You’ve signed up for the trip of your lifetime, a tick on your bucket list. You can’t believe you’ve had the guts to simply sign on the dotted line or clicked ‘book now’ but you have and it’s time to start training but the elation from booking turns into fear of all the hard work ahead of you. Sound familiar?
We all lead busy lives, filling every second with ‘stuff to do’ and it seems these days that if you are asked ‘how are you?’ then the stock answer is ‘oh, you know, too busy’ rather than ‘I’m great!’ In my mind, if you sign up for a challenge, what ever it may be, then you owe it to yourself and your fellow teammates to get fit so finding time is all-important. There are no short cuts to getting fit, you need to put in the hours, however there are some simple things that you can do to give yourself the best chance possible to achieve your goal.
I’m often told on trips ‘I didn’t have time to do much’ or ‘I was fine on my last trip 5 years ago so I thought I would be now’ or ‘it can’t be that hard, can it?’ There is nothing you can do about your fitness when your boot hits the trail but there are lots of things you can do before hand….just stop procrastinating! People seem to spend more time researching kit than they do training, that to me is plain crazy.
Here are a few things that have helped get me from a very unfit exercise shy girl to standing on top of the world which took hard work and dedication but was worth every bead of blood, sweat and tears.
From cycling a bit of Peru in 2004 to standing on top of the world in 2016, is that really me?
Think smart and make time – do a little analysis of actually how you actually spend your time. You’ll find that you spend longer on social media or faffing about than you think. Use the faff time to do something productive and get your body into the shape it needs to be.
Set a plan or get a plan and make time – when I signed up for my first bike challenge with Discover Adventure way back in 2003 I was sent a training plan amongst a host of other information. I looked at it and thought ‘crikey!’ However, I knew that at that time I wasn’t very fit and was starting from a very base level so I followed the training plan to the letter. Yes it was a huge effort, yes it hurt (a lot), yes I made ‘sacrifices’ but I wanted to make sure that I wasn’t trailing way behind or being picked up in the van because I wasn’t fit enough to complete the ride and I didn’t’ want to let myself down. It certainly paid off.
Little things can make a big difference and once again, make time – Doing nothing will get you no where, doing something will get you further, doing a lot will get you all the way. I saw a post today #you won’t get the butt you want by sitting on the sofa! How very true and you certainly won’t get fit by sitting on the sofa either.
- Always take the stairs, never the elevator or escalator.
- When you are brushing your teeth do some squats.
- When you are going up the stairs, take them 2 at a time and then do it again.
- When you walk your dogs put on an increasingly loaded pack and leg weights.
- Go up that hill rather than going around it.
- Get off the bus/train one stop earlier.
- Park the car on the outskirts of town and walk in.
- Get on YouTube and do some yoga, even whilst watching TV!
- Join a walking / cycling / running group, you’ll be more motivated to get out with others.
There are many more ways in which you can increase your exercise levels and every bit helps.
Train for type and make time (!) – your body needs to be used to the exercise you’ll be doing on your challenge so make sure the majority of your training is training for type. When training for the Big E I did a range of things to increase my fitness and strength. I bit the bullet and went to a personal trainer once or twice a week when I was home to increase my strength, it hurt a lot but what a difference Matt at Evolved Health made. I went running up hills which hurt a lot but the majority of the time I was out with my backpack on, Daisy at my side, pushing my body further and further, and yes, it hurt a lot but my body was in tune with what I was going to put it through in the 9 weeks that I spent in Nepal in 201
Get out of your comfort zone (and make time) – if you only train when you feel fresh or the weather is nice and sunny you won’t really know what you can push yourself and kit through. I can guarantee that there will be days on your challenge when you won’t feel your best, you won’t want to get out of your sleeping bag because you’ve had a bad night’s sleep, your feet hurt, your muscles ache and it’s also raining. Grumpsville here we come! Getting out in all weathers hardens your body and your mind and tests your kit, going training when you are feeling tired will get you used to that feeling when you are on your challenge, going out more than 2 days in a row will replicate what you will be doing on your challenge. Getting into that pain cave is great training, go do it! There is a difference between not feeling 100% and training and feeling unwell and training, know the difference and act accordingly.
Don’t take shortcuts (and make time) – Difficult is good, difficult makes you stronger. Don’t make it easy because easy won’t get you fit. Rolfe shouted down to me whilst taking this picture ‘What are you doing?! Walk in my tracks, it’s easier! All the climbers of the world will be looking at this thinking you are a chump!’ My reply ‘Easy won’t get me Denali fit’ along with ‘All the climbers of the world will definitely not be reading my blog!’ By making my own tracks I was making life harder for me here to make it easier for me on Denali (it is all relative!) and on Denali I will be following the tracks.
Go on a training weekend (make time!) – You are investing in the success of your challenge by spending 2 days in the company of others in a similar position to you and with experts. You can actually save yourself time and money too. By talking through fitness and training and also going out on the hill during the weekend will give you an idea of where your fitness lies in relation to where it needs to be. You’ll make new friends/contacts and go away more motivated to keep going. Funnily enough I am involved in one such TrepPrep weekend with The Fresh Air Learning Co. At just £134 for 2 1/2 days of information and advice, it’s a steal! Click here for details.
In essence, you really need to make time to train. As mentioned above, there are no short cuts to getting fit and getting challenge ready. By being physically fit you will be much more mentally prepared and arrive at the start of your challenge more relaxed and ready to enjoy this experience of a lifetime.
Next stop on my 7 summits quest – Denali! Fund-raising for children’s mental health charity Place2Be. Click on the tabs above to see how you can come around the world with us!
Do or do not, there is no try (Yoda)
Next month’s I’m often asked – how this bonkers journey of mine all began!