– the blog –

Training for a Mt. Hood Picnic

Now that I have written up my ideas for A Mount Hood Picnic and posted them publicly, there is more pressure to sit down and work out some manner of training plan.

Strict training plans have never been my forte. When I was doing ultramarathon training back in 2017, I had a rough sketch of the mileage I should be hitting every week and also the length of my longest run for that week. My philosophy is that you should have weekly and monthly goals, but the actual day-to-day plan should be in flux based on soreness, energy-level, weather, and schedule. That flexibility is key to success for me. I know that if I am required to do a certain activity, I will chafe under the strict regiment. My personality simply does not like taking orders, even from myself.

When training for a backcountry triathlon, especially in winter and spring, this flexibility is even more helpful. There are days in Portland when it is 34 degrees and raining, which is simply not going to support a successful long bike ride. Or, we will have a harder than expected bouldering session and need longer than 12 hours to recover before doing our second swim session of the week. Or, friends want to go up to the mountain for a day of backcountry skiing, so we modify the week's plan to support that addition.

Wait! Did he just say bouldering and backcountry skiing? Those are not triathlon sports! What's going on here?!

Our plan includes doing activities besides swimming, biking, and running. We want to keep on bouldering twice a week and skiing a few times a month. Those are activities we enjoy and allow us to spend time with friends. As intense as a picnic will be, we do not want to make the next four months of exercise solely about training for it. That does not seem fun at all. I mean, I have a huge stick up my ass, but not about this.1

Instead, we have a white board with the specific picnic training activities we wish to accomplish each week and where we think they fit into our schedule. This schedule includes rest and easy days, as well as things like core workouts, stretching, and a monthly massage. Even on rest days, I am typically trying to walk a few miles to help loosen up my body and encourage recovery. It is all towards the goal of being ready for a picnic. It is a challenging balance of endurance and strength training, planning, nutrition, recovery, and mentally preparing for that level of exhaustion.

What is also helpful is having intermediate training goals. These are activities that are more than training, they are benchmarks. A way to push ourselves and also test to see how well we are preparing. Below is a list of the ones I currently have in mind, in no particular order. None of these are on the schedule yet, but we have a vague idea where a couple of them might go. Fun!

Double D with a Swim

  • Hike Mt. Defiance: 11.6 miles, 4840 ft
  • Swim across Columbia: 1 mile
  • Hike Dog Mountain: 6.9 miles, 2800 ft
  • Totals: 19.5 miles, 7,640 ft elevation gain

The Back 40 - Hood River to Dalles and Back via Seven Mile Hill

  • Bike from Hood River to Dalles, back via Seven Mill Hill: 40.61 miles, 4,539.0 ft
  • Additions: Include a swim along the Columbia at Hood River or Mosier

Sauvie Island - West Hills Bike Bonanza

  • Start at Sauvie Island parking lot.
  • Bike up and down: Rocky Point, Logie Trail, McNamee, Newberry
  • Totals: 41 miles, 5000 ft of elevation
  • One or more additions: Swim across Willamette, bike loop around Sauvie, Forest Park running/hiking

Double Backcountry Days on St. Helens

  • Saturday: backcountry skin up and ski down St. Helens, camp overnight
  • Sunday: friends join us, repeat skin up and ski down
  • Two friends were interested in St. Helens but worried about being too slow. My wacky solution.

Sandy to Lola Pass Bike with a Hike to McNeil Point and Return

  • 62 miles of biking, 5900ft elevation gain
  • 12 miles of hiking, 3000ft elevation gain

  1. Look, if there is a foot of fresh snow on Friday and we have no plans, we're going skiing. I mean, we're not crazy...