FREESKIER Does the 2019 Power of Four: Part 1, Training

FREESKIER Does the 2019 Power of Four: Part 1, Training

The Power of Four. For some, it represents the pinnacle of ski mountaineering races in the state of Colorado. For many, it seems like a masochistic event that only people with a few screws loose would embark upon. In this instance, the race is a combination of both. And I’m going to compete with good friend and former FREESKIER staffer Nat Houston, beginning at 6 a.m. on March 2, 2019, at Snowmass Resort.

Now, a brutally long tandem ski-mo race—24 miles and over 10,000 vertical feet—probably doesn’t fit under most people’s definition of freeskiing. While that may be true, for me, training for the Power of Four is a great way to get the body and mind ready for spring peak-bagging season, which I do consider part of the fluid definition of freeskiing. By setting a goal of completing the Power of Four race in non-embarrassing fashion—the pro division winners completed the race in just over four hours and thirty seven minutes last year, for reference—I’ve been able to get into pretty solid ski mountaineering shape, which will be a huge boost come the spring backcountry season here in Colorado.

Note: I will not be wearing spandex; I’ll preview my race kit in our next installment, although it might not be a bad idea to take a page out of these guys’ book:

In the first of multiple posts leading up to the race on March 2 (there’s still time to register), I’ll give you a little insight into the training regimen I’ve been on since I decided to compete back in November. Whether you’re training to compete in a ski-mo race (like the Power of Four) or simply looking to get in tip-top shape to tackle big lines in the spring, take a look at some of the regimens below and try one for yourself if you feel so inclined.

In November, when I first decided to compete in the Power of Four, I began a ski-mo specific training regimen formulated by the Alpine Training Center. The Alpine Training Center is located in Boulder, Colorado, and is led by owner Connie Sciolino, whose workouts are praised by many Boulder athletes pushing the limits in the mountains of Colorado and beyond. And if you’ve ever met an endurance athlete from Boulder, you know that any positive feedback translates to a pretty legit operation. Since my schedule is generally jam-packed with time in the office, traveling for work and exploring the mountains, I opted to sign up for a “do-it-on-your-own” workout plan from the Alpine Training Center, using an app called TrainHeroic. See below for an example of workouts that I’ve completed during a normal week of training.

An example of three separate workouts from a typical week with The Alpine Training Center. In short, it’s a lot of cardio, a lot of leg work and a lot of core exercises.

This regimen took me through to about January 1, 2019. After sticking with the plan for about two months, I felt a huge difference. My heart rate during high-stress touring hit the floor, and I was skinning way faster than some of my normal backcountry touring partners, with whom I’m usually neck and neck with on the uphill. I’m also hungry all the time, which is OK since all of this training allows for guilt-free shoveling of delicious food into my mouth. Bottom line: I’d recommend this workout for anyone who already has a pretty good physical fitness base and is looking to take their ski touring and mountaineering to another level.

The Power of Four race map.

Once January 1 rolled around, I wanted to branch out, considering I still had eight weeks before the Power of Four. It was then that I discovered Uphill Athlete, which describes itself as “a platform for openly sharing proven training knowledge for the sports of alpinism, mountaineering, rock and ice climbing, ski mountaineering, ski-mo racing, and mountain running.” The workouts developed by founders Steve House and Scott Johnston are relied upon by outdoor legends like Cory Richards when preparing for gigantic summits in the Himalaya. I’m still in what the routine calls “the building phase,” which includes workouts like the ones below.

There’s no better way to train that on-snow.

Of course, the biggest advantage of having a lot of on-snow training, is getting to ski tour consistently; thankfully, this season in Colorado has been spectacular, leading to days like this:

Photo: Phil Krening

Photo: Phil Krening

Stay tuned for the next installment of our Power of Four preview series, where we highlight some of the gear I’ll be using to train and compete in Colorado’s premier ski-mo race. If you’re keen on entering the race, grab a partner and sign up, here.

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