The Stairmaster tried to kill me and other tales from a newly minted gym rat.

Please donate to my 3rd Harbor to Harbor Adventure HERE. Thank you 🙂


When the hairbrained looney tunes drunken errr….wait no, INSPIRED notion to do both the 2018 Project Athena Harbor to Harbor adventure AND the 2018 Grand Canyon Rim2Rim2Rim adventure hit me, the next thing I thought was “Who are you? WTF?!” OK, so the NEXT thing I thought was…”you need to uplevel your fitness game sister”

It’s been fine and dandy that you walk all these miles with this weighted backpack on your back and that during training you follow their plan and mix it up with yoga and some squats and lunges and such, but let’s be real….by body was beat UP after both the 2016 and 2017 events.

A lower back thing developed. My IT bands barked. My hips were filing severe protests and my neck wondered if it could sign up for a body switch.

Being someone who has always been willing to seek any form of professional help I need (yeah, yeah, I know, a psychiatrist is what you are thinking…ha ha.) I have a chiropractor, acupuncturist and massage therapist on my support team this time around. All acquired after the 2016 event, but perhaps not utilized as effectively as I could have for the 2017 event.

A few things were better. The neck situation is healed. The IT bands were not as issue this year at all. But the back and hips were still A Thing. And, they were still A Thing even 2 months later when the Resting Period had started.

I talked to my chiropractor and he said two things “get to a gym and get serious about weight training and get a massage at LEAST once a month, preferably twice to release the tension and inflammation in those areas”

Massages? Yay! A gym?  Ugh.

I mean, it’s easy. We have one at work. It’s free. It’s right there. It’s fully stocked and quite honestly barely used. But I really really don’t like gyms especially when it is just me working out alone. In a group setting like we would do some years ago with a trainer doing circuits? Awesome! Me, just hopping on and off machines I don’t know how to use for sure? Ah…no. I’d rather go walk or run 5 miles in the sunshine and beautiful scenery.

But doc wants me getting my aerobic exercise in other forms that don’t use my leg muscles in the same way every time. Variety he says. Fine.

Then I look ahead at the training plan for the Grand Canyon. This thing called a StairMaster is mentioned as a decent substitute for actually climbing mountains. We have one at the gym at work. No excuses woman, work it into your schedule.

And because I AM pretty damn good at structuring my time and putting my head down and doing something when I commit to it – I committed to 3 gym workouts a week. 30 minutes of aerobics rotating each day from the recumbent bike, to the elliptical to the StairMaster. Use machines I am familiar with from circuit training for a strength circuit after. Still also walking 10 miles a week if time permits. I figure this will get me into a good BASE level of fitness to handle the backpack and the climbing that both events require really without having the residual lower back and hip pain.

So the strength stuff is going great. I do some arms, upper back, chest, and leg press rotations. And I like them. I mean, I really LIKE them. I’ve got my podcast list right where I like it and that keeps me going.

Then I got on the StairMaster the first time.

First of all, even with the little side mount steps that’s a HIGH first step AND your legs are awfully wide apart. I didn’t do TOO badly getting up on it though despite juggling my phone/headphones, water and a towel. Got myself situated and programmed it for 20 minutes with a 5 minute cool down for the first time. Started it at level 3 and finally settled in around Level 5. Climbing stairs is a funny thing, too slow and you are just prolonging the agony. I’d rather get myself in motion and keep going.

Only on this machine you don’t GO anywhere which is true of all gym equipment, but psychologically this one seems the hardest to work through. Even with an entertaining podcast in my ears, I *struggled* to no be checking the time constantly. And you CANNOT zone out like you can on a bike or even the elliptical. You zone out and you are on your ASS because you missed a step! No, I am conscious of every laborious step. But I get through it. Cursing a lot, but I do it. And then..well…then…you have to get DOWN.

Um….that high first step with the wide stance placement? Try navigating back to it with super fatigued legs. It was not graceful. There was a misstep and then a rather frantic jump backwards directly down onto the floor bypassing the little transition step entirely! Water and key card and towel go flying. Phone was in a pocket so it was safe 🙂 I was deeply grateful for the fact that the gym isn’t sure that much because the only other person there was in the weight room so didn’t witness that awful dismount.

I’m sure he would have scored it a 3. Mostly because I did stay at least land on my feet.

Gosh I’m looking forward to many more hours on THAT contraption while training for the Grand Canyon!


(your generous donations will ease my wounded ego should I have any further issues with the damn thing)


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