Teamwork – Going Fast vs. Going Far

You’ve probably heard the African proverb, “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” Or, if you’re like me, you only heard of this recently (maybe even right now).

The-Peakbaggers-If-You-Want-To-Go-Fast-Go-Alone-If-You-Want-To-Go-Far-Go-Together

It’s a simple yet powerful concept. One that emphasizes the importance of teamwork. Putting this in to practice is another thing. “Going together,” means making constant adjustments. It means that sometimes you’re moving at breakneck speeds – everyone is working efficiently, pushing the rest of the team in some sort of motivational infinity-loop. Other times it means that you have to slow down, re-asses and re-group. Which can be frustrating.

A few weeks ago I and the rest of The Peakbaggers decided to take this proverb to heart and create #DiscoverYour Wild. #DiscoverYourWild is a program where we invite anyone to join us every Wednesday at 7pm for a different, free outdoor adventure. We decided to invite others to join our training.

Initially it felt counter-intituitive. I asked myself, “Why bring others along?” Alone I could train how I wanted, when I wanted. In a group I would have to worry about planning, programming, and promoting the weekly adventures. Being in a group also means I’m accountable. It means that I HAVE to show-up, even when I don’t want to.

Last week I led a 12km bike-ride around some of Toronto’s scenic bike paths. Before the event I felt nervous and anxious and tired. It was hot and I was hungry and not sure if I felt like a ride. I also wanted the event to go really well and everyone to get something out of the experience. I questioned everything, “Is the course to short or long?” “Was there a better spot to meet?” etc. Once we met up a lot of those feelings disappeared.

Then, in the middle of the ride, I thought about how I really wanted a harder workout. The path was relatively flat and I wanted to either go really fast and leave everyone, or stop and do pull-ups. I joked about this with another rider and he said, “Why don’t we bike up that big hill at the end?” I rode up and let other’s know they could try and climb the hill too, or wait at the bottom. Everyone finished the 12km and then 4 of us started the climb. As I switched to my road bike’s lowest gear I started to pant heavily. The air was humid and thick and I thought about giving up. Then someone passed me and I knew I had to keep going. Four others joined in on the climb and we all high-fived at the top.

I was reminded again in that moment that having patience in a team can result in moments where you push yourself harder than you thought you could go. I rode my way home with some of the people (which was a workout in itself) and we all joked about how exhausted and tired we were and how the short bike ride turned in to so much more.

While I know at times I will still resist being around others and working in a team, I realize that going beyond my limits to unimaginable places means re-joining the group and letting each of us carry the other forward.


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How to Accomplish Impossible Goals

Do you have a goal that feels impossible? Something you want to get started but aren’t sure it’s achievable? Or maybe it is really daunting and you’re having trouble following through?

Whether it is a big, lofty goal, or something smaller, we all could use some help finding ways to stay motivated and put in the work to make those goals reality. In the next few paragraphs I’m going to tell you a personal story that I think explains the over-arching idea of “constant work” (which can be easier than it sounds) and then share one trick that has really helped me.

For me, the big, impossible goal has been having good balance. If I’m going to be honest, I would like to be able to walk across slacklines with calmness and ease, but simply standing on one foot for more than a few seconds or doing a single-leg squat would be a HUGE achievement for me. You see, when I was 7 I was diagnosed with a benign brain-tumour. The tumour was right at the part where my spine attaches to my brain – the part that controls things like motor function.

In the hospital room, after the tumor was successfully removed and I was out of a wheelchair, Doctors would watch me try to walk in a straight line across the room. I couldn’t do it. I would wobble and fall off course. It was upsetting and embarrassing. When I was out of the hospital I would practice this by walking on the edges of curbs or along the lines painted on the roads. I still do this and think about how I felt in that hospital so many years ago.

People told me, “you will always have poor balance,” or, “you’ve always been uncoordinated.” I’ve never believed that just because I’ve been one thing for most of my life doesn’t mean I can’t change. After the tumor  I couldn’t throw a baseball to a target. Then, in my 20s  I could. Despite being slow and uncoordinated, I ran cross-country in elementary school, played basketball and skateboarded. Later I played rugby in high school. Slowly things started getting better, but my balance was always terrible and still kind of is. I still will loose my balance while standing still or going down stairs. But slowly that is changing.

I’ve increased my focus on improving my balance. I now try to balance on one foot when brushing my teeth and grinding coffee. I’m slacklining and doing yoga as well. And last week I made an amazing leap forward. Standing in the kitchen, I stood on one foot and began to grind coffee without teetering. I smiled and said, “I’ve never been able to do this before…in my entire life.” I’m also able to do single-leg squats, or pistols – another thing that I’ve been working on for about 3 years.

My point is, if you keep working at something you will improve. It may be slow and the results may seem almost unnoticeable, but tiny achievements add up.

The GM for the British Cycling Team Dave Brailsford calls this the “aggregation of marginal gains.” The concept it simple, if you make a 1% improvement everyday the results will improve exponentially. He used this technique to bring Great Britain’s first Tour de France win in 2012.   James Clear, a studier and writer on “habits”, has made this great graph that highlights what just 1% a day can do:

 

In applying this thinking to my everyday life I’ve learned to stay focused and trust that the work will pay-off. Before I may have been frustrated that I wasn’t really seeing results after a week, month, or year of work. (Maybe you can relate?) Now, I tell myself, “Put in the 1%… Every. Day. Put in the 1%.” And I’m seeing it work in ways people told me were impossible.


What goals are you working on? Do you have any tips for making the impossible possible? Let us know below. Get article of motivation, workout tips, and exciting videos in your inbox every Monday – subscribe to our newsletter!

We’re meeting at Sherbourne and Bloor for our next Discover Your Wild adventure (July 22)! See you there!


Mountaineering Training – Week 1

A few weeks ago I asked myself, “How do I get ready to summit mountains ranging from 1,651m – 5,956m?” Then I asked the Internet.
Most trainers will tell you that the best way to train for any sport is to do that sport. By that logic, the best way to train for mountaineering is to go up mountains. The problem is that I live in Toronto and there aren’t any mountains close by. Sure, I can drive for 7 hours and be in the Adirondacks. But realistically, I need a daily training plan that will get me alpine-ready.

Enter Fit Climb, a website with tons of FREE training plans to get you mountain ready. I just started following their 8 Month Mountaineering Training Plan. This plan is designed to get someone ready for elevevations below 7,000 metres – which is perfect for me.

I’ll run you through how the first week has gone and what I expect going forward, but first I’d like to give you the basics…

The Basics

The main goals of any mountain fitnes plan is to increase your endurance, strength, balance and agility. Here is why each of these elements is important:

Endurance

As most people know, the higher the elevation of the mountain, the less oxygen is available. What this means is that as you climb, your body has to work harder to get the same amount of oxygen. So, if you can raise your endurance level, your body becomes more efficient. This level of efficiecny is measure by something called your V02 max – the ratio of how much work your body can do in relation to oxygen intake.

Strength

As the height of a summit increases, or as the technical difficulty increases, there is an increase in the amount of gear to carry. Mountaineers can easily be carrying packs of over 40lbs and dragging sleds of over 200lbs, so strength is a key factor. The focus is on abdominal, back, and leg strength. Strength in these aresas also increases your efficiency of movement and help with your endurance levels.

Balance and Agility

Things like carrying a pack, moving up steep elevations, and crossing unstable terrain all are tests on your balance and agility. The more comfortable you are standing on one foot or balancing on one hand, the more comfortable you’ll be when your body starts to get tired, or the terrain shifts, or you have to move around various obstacles.


Here is what I did for Week 1 of the new fitness plan I am following and my notes on how it all went down:

Monday

  • 10 min dynamic warm up
  • 30 min run
  • 1 set of 10 reps of the following:
    • Step ups front
    • Step ups side
    • Step downs
    • Push Ups
    • Crunches
    • Plank (60 seconds)
    • Mountain climbers

This day felt great. I always start with a dynamic warmup instead of a stretch. Stetching before a workout can cause injury, while a dynamic warm-up (like leg-swings, air-squats, a light jog) can prepare your muscles. I’ve been running for the past few weeks and so the run went well. I ran 5.04km at an average pace of 5:58/km. The workout afterward went smoothly; the hardest part being the 60 second plank.

Tuesday

  • Rest Day

Wednesday

  • 10 min dynamic warm up
  • 20 min cardio @ 70% MHR
  • 3 sets of following:
    • Squats (15)
    • Step ups front (40)
    • Step ups side Left and right (40)
    • Step downs (40)
    • Push Ups (10)
    • Crunches (50)
    • Plank (60 seconds)
    • Mountain climbers (50)

Because I biked for over 20 minutes this day I went right to the workout. During the workout it felt great and I kept an even pace. Total time was 36 minutes. Almost immediately after, however, my adobinal muscles began to really ache.

Thursday

  • 10 min stretch and warm up
  • 40 min stairs @ 70% MHR
  • 20 min walking

For this I focused on keeping an even pace, keeping my head up, and breathing consistently. I completed 2,061 steps up and 1,976 steps down.

Friday

  • 10 min stretch and warm up
  • 30 min cardio @ 70% MHR
  • 3 sets of following:
    • Squats (15)
    • Step ups front (40)
    • Step ups side Left and right (40)
    • Step downs (40)
    • Push Ups (10)
    • Crunches (50)
    • Plank (60 seconds)
    • Mountain climbers (50)

My calf muscles were quite sore from Thursday and I skipped this workout.

Saturday

  • 10 min stretch and warm up
  • 2-3 hr walk or hike with 15-20 lb pack

I skipped this wokrout as well and went for a longer bike ride. However, I wish I hadn’t skipped this.

Sunday

  • Rest Day

Final thoughts

This week went relatively well and I’m excited to move forward. I’ve been doing CrossFit for 3 years and this plan really showed me where there are still some weaknesses. My cardiovascular system is already improving drastically with a few runs a week. My abdominal strength still needs work.


I’m curious about what you do to prepare for mountains or other similar acitivies. What are you doing? How are you staying motivated? Let me know in the comments below. Also, make sure to subscribe to our newsletter and never miss an update.