GET FIT AND WALK THE WALK: Endurance, the Elements and Virtual Trainers
If you’ve signed up for a hiking-centric trip, you probably already know that it’s not going to be a cakewalk. Unless you are on the Charms of Croatia adventure–there’s definitely cake involved there. After exploring the remains of the Samobar castle, the afternoon is sweetened by espressos and slices of the famed Samoborska kremšnita, a traditional custard cream cake sandwiched between two flaky pastry layers.
Come to think of it, you’ll probably encounter the dense delight of the almond tarta de Santiago on the Camino. And some decadent Swiss chocolate in the Alps no doubt–but, let’s keep focussed here!
Back to training. Hiking comes down to endurance and enduring the elements. You must prepare to be uncomfortable at some point. A day on foot guarantees a few things: you’ll be hungry. You’ll be tired. You’ll be too hot, too cold, too wet. You’ll be rewarded with a summit or panorama that will make you forget about it all. With the right socks and footwear, you’re already making strides in the right direction. If you missed our previous guide to finding the best trail runners or hikers for you, it’s here.
The most important thing you can do pre-trip is walk. And walk. And walk. Walk on sidewalks, stone chip paths, dirt roads, boulders, loose scree, root-bound trails. Hop across river rocks. Walk in the rain (it’s going to happen at some point!). Embrace the wind (especially if you’re considering Patagonia!). Test out your rain gear (and hope you don’t have to use it on the trip) and learn what socks (and shoes) your feet love most. You’re going to be on your feet for 6 to 8 hours a day!
We’ve Got Your Back and Backpack!
The bonus of travelling with WWE is that you don’t have to schlep all your stuff on your back on our hiking adventures. However, we encourage you to be mindful of our porters and respect the suggested weight limits when you repack your bags with your essentials pre-hike. Porters are used on the W Trek in Torres del Paine Adventure, Trek to Everest Base Camp and the Inca Trail Trek to Machu Picchu.
On WWE’s three Camino routes, luggage transfer is available between accommodations so you only have to carry your daypack. Be sure to get friendly with your pack too! Carry what you’d realistically pack on a typical day on the WWE trip. Add your rain gear, sunglasses case, water, a snack, SPF, camera or phone, another layer, a hat. Feel that weight on your shoulders–getting accustomed to it will involve some kinks but this is part of the prep work. You want that pack to feel like your favourite pair of jeans!
You can read more about how to choose a daypack here. There’s lots to consider and definitely don’t forget to invest in a snug-fitting rain cover!
Elevate Your Walk!
It’s important to evaluate the elevation of a destination too. On WWE’s Yellowstone Multisport Adventure, the majority of the hikes are less than 8km (5 miles) with a maximum elevation change of 150m (500 ft). Depending on the group’s comfort and activity level, the itinerary can be tailored to include hikes that are up to 10.5km (6.5 mi) long with up to 450m (1500 ft) elevation change. Yellowstone’s average elevation is 2340m (8000ft) above sea level, so this dynamic change is important to keep in mind for women coming from lower elevations. For trips with elevation like this, stair climbing and a treadmill on an incline are your best friend. Here’s an easy tutorial that spells out the math of elevation and how to simulate it on a treadmill.
If you live in an area that barely has a speed bump like me, bench step-ups and walking lunges are awesome ways to build your strength and endurance for hills. Up the ante and wear a weighted backpack while you do it. In prepping for the Camino de Santiago, my wife and I walked over 400km (250 miles) in drenching rain, boot-sucking mud, sizzling sun. We were devoured by mosquitoes. We wondered if we were delirious. We hiked the Bruce Trail, walked down an ATV trail covered in rock that was like walking on rolling golf balls for 15km (9 miles). We walked into “town” for lunch at the pub and back (20km/12 miles). Locals often stopped to ask us if we needed a ride because our vehicle surely broke down. Where could we possibly be going? And where the heck do we live?
Raise the Bar
You have to put in the miles. Or kilometers if you’re Canadian! And, you can have a lot of fun doing it. Taste test a bunch of protein bars while you’re at it. Bars have come a long way–you can buy everything from Hot + Spicy Waygu beef bars to red velvet or birthday cake protein bars.
Is there a local hiking club in your area? Join! Having scheduled group hikes to look forward to will introduce you to new places and conversation and laughs always make the miles underfoot disappear. Plus, you can compare protein bars! Suggest a group taste test on the next hike!
Virtual Trainers and Trailblazers
Sometimes it helps to have someone point you in the right direction and tell you exactly what to do, right? Maybe you’ve been inspired by what you’ve read here but are still unsure of where to start or are worried that your technique is wrong or maybe you’re not challenging yourself enough. If you’re struggling with being accountable and committing to a fitness program, a virtual personal trainer may be your lifeline. At WWE, we love the spirit and spunk of Becki Rupp, a virtual personal trainer and founder of Trailblazer Wellness. She offers adventure-based coaching to boost strength, stamina and most importantly, confidence. Whatever your dream trip or goal is, Becki can customize a training plan for you to make sure you’re ready to kick it. She also offers webinars on increasing resilience + reducing injury risk and how to calculate how soon you should start training before an adventure. New topics are always being added to her archives and cover content like prepping for the Inca Trek and Camino. (*You can connect with Becki on a free 30-minute consultation to determine your needs and aspirations by filling out a brief online form and choosing a time slot).
Remember, all the pre-trip effort you make will add to your endurance and confidence. If a virtual personal trainer is the boost you need, amazing! If thoughts of a protein bar taste test inspire you to hike longer and harder, me too! If tackling a technical trail with the local hiking group or trying a new treadmill incline routine motivates you, it’s all beneficial groundwork for the remarkable trip on your near horizon.
Next in our Get Fit series we’ll address how you can prep for a WWE horse riding trip with hot tips and guidance from our in-house horse expert, Caroline.