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How CrossFit Helped With My 29029 Training

One of the things I love most about CrossFit is how it empowers me to take on big challenges. This weekend, I completed the toughest physical challenge of my life—29029 Everesting. CrossFit was instrumental in my 29029 training—but probably not in the ways you’d think!

In this post, I’ll discuss how I prepared for 29029 and the role CrossFit played in my prep. But first, let’s discuss what 29029 is!

What is 29029?

29029 is an endurance challenge where you hike up a mountain the number of times it takes to reach the vertical equivalent of Mt. Everest (29,029 feet).

Events take place at six different ski resorts in the US and Canada (Sun Valley, Jackson Hole, Snowbasin, Whistler, Mont Tremblant, and Stratton).

My event was in Sun Valley, Idaho, where you have to climb Bald Mountain 15 times to reach 29,029 feet (you get to take the gondola down, thank God). Each climb at Sun Valley starts at an elevation of 5,750 feet and tops out at 7,685 feet, which is 1,935 feet of vertical in about 1.6 miles.

The average grade is around 23 percent, topping out at 40 percent during one brutal section known as The Wall.

All told, it took me 24 miles and 35 hours on the clock (including meals, gondola rides, bathroom breaks, and just over two hours of sleep) to reach 29,029 feet.

Crossing that finish line was one of the most emotional, amazing, and empowering experiences of my life! I tear up every time I think of it. And of course, I couldn’t have done it without training.

What Does 29029 Training Look Like?

The AWESOME 29029 coaching staff provides a 20-week training plan that’s unique to each mountain.

All of the plans include a lot of lower intensity cardio, so it’s quite a bit different from CrossFit! You jog, hike, climb hills/stairs, or walk five to seven days per week.

The workouts generally get longer as you progress through 29029 training. Shorter workouts are 20-30 minutes, while the longest ones last 8-10 hours (you only have to do that a couple of times).

There are also a couple of lower-body strength workouts each week to power you up those hills, plus some mobility work to keep the legs, hips, and glutes happy.

For those 20 weeks, I prioritized 29029 training over CrossFit. I did some CrossFit metcons here and there but mostly stuck to the programmed 29029 workouts.

Even though it temporarily took a backseat to other fitness priorities, CrossFit played a HUGE role in my 29029 training (and in my ability to finish).

How Did CrossFit Help with My 29029 Training?

What’s the number-one way CrossFit supported my 29029 Training?

Mindset.

CrossFit has trained my mind (and my body) to do some pretty tough things. Here are just a few ways its done that.

CrossFit Helped Me Trust My Body

Sure, CrossFit helped me begin my 29029 training with a solid fitness base (and glutes that can power up mountains). But there’s more to it than that.

Every single workout I put in at the gym has built up evidence that I’m strong, brave, and physically capable. From kicking into handstands to repping out heavy deadlifts, I’ve learned to trust myself one rep at a time.

I can’t tell you how key that is when you’re staring down your Everest–whether it’s 29029, a different physical challenge, or even something really hard that’s completely unrelated to fitness.

“Don’t Think, Just Jump”

Confession–I hate box jumps. I said what I said.

Sure, I can do them, but of ALL the movements we do in CrossFit, those get in my head the most.

During a tough box jump workout a few years back, I had a moment where I kept psyching myself out. And I finally just said to myself, “don’t think–just jump.”

You can overthink your way out of almost anything. But any time I didn’t want to go out on a training workout, or any time I got in my head and wanted to rest after getting off that gondola, I remembered those box jumps.

I thought to myself, “don’t think–just go.” And I rounded the bend right immediately from the gondola to the start of my next climb.

In an event where every minute counts, repeating this mantra at the end of each asenct arguably got me to the finish line.

The “One More Rep” Mentality

We do PLENTY of AMRAPS in CrossFit–workouts where you get as many reps as possible within a certain time domain.

29029 was basically just one big AMRAP. I had 36 hours to get up that mountain as many times as I could, stopping when I reached number 15.

It can be REALLY tempting to mail it in near the end of an AMRAP, especially when you know you’re not going to complete the target number of rounds or reps. I’m always inspired by the athletes who go all the way to the time cap–the ones sprinting for their barbells with three seconds in a workout to get one last rep.

I saw SO MUCH of that at 29029–people who knew they had no chance of finishing all 15 climbs but pushed to the very end. It was one of the most inspiring things I’ve ever seen in my life–much more so than those of us who finished.

I came pretty close to the cutoff, finishing in 35 hours. Repeating to myself “one more rep” helped me keep going when my body was screaming for me to stop.

Bad Days for the Ego

Coach Chris, the 29029 mindset guru, says that a bad day for the ego is a great day for the soul.

29029 was a reeeeeallly bad day for my ego (and an exceptionally great day for my soul).

Remember The Wall I talked about earlier? The section with 40 percent grade?

I sucked at it. I couldn’t seem to stay on my feet. Even with poles, I kept slipping and falling (and watching everyone else breeze by me). I eventually started bear crawling up it when I fell–it was just too much effort to get back on my feet.

I was SO embarrassed. I felt like an imposter. And then I realized, I’m doing it. I’m still getting up the thing. I’m just finding a different way. It’d be easy to quit, but I’m no quitter.

Anyone who’s ever done CrossFit knows it’s humbling. It kicks your ass and bruises your ego some days, but you battle through.

Those workouts that kicked my ass prepared me for the wall. They helped me silence my inner voice so I could stop panicking and find a way through.

As embarrassed as I was to be falling down all over the place, I’m also the most proud of those moments, just like I’m most proud of finishing workouts that push me to my limits.

Stronger Together

CrossFit is very community-focused. We push each other to be better and lift each other up when the going gets tough.

As a former runner, it took me a while to ditch the lone-wolf mentality when I started CrossFit. I’ll be honest–I didn’t think anyone wanted encouragement from the newest and slowest person there (which was completely false).

I soon realized that cheering the people around me took me out of my head during tough workouts. Encouraging the people around me was just as much for me as it was for them.

So anytime I started struggling on that mountain, I looked for someone who also appeared to need some encouragement, and we’d walk together a bit.

They’d say things like, “Hey Kim–let’s get to that bit of shade and rest.”

I’d say things like, “Let’s try for 20 more steps before we stop to breathe.”

I reached out for support during my toughest lap (number 9) and found it in a guy named Justin, who refused to leave me behind (thank you, Justin). And I paced people when they were in the pain cave, helping them get to the top.

CrossFit has instilled that ethos in me, and I didn’t fully appreciate it until this event.

Summary: CrossFit and 29029 Training

There you have it–five ways that CrossFit helped support my 29029 training, even though I did very little CrossFit in the months leading up to the event.

Maybe 29029 isn’t for you (although I’d 1000 percent recommend it to just about anyone). Perhaps you have a different physical challenge in mind, or you just want to train for anything life throws your way.

CrossFit can help. We can help. The same CrossFit lessons that got me through this race can get you through that 5K, mud run, or even that massive work project you’ve been dreading.

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