Mountain Grit: Training for the long haul


The Simple 7 Buckets That Build My Buffer:
Suppleness-Stability, Speed, Skills, Strength, Stamina, Specificity, Spirit
“We are only as free as the environments we can move in, with confidence and competence.”

Lose confidence [from a near-fall] or competence [it’s too hard], and we will inevitably shrink our movement sphere. FEAR of falling can be more limiting than the fall itself.

FALLING is NOT part of aging. We all know folks who still get after it, doing what makes them ‘tick’ well into their 80s and 90s. Yes, there is luck, and some genetics, too, but only 25% at most. The key is a grit mindset of battling prolonged sitting, couching and screening.

Bucket #1b The Ground Game

This column will check our ground game, that ‘baby bucket’ of movements developed before we toddled around. Have we preserved the rolling, crawling, kneeling, squatting and getting up, that prepped us to play?

We adapt to what we do or don’t do. If we rarely crouch, crawl, sit X-legged, or kneel, we will adapt. Unless I am forced to the ground via hobbies, chores and training, I just don’t go there. If I haven’t been down in years, can I get there? Or if I unintentionally end up there, can I get back up?

I am not talking about motor skills learned during youth, like riding a bike or downhill skiing. Motor memory is a real thing. Once it is imprinted, barring major illness and injury, we will be able to perform that skill. Maybe not as well, but it’s doable.

Ponder these scenarios.
I picked up a sliver in the bottom of my foot. Can I grab my foot and look for the sliver? I need to wrap gifts on the floor. Can I do it for 30 minutes with no problem getting up? My wedding ring rolled under my bed. Can I lay on my belly and get it?

Why should I care?

• If I can get down and up from the ground IN CONTROL with as few contact points as possible, my suppleness, stability, coordination, balance and strength are pretty good.
• Sitting X-legged on the ground shows suppleness [mobility] in my hips, protecting my spine and knees.

• Rolling over and crawling show a decent link between my shoulder and hip girdles.
• If I fall, I will have the ability to get back up, on the trails, snow, ice, skis, in the river, or wherever else I choose to move.
• Keeping this ability helps me dodge and delay disability and dependence, and the need to ‘hire out’.
• Knowing I CAN, boosts my confidence and freedom to continue living my mountain lifestyle, thriving in my current home, and enjoying the activities that make me ‘tick’, adding purpose, relevance and vitality to my life.

Since the Suppleness Bucket #1a column, any progress? Nailed the ‘8’ yet? If not, stay the course.

Now, it’s ground game check-up time. Choose an appropriate surface.


YES [1 point]: I did it automatically with ease

NO: I struggled, felt pain, had to think too much

I CAN ...

1. Get down on the floor, using 0-2 points of contact [hands-knees] in control; no PLOPPING!

2. Sit cross-legged for 15 secs without hunching.
3. Un-cross my legs and CRAWL forward and back 6X each direction.
4. Lay on back with arms overhead.

5. Roll right, on to my belly. Roll back.
6. Roll left, on to belly. Roll back.
7. Sit up.
8. Stand back up, using 0-2 points of contact.

BONUS: Perform one FULL Turkish Get-Up with my shoe on my fist? Not sure what it is, NBD. If you scored ‘8’ above, the TGU is in your wheelhouse.

Scoring for Bucket #1b:


8+ holding your own, and denying the slide.
4-7 some kinks in the chain; have started to slide, reverse course now. 0-3 multiple kinks in the chain; it’s never too late to start the re-learning journey; be sure to EASE* back in.

0-3 multiple kinks in the chain; it’s never too late to start the re-learning journey; be sure to EASE* back in.

*Remember the analogy of the rusty bike sitting idly outdoors for years. Before I hit the trail, I lube it up, work the oil into the movable parts, check the tires and the brakes, and test it out on a smooth level surface. It’s the same for my body, my vintage vehicle

Common Sense Solutions:

KEEP this ability! Lay around on the floor. Sit and crouch in a variety of ways. Cross-legged is NOT mandatory, and neither is putting your leg around your neck.

At HOME, do physical chores, tasks, in and outdoors that force you to crouch, kneel, sit and get up and down. Crouch or 1⁄2 kneel when tying shoes. Get down and play with pets and kids. KEEP doing those jobs, like scrubbing a floor, detailing a car, gardening or ‘tinkering’.

At WORK, seated and stuck to a screen? Every 30 minutes, stand up, walk around, take stairs, stretch, reach, arch, bend, squat and rotate away from the chair. Read something screen-less, while sitting on the floor. If the screen is killing you, consider a physically active vocation change. Doing hard physical labor daily with a lot of up-down ground time? LESS is more. Soft tissue work [foam rolling] and stretching at the end of a hard day can enhance recovery, and extend work longevity.

At PLAY, backpack, camp, paddle or sail. Ride any board or ski. If and when we go down, it’s a MUST to get back up.

In TRAINing, fix what needs fixing. Consider a DAILY practice of breath work, bending, and rotating into and out of positions that are ignored. Yoga, martial arts, Pilates, other mind-body blends, foam rolling and stretching get us to the floor.

Dead bugs, bird dogs, bear crawls, bridges, planks, chops/lifts and carries are exercises that target the core.

To synchronize the moving parts, perform a variety of get-ups and downs: 1⁄2 kneel, tall kneel, partial, paused, and full Turkish get-ups [TGUs]. Start with body weight and own the movement. Then add variety and resistance as technique is mastered.
Put a competition on your calendar, and train for it.

A TRAINING BENCHMARK: OWN and KEEP the kettlebell TGU; 20%-30% of bodyweight for 3 consecutive reps/side is a pretty darn good KEEPER.

If you are not sure where to start, seek out a movement professional that can safely and strategically get you on your way. Join small and large group training sessions remotely or live.

In closing, ponder this: It’s never too late to change .... So change now, and reap the gains!”

Next up on GRIT:
Bucket #2 Speed and Spring In Our Step



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