Professional mountain guide, high-altitude climber and member of the Eddie Bauer guide and athlete team, Melissa Arnot holds the American women’s world record with 5 successful summits of Mt. Everest. A professional mountain guide since 2004, she has guided on 3 continents, summited Mt. Rainier 104 times, and cofounded The Juniper Fund to support Sherpa families faced with climbing tragedies.
Climbing mountains, much like life, is really built on the preparation you put in beforehand. It is something like 5% equipment, 10% luck and 85% preparation. I have been climbing and guiding clients in the biggest mountains in the world for almost 12 years, and if I have learned one thing it is that preparation without measurement – quantification of your training – is somewhat useless.
I often get asked before I begin a big challenge – like climbing the 50 U.S. highpoints in 50 days – if I feel ready. Saying that I am ready and knowing that I am are two different things. Knowing my team is strong and ready is equally important. Having reliable tools to measure this “ready factor” is critical to our collective success.
In the summer of 2016 I will start an amazing adventure of endurance, logistics and mentorship. Along with my partner Maddie Miller, we will attempt to climb to the summit of each state’s highpoint – the 50 highpoints as they are known – in 50 days. I have been training for this challenge for almost a year, and I have also been training Maddie to be as prepared as possible. Maddie is a 21-year-old college senior who has become an amazing partner and friend through this process. But, I have much more mountain experience than she does and so helping her get ready has been the highest priority.
Last July, right before Maddie and I headed to Colorado on a training hike, we started wearing the Microsoft Band. I have used a number of fitness tracking wearables and I was skeptical this would feel any different, but immediately I knew it was. The band is small and wears nicely against my wrist, letting me do what I am out there to do – run, sprint, bike – without further thought. I have found myself acutely more aware of my heart rate zones, as the “always on” pulse display shows my rate anytime.
One of the most valuable tools for training, in my mind, is looking back at how far you have come. In the past 9 months I have run almost 1,500 miles and logged an average of 3 hours a day walking uphill. My heartrate zones have improved and recovery time has decreased. And, the exact same is true for Maddie. We laugh about the workouts that show up as a little lazy and celebrate our new personal bests together. We receive a ‘cardio benefit’ for each exercise recorded, informing us of our cardiovascular fitness levels. This lets us know when we need to push to receive kudos for our work in our workout summaries, so we don’t receive a message that we’re just ‘maintaining’ but ‘improving’. From the Microsoft Health app, Maddie shares her workouts with me so I can track her workouts (including heart rate and recovery time). We live 12 hours away from one another and I have spent the last two months traveling and training in the Himalayas but I always feel like we are able to train as partners.
As we prepare for the adventure of a lifetime, I can look down at my wrist and say I know we are ready. The hard work is nearly done and the fun is about to start. My band just buzzed to remind me that it is time to go for a quick run-so I’m going to check in with Maddie and get going. The band is our third partner on this adventure, and she’s a good one.
10 ways the Microsoft Band has helped me prepare for the Fifty Peaks Challenge:
- Real time checking heart rate during workouts, vital to make sure I’m not pushing too hard (or not hard enough)
- Maddie shares her workouts with me, so I know she is doing the workouts
- Tracking progress on similar courses over time, all my data is stored so I can look back and see my progress
- I log all my workouts into my calendar so I get reminders and I can’t miss a workout
- Checking mileage each day, especially on rest days, helps keep me active while my body gets rest as well
- Mapping! So fun to chart our training courses with GPS and go back and see the elevation profiles
- Quickly being able to see last run on the band, this helps me push my time when needed
- I share my workouts with Maddie, so she can see where I am and what I have been up to, and can even give her ideas if she needs workout suggestions
- We sync our bands with Strava as well, which is really fun so that we can log hikes as well as running and biking
- We are each keeping a log of total mileage and calories burned from the time we started training until the adventure ends! Knowing your data helps you push hard even when you are tired!
We are thrilled to support Melissa and Maddie in this great adventure, and to partner with them to showcase the Microsoft Band.