Seth Keena-Levin

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I began my apprenticeship as a coach under Scott Johnston in 2015 and started coaching my own Uphill Athletes in 2018. I work with athletes who represent a wide range of disciplines and demographics—from alpinists and rock climbers to skiers, runners, and full-time mountain guides to big-city-dwelling business folks on tight schedules. 
Over the years I have had the pleasure to share in many inspiring achievements: a 75-year-old’s Everest summit, a 14-day door-to-door Everest summit, a 7,000-meter alpine-style first ascent, 6,000-meter ski descents, FKTs, and numerous Denali summits, to name just a handful. Equally impressive and inspiring are my athletes who show up and put in the work to improve their Aerobic Threshold, climb their first 5.9 or WI4, realize running when hiking was only possible, or leave Iowa to enjoy Mount Baker rather than suffer. At its core, coaching is a chance for me to expertly engage in a facet of another individual’s physical and psychological growth—what a gift! 
When I was young, running and backpacking were my favorite extracurricular activities. Serious climbing joined running as a passion in 2007 while I was studying for my bachelor of science in biology at Southern Oregon University in Ashland. Technical rock and ice climbing became my primary loves, but I also enjoy long ridge traverses and all types of skiing. During a trip to the Canadian Rockies in 2018, I logged over 22,000 vertical feet and 55 miles in less than five days. At Castle Crags in California in 2004, I completed a linkup of three remote spires, totaling over eight miles and 7,000 vertical feet of technical climbing. My dedication to endurance training’s fundamental principles is why I experience consistent energy and a distinct lack of fatigue during such outings. 
Just as formative as all those big days in the mountains was a recent experience with serious injury and recovery. During the spring of 2017, while rehabilitating a fractured heel, I worked with excellent physical therapists, learned from a community of athletes with histories of injury, and pored over literature on injury and recovery. In order to achieve lasting and minimally painful gains, I had to be creative, patient, and deliberate in my training. Modulation and continuity were crucial to the process. Early that same summer I began running, and a short time later I was climbing 5.12 again. I came back a better athlete and a wiser coach, with a renewed appreciation for the core principles of training.

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