is an elevator, there is a staircase. Choose the latter.
  • Park at the far end of the parking lot. You will not have to wait in back of the other cars fighting for that store-front parking spot and have to worry about door dings.
  • With our Southern California drive-by culture, we have gotten so dependent on our cars. Leave it at home. Walk, ride your bike, or take mass transit. You would be surprised how much exercise you get walking to and fro bus stops.
  • Work out during your lunch break. That's what I do. It breaks my day in half and refreshes me for the next half.
  • If you run, bike, or walk for daily cardio, go to the hills. There are hills all over San Diego.

Eating Well

Eating well is not a diet; it's a life style. Keeping the extra pounds off also helps to move faster on the trail.

  • Choose whole grains. Grab the whole grain pasta and brown rice instead of the traditional white variety. Choose the bran muffin instead of the blueberry one.
  • Keep fresh fruit in the kitchen and in the office. Snack on fruit when you get hungry instead of the chips and candy.
  • Pass the fried option and choose the grilled one.
  • If you need to choose between alfredo and marinara, choose the marinara.
  • Salads are fabulous. They are the latest craze at the fast foods too. Just watch the dressing. Dip your fork into the dressing instead of pouring onto the salad or go for the light dressings.
  • It's okay to do fast food. My coworkers watch me come into work with bags from McDonalds, Burger King, Jack-in-the-Box, etc. and look at me in amazement asking me how I stay so skinny. The trick is getting the grilled chicken sandwiches (no mayo), and getting the side-salad (low cal dressing) instead of the fries. Or getting one of the new big fancy salads and watching the dressing and add-ons.
  • Try to stay clear of processed food. Think whole foods.
  • Fish is fantastic and it contains fats that are actually good for you.
  • Drink lots of water.
  • Vitamins are a good thing.
  • During a backpack trip, pig out! The backcountry is no place to be on a diet. Its difficult getting enough calories to recover from multiple days of hiking.

You do not need to be in tip top shape right now. Start gradually working up to it now. Make the commitment. At the end of the summer you'll be glad you did. You'll feel great. You'll get more looks walking down the street. Another bonus of getting in shape with Perfect Pace is that you'll witness some of the most beautiful views you will ever see in your life.