Wilcox BOSS-Xe

Corps Strength – Setting up your Base Camp

When attempting a climb on any of the world’s high peaks, there is always a well established Base Camp. This is a fairly high place that serves as the last large logistical point for a climbing team. It’s also the place where the trekking/hiking stops and the true mountaineering begins. Many of these places are themselves a tough physical challenge to get to. Just for one example, the Mt. Everest Base Camp sits at 17,600 ft and takes a hard week of trekking to get there, (Been there, done that, felt like shit there and loved every second of it). Establishing a solid base camp of health and fitness is kind of the same thing. In this case it means maintaining a well-rounded level of conditioning that can allow you to easily step up to some specialized (harder), training in preparation for a specific event, or activity. Simply put, you get yourself to a fairly high level, but it’s something you can do and then maintain without killing yourself.

I’ve put this to the test many times in my own life as I’ve channeled my lifelong ADD from one sport and outdoor activity to another. I had my high school sports years, then came my Olympic and Powerlifting phase. A few serious years of boxing, then martial arts. Later I was big into endurance events, completing lots of marathons, triathlons, cycling and other races. After that I got my adventure race fix and all along the way hiked, mountain biked, canoed, scuba dived, backpacked, kayaked, skied, road dirt bikes, hunted, fished, etc, etc, etc. Now for the past few years it’s been climbing, both rock and alpine. My poor wife is used to these every changing obsessions and asked me once when I was signing up for the Mars mission? Well……..

In any case, during this hyperactive race through life I was also serving as a Marine, doing typical Marine stuff, deploying and working a lot, with much of it around the world and aboard ship and as you well know, being a Marine has its own physical standards and time demands. Plus, being married with a family, my recreational interests took a back seat to my service and family (who would be glad to tell you how I drug them along on way too many of these things). Meaning that most of time that I wasn’t seriously training for any specific thing. So what I always did and still do during these times, was fall back to my own fitness Base Camp. I have a basic routine that I developed over the years that always kept in me in great all around shape. From that when something caught my interest (and I had the time), I already had a great base of fitness that I could quickly jump right into a harder, more specialized program. This is my basic program that I can maintain (just about indefinitely), without much mental effort, special gear or a big time investment. The fact is I could just follow my basic plan and without any specialized training and be able to do almost anything (most sane adult stuff), I would want to do and perform at a very good level. I know this because I’ve done exactly that, many times in fact.

Everyone has different interests and desires as far what they choose to do in their off time. For those of us that like to do different sports and outdoor activities, you know you need to be in at least decent shape to really enjoy it. I know some of you pursue your own interests very seriously, dedicating many hours of intense effort. I have friends that invest many hours every week preparing for their sport, while others like a more casual approach. In any case being fit is important. In my book Corps Strength I lay out the base camp routine I have used for many years. It has served me (and many others) well for a very long time and around the world. From that base I just add and/or subtract what I needed for more specific needs. For a simple example, as I prepare for some up coming mountain climbs, I have increased the weight of my training pack and the amount of stair climbing and hiking I do each week and due to the zero time equation of training, reduced my bike riding. The point is that for me to go from my basic fitness level to the specialized fitness I need for climbing will be quick, without injury (hopefully) and frankly, seamless.

On the other side after I complete an event, like when I came back from Nepal last spring, I just ramp down to my base camp routine to recover, yet remain in excellent condition. The fact is you need to cycle your training up and down from peaks to recovery, otherwise you’’ll just burn out and/or get injured. BTW, I follow my base camp eating plan all the time, I just eat more of the same stuff when I’m training harder and less when I’m not. The bottom line is if you want to participate in a variety of sports and outdoor pursuits, you need to have your own base camp fitness plan to keep you fit and ready between more specific goals. Mine has worked well for many people as well as myself and it’s easy to tailor it to your own needs and desires. In any case using my plan, (or your own) will give you that solid base of fitness you need to be ready for anything that comes your way. Because something new, fun and challenging is always out there and when it comes your way, you want to be ready.

Till next month: “Be safe always, Be good when you can.”

Semper Fi


One Response to “Corps Strength – Setting up your Base Camp”

  1. Fred Stammer says:

    Great article about cycling routines to your new goal but maintaining your base routine.
    Also, outstanding point about food intake. If you’re not training as hard or burning as many calories alter your diet.

    Semper Fi