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Is it genes?
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Huzefa Siamwala
(huzefa) - M
Is it genes? on 05/16/2008 20:28:29 MDT Print View

Just finished reading 'Not Your Ordinary Lightweight Backpacker: An Interview with Bill Merchant'.

>EZ: Trails must look different to you than to the rest of us. The Lonely Planet Guide describes the Resurrection Pass Trail on the Kenai Peninsula as a full four days’ hike. You do it as a training run, and how long does it take you?

BM: Twelve hours, including an hour’s rest at the top. That’s a superb trail, one of my favorites.


EZ: Now there's a concept. Can all people, properly equipped and trained, tolerate those conditions?

BM: NO! Not at all! Nor do they want to.

I want to. I would give up anything just to exprience what Bill does.
I love adventure (just planning/thinking about my next trip makes me happy) but I am no athlete. My question is with many years of training and will to do it, can it be done? OR Is it genes?

Ben 2 World
(ben2world) - MLife

Locale: So Cal
Re: Is it genes? on 05/16/2008 21:16:39 MDT Print View

I think genes play a part -- but only in the area of potential. Great genes plus great and persistent training produce world-class atheletes. But I think most all of us can do 'better' with training and persistence -- regardless of genes.

Huzefa Siamwala
(huzefa) - M
re: Is it genes?" on 05/16/2008 23:48:39 MDT Print View

Ben, isnt potential required in the first place? I dont know. I agree with you that most all of us can do 'better' with training and persistence.

I have decided to to go shelterless -not even a bivy- and no sleeping pad for any winter trip I do next. I have understood (but not tried yet) the use of merino wool, propore/cordura jackets and unnecessity of fleece for active purpose. I am working on an very light inflatable WP down jacket/pants idea made of poly. So down doesnt compress while sleeping and gives you comfort of DAM. Combine it with poly quilt for colder conditions. So 15lb could be quite possible. The real challenge is running. I have tried running on concrete but after a some days my calf and knee start paining. Then I take rest for a couple of weeks and that I start running back. Done this like 3-4 times. I dont want to run on concrete again. But then ice is hard too. I have had good exprience running on grass but cant seem to be keep on. I got injured a a few month back and since then I have stopped running. As I said before I am not an athlete and max I have ran continuosly on grass has been some 45 mins.

Recently I have started with swimming for cardio and upper body strenght. Right now I can do 25x40 laps in 50mins. Lot of breaks in between.

Miguel Arboleda
(butuki) - MLife

Locale: Kanto Plain, Japan
Re: Is it genes? on 05/16/2008 23:50:29 MDT Print View

It's partly genes, of course. Like with anything, look around and everyone you know has different abilities according to their individual gifts. But humans are designed for the outdoors and for hard physical endurance. That's in all our genes. Most of us have just not been out there enough and trained hard enough to allow our bodies to develop to that level.

In 1996 my wife and I set out on a 6 month bicycle journey around Europe. We camped every day and spent almost the entire six months out under the sky. When we started we were in bad shape, barely able to get through the first days without giving up early in the afternoons, still far from our daily mileage goals. But as the days and weeks and months passed we found that our bodies hardened and developed resistance to temperatures that we never imagined we'd be able to reach. At the end of six months when we returned to Japan in November and stayed with my wife's parents, we found that we couldn't stay indoors without the windows open, even though it was very cold outside. Our bodies were stronger than they'd ever been before or since.

Bill Merchant has been living outdoor most of his life and had a lot of time to develop both his body and mind, much more than most of us. This alone ensured that he would develop the strength, stamina, and endurance that he has, plus the knowledge and skills necessary to know how to live in the environments he so excels in.

Also, you have to take such articles with a grain of salt. Any time you read words such as "master of the Alaskan wilderness", "I was spellbound", or "coming into his full glory" you have to stop and shake yourself awake. Bill Merchant is just a man, not a god or super hero. The flavor of the article affects the image of the subject as much as the truth of the subject himself, so you are not getting the entire picture when you read such articles. I was the one who recommended the article for the "Classics of BPL" thread the other day, and I still think it is a great article about an amazing man, but it is also important to remember that what he has done is not humanly impossible.

You are an athlete, Huzefa. Just get out there and start training yourself. Acquire the knowledge you need by actually getting out in the field rather than just reading books. You will learn much more and gain the strength you need by being out there. You will also learn your limits, which you can't learn from sitting in front of a computer. You are much stronger than you realize, I think. Get out on the slopes and in the rain and along the trails that go on longer than you thought and keep walking. Your body will refine itself to all that.

I am 47 and for the past few years allowed myself to get out of shape and I also allowed my diabetes to dictate my lifestyle. I began to lose confidence that I could be strong again. Then in January I started training again (with Crossfit ) and have started gaining back a lot of my muscle tone and strength. Yesterday I did 53 pull ups, which I never thought I'd be able to do again. I am running again and this summer I hope to get back up to the more difficult peaks that I'd given up on. If I can do it, so can you! But you have to keep at it and believe in it!

Edited by butuki on 05/16/2008 23:54:38 MDT.

René Jeninga

Locale: Near the coast in the Netherlands
Is it genes? on 05/17/2008 07:22:11 MDT Print View

The human body can adapt to so much more than you think! i have been running for years staying at a certain fitness level, i could run for 1 1/2 hours an that was it. But this year i started training for real! And tommorow i am running a marathon and if that goes well i am thinking of running a ultramarathon. Next to physical fitness the human mind is the most important in succes. just like the Nike slogan "just do it"!

Huzefa Siamwala
(huzefa) - M
thanks guys! on 05/17/2008 09:12:30 MDT Print View

for the positive comments and sharing your expriences. Very encouraging. I will go for a run tomorrow morning..

Miguel Arboleda
(butuki) - MLife

Locale: Kanto Plain, Japan
Re: Is it Genes? on 05/17/2008 09:44:46 MDT Print View

Just one thing... don't overdo it. Listen to your body. If you start to feel a pain that doesn't go away right away you are hurting your body. Start slowly until the muscles are stronger then increase what you are doing. If you are running on concrete and hurting your legs you are either running too far, running with bad form, or using the wrong shoes. Be patient. Your body will develop. It just takes time.

Even for walks in the mountains start with low mountains until you can do them easily, then go a little higher.

As for taking a winter trip without shelter... well, Huzefa, perhaps you should get out there and see what it is really like with more conventional methods before you make such a radical decision. Go camping in the summer and learn what that is about before attempting something as dangerous as winter camping in the snow without proper knowledge. Remember that the knowledge here at BPL is cumulative, a lot of it shared by people who have already had a lot of experience outdoors. Learn why certain methods and gear are used first before jumping in without the experience to go along.

I say this not to discourage you, but to make sure that you are safe. That is more important than anything else. Sure it is exciting to think of the adventure in the mountains, but it means nothing if you don't come home to enjoy it again.

Sarah Kirkconnell
(sarbar) - F

Locale: In the shadow of Mt. Rainier
Re: Is it Genes? on 05/17/2008 19:43:06 MDT Print View

Genes do play part of it but more than that is whether or not you have the desire to keep going when life gets tough.

Something to think about - how do super athletes, say in the Olympics, become super athletes? They train 7 days a week. For hours, all day long. It is a full time job. Body builders do this as well in certain cases. The average person cannot do this. They have things like jobs.

But if they have the mental drive and will to succeed in their goals they have a good chance they can. An average person with daily training can do extreme hikes.

(RobertM2S) - M

Locale: Lake Tahoe
Is it genes? on 05/17/2008 21:15:19 MDT Print View

Immediately start injecting yourself with human growth hormone and anabolic steroids, in massive doses! (Just joking, don't try anything like that or you will ruin your health.)

Huzefa Siamwala
(huzefa) - M
ran today.. on 05/18/2008 01:05:44 MDT Print View

First 15 min medium pace jog followed by 10 mins excercise and stretching. Then contiuned with medium pace jog. After 10 mins the skin below the arch started burning.. It was pretty bad. Then walked for a while till it felt better then did a stretch of running until the burning sensation came back and had to stop. I ran another 5min barefoot on grass and it was ok. I will try out a more padded sock tomorrow.

Anyone got any idea what is wrong?

Thanks again for all the advice and positive comments.