Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Getting into Shape for Back Country Hiking and Paddling Adventures

Getting ready for a wilderness adventure but wondering whether you're up for the challenge? No one wants to cut a trip short or slow his fellow adventurers down. Ensuring adequate fitness for our sport will increase our enjoyment, minimize feelings of uncertainty, and reduce aches and pains.

Our level of fitness and the intensity of the trip we're preparing for dictates the time and effort required for getting in shape. Our goal in preparing should be to work our way into activities that mimic our sport. As always, step one should be to check in with our doctor before kicking off a new fitness program.

Where to begin depends on our level of fitness. We are the best judge of how many city blocks, passes around the track, or miles to start with. This is the recipe I follow when preparing for hiking, paddling, and backpacking trips:

  • Start out walking and hiking short distances, then gradually increase in duration and intensity.
  • Visit the gym 5 days per week for strength training and cardio workouts. 
  • Take practice hikes of increasing duration with a filled pack to prepare for backpacking trips.
  • Wear trip shoes or boots on practice hikes and even around the house to reduce blistering and discomfort on your trip.

Overcoming my own period of unfitness for outdoor adventures taught me staying fit for the wilderness is worth the time, effort, and early morning trips to the gym. I intend to hang onto my outdoor lifestyle for many years to come. When it comes to making changes, starting small outshines never starting at all. Small daily choices yield big long term results.

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