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5 Steps to Being Physically Prepared for Your Adventure Tour

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So you signed up for a big adventure challenge, a tour that will test your physical limits and hopefully leave you with memories of blissful triumph, not pain and struggle. You want to be ready so you can enjoy the scenery and not be battling through every step.

Those busy schedules leave us with limited time to train for a trek or mountain biking expedition so we need an efficient, effective plan to focus our efforts.  A trainer and fitness coach, Rob Lockey, has given some great advice to prepare for a cycling tour that is transferable to preparing for a trekking or hiking expedition.  You can check out the original article from Outside Magazine’s website for the cycling advice and here you’ll find the steps adapted for trekking and hiking expeditions:

Step 1: Persistence 

If you had Kilimanjaro on your doorstep you could practice the real thing progressively, bit by bit, until you achieved it.  Unlikely to be the case for any overseas adventure, you’ll need another form of training for your tour.  As mentioned by Lockey in the article, consistency is key and you don’t have to match the exact terrain or distance of the future challenge at hand.  Be persistent with your workouts – daily ideally – and challenge yourself with inclined terrain; it will benefit you even though it doesn’t test your ability to acclimatize to higher elevations.


Step 2: Progression

Build up your weekly total training hours, hiking and jogging, as the tour date approaches.  As Lockey outlines, start a few months prior to departure at about 8 hours per week, with longer hours on weekends, then you can add a hour per week building up to 15 hours per week.  Get out and find ways to push yourself on longer and longer runs, stair climbs and hikes, whether in a natural setting or at the gym.  Adding in a few, reduced “rest weeks” (with about 6 hours per week and softer inclines) and pulling back during the weeks leading up to the tour is important but maintaining continuous activity right up to departure is essential.

Himalayas trekking

Moving through SarPass in the Himalayas. Photo: Chandramohan-Burly-V, Flickr

Step 3:  Intensity Training

Taking Kilimanjaro as the example, it’s one of the more accessible of the world’s major mountain peaks but when you first set eyes on the summit path the steepness may send you into a stupor.  As part of your progressive training, Lockey suggests simulating hills.  For mountain trekking you’ll need to add in steep incline training to simulate the real conditions, via natural hills or by using the stairmaster and treadmill.  Practice being out of breath, while knowing your limits, as the mountain will not be forgiving and will have the extra challenge of the high altitude and thin air.


Step 4: Eat for Fuel, not Fitness

It’s reported that a common performance-deterring mistake is to try to mix fitness goals with sport training and therefore cut back on caloric intake.  Lockey says you need to take in extra fuel leading up to the tour to cover the calories needed throughout the tour; any deficiencies will hold you back from peak performance levels.  Don’t underestimate the amount of calories required to fuel up for a big trek and seek nutrition advice if necessary.


Step 5: Keep Trekking

Once you hit the trail, keeping a controlled, restrained pace will keep you moving towards the summit rather than having to turn around before reaching the top.  The altitude challenge on mountains can hit you unexpectedly if you thought you were in great shape and just try to “macho it up the mountain”, as our friend Linh who has summitted Kili says.  The guides in Tanzania say “polay polay” or “slowly slowly” – take your time and you’re more likely to come out the other end a happy camper.


For the cycling version of this preparation advice, check out this article or read on about the challenges of trekking Kilimanjaro.


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