contributed by Shane Borza, MHR & ICF Certified Coach

I have been a mountain athlete most of my life and, regardless of whether that was as an enthusiast, professional, or semi-pro, I have accrued many lessons. What are some of them and how can they help you? Well, when I look back I see both positives and negatives. And I would respond with that query above with one of my own – how can you apply the thoughts below to yourself and your situation?

The Positives:

  • Accrued Experience: Remember the old adage; “Experience comes from good judgement and good judgement comes from bad experience.”
  • Perfected Skill Sets: Through various training, jobs, certifications, teaching, learning from partners, schools, programs, and first hand knowledge
  • Tested Systems: The real world lets you know what works best in a worst case scenario
  • Forged Lifelong Relationships: Black Diamond put it best in one of their ads in the 90s ”Of all the bonds we’ll create in life, it’s the relationship that requires no more work than to pass along the end of a rope and say ‘your lead’ that makes this sport, this lifestyle, this philosophy called climbing, so powerful.” Amen
  • Amassed Diet and Exercise Programs: Literally thousands of each – too many? Perhaps…
  • Had Un-replicable Experiences: Get outside and find yer own!
  • Surpassed My Limits: And surprised myself with my ability to adapt and evolve
  • Dialed In My Gear: Regardless of brand, size, fit, color, recommendation, shape, reputation, etc
  • Learned Leadership Skills: These practical lessons helped me in various occupations, remember, outdoor leadership is essentially ‘field management’
  • Had a kick-ass time!

The Negatives:

  • Overtrained on a continuous basis
  • Fell into the ‘more is more’ trap
  • Replicated things my coaches and ‘experienced people’ told me as gospel
  • Compared myself, my body, and my ability(ies) to others
  • Leapt from one thing to the next in a continuous search for ‘newer and better’ ways to train and improve without committing to any one thing long enough for it to work
  • Continued to work ‘harder’ and ‘more’ instead of ‘smarter’ or ‘better’
  • Adapted to injuries – which in turn created more injuries – rather than take time off
  • Tunnel-visioned into certain movement patterns and exercises which led to imbalances and, in the long run, injuries, poor performance, and movement and mobility problems
  • Cycled between injured, sick, or exhausted and ‘making up for lost time’ by training twice as much and/or twice as hard
  • Spent years obsessing about numbers and the clock instead of enjoying myself, my surroundings, and those around me

I hope you can reflect on these and find some wisdom, or at least some new insights, to what you are trying to improve on.


The above is an excerpt from my new book Total Mountain Fitness. If you found this helpful and would like to receive the free ebook version, please sign up here: