Matt and Sean Climb Mt. Olympus

By Matt Alford A long-time client passed me in the gym today.

“Hey Matt, I was wondering if you still work here!”

Yes, it is true that I have been out of the gym quite a bit this summer, but for good reason. I have been out expressing my fitness!

Expressing your fitness you may ask? Let me explain.

In October of 2002 the Crossfit Journal published an article titled What is Fitness? The text does a magnificent job of explaining the founding principles of Crossfit and establishing a working definition of fitness around which Crossfit programming is based. If you have never read the article, you ought to as it clearly lays out what Crossfit training aims to achieve.

The article also proposes a five-tiered Theoretical Hierarchy of Development of an athlete. The foundation of the model is nutrition and moves to metabolic conditioning, gymnastics, weightlifting, and finally sport.

While CrossFit has grown to a sport within itself, the training modalities were originally developed as a means to improved performance in other athletic pursuits. Sport is the ultimate expression of a fit athlete and performance outside of the gym was the reason I was drawn to Crossfit in the first place. Last summer I got this crazy idea that I would climb Mount Olympus, the highest peak in the Olympic National Park, fully self-supported using nothing but human power. The physical challenges of the task include a 200-mile bicycle approach, an 18-mile hike in to base camp, and a 3000-foot glacier climb to the summit; the halfway point.

Ten years ago I would have been cocky enough to try to pull this off without training, but two knee surgeries and plenty of long-term inflammation injuries have cured me of such delusional thinking.

While I would like to say that swinging kettlebells and doing pull-ups transferred to the endurance demands associated with being on the move for seven strait days, it would not be the truth. In fact, the bicycle was my primary training tool for the adventure. Over the past year I have logged between 250 & 350 hours in the saddle.

I have always felt that the bicycle is a great training tool, but cycling alone did not meet the fitness demands required for this type of adventure. Wanting to bypass 11 shoulder-less miles of Highway 101 around Lake Cushman, I took a chance that a hiking trail around the North side of the lake would be ride-able. For the most part it was, but I couldn’t help but think about heavy tire flips, sled pushes and deadlifts as I pushed my 80-pound bike up and down slopes of loose rock for a mile. I am strong in the middle and all the cycling in the world wouldn’t do that for me.

I came to Crossfit Seattle seeking the training that would make me a better athlete, and without a doubt I can say I found what I was looking for. I am a stronger, more flexible, more agile, balanced and coordinated than when I walked through the front door four years ago. Most importantly I am more injury resistant!

CrossFit Seattle has been key in helping me meet my fitness goals and we can help you in meeting yours as well.

A special thanks to Sean for being a great partner on this trip. More misadventures can be found on my personal Blog at