Planning Your Lockdown Escape? Here’s how I'm Building Hike Strength So I'm Ready To Hit The Trails



Keen to escape your lockdown bubble? If you’re in Victoria, I am sure that like many of us, you are planning your escape, eager to get outside, not returning for a few days, or at least take a bloody long hike! An escape into the wilderness, a day and even a road trip, a night in a remote location and only where our feet can carry us, anywhere that is devoid of the same walls and ceiling that we have stared at for the past 18 months.


Perhaps you have no point of destination just an overwhelming desire to be in nature. I hear her (mother nature) calling me too. Her voice is getting stronger each day, calling me into the wild, eager to undo the knots in my psyche, ease the angst and provide space to explore.


Each weekend that passes is a reminder that I’ve canceled trips due to Covid. Hiking the trails of Wilsons Prom or venturing through the Grampians, these trips are going to have to wait just a little longer. It’s important to have something to look forward to, a delayed satisfaction. Planning a trip in the (hopefully near) future is the perfect way to work towards a positive experience and keep you accountable to train for such a challenge.


This week I’ve been planning the epic Great Ocean Walk for 2022. The challenging 110km trail is diverse in landscape, and for me, epitomizes the great escape. Shan and I first took the beast on almost 10 years ago when we started dating. Pretty fit but too smug in our abilities, we disregarded the suggested 10-12km recommendation for daily distance and smashed out 90+km of the track in less than 3 days. We were pretty chuffed with our efforts on the drive home, a little fractured and possibly a few lost toenails on my behalf, conceding that we bit off more than we could chew.



Fast forward a few years and we take pleasure in empowering our clients through the challenges of the trail, with a considered approach. We understand that not everyone shares our masochistic gusto when first approaching a challenge. Our years of experience ensure that you don’t hike 40+km a day and lose your nails, blow out a knee or hobble off vowing to never hike again! We aim to empower and inspire with challenging but achievable hikes and offer our experience, knowledge, and training to ensure that you are well equipped to achieve a great hiking experience.


With any physical challenge, there is equal parts mindset and ability. Both are trainable aspects that if developed prior to the day/ weekend hike make the trip more achievable and pleasurable. In our modern culture of comfort-seeking, the initiation to stepping out of your comfort zone, building mental, physical strength, and resilience can be approached in the following ways:



MINDSET TRAINING


COLDWATER SHOWER/SWIMS


I bang on about this for good reason, they are so profound in their effects that the discomfort of cold water piercing my skin quickly gives way to the flush of oxygenated blood, warmth, and feel-good boost that I acquire afterward. The cognitive benefits are why I do this every day; clarity, focus, memory retention and less stress/anxiety.


Try This: shower as normal and then turn the hot water off and let the cold water run over you. Your initial reaction will be to gulp air and hold your breath. Consciously bring your awareness to your breath and inhale for the count of 4- hold for 4 and out for the count of 6.


Start with short bursts of 10secs then gradually work up to 1 then 2 minutes a day- you can thank me later.

If you’re near the beach, try walking in to shoulder height, or bob down in the water and soak your body for a few minutes in the fresh, salty water.


This will help with muscle recovery too but importantly learning and choosing to be uncomfortable for just a few minutes a day strengthens our mental capacity to face stress throughout our lives- the kind we don’t choose. These exercises create the space between what stimulates/ triggers us, and our response to it, allowing a more considered reaction.


On the trail, this will strengthen your resolves to push up that next hill when you want to submit, to accept the conditions whatever they may be (rain, wind, heat), and continue.


How often do you push yourself out of your comfort zone and try new things?


If not a cold shower, how else can you challenge yourself to move past what you deem comfortable?

Sometimes it can be as simple as committing to yourself. Waking at 6:30 am for a walk each day when you prefer to sleep in. Being disciplined to carry through with your intention rather than cave in and create excuses for your desire for comfort.


PHYSICAL TRAINING


With a 2hour limit to exercise currently in place, you may not be able to get in any significant hikes, even if you are lucky to live near a trail. Fortunately, you needn’t have to necessarily walk for hours to train for a hike. Here’s how I train for a multi-day hike – or even a larger day hike:



STRENGTH TRAINING


Strength training can be done easily at home in lockdown, building your muscular strength and endurance. Building a solid foundation of strength, particularly in our legs is important for long-distance hiking and when carrying a pack. Hiking is also a full-body workout so importantly we need to ensure that we have a strong core and upper body too, particularly if you use poles. These are a great way to activate and help distribute weight through the upper body and poles are useful to relieve pressure from knees on a descent.


Try This:

  • Hill climbs/ staircase; repetitive climbing action will strengthen the legs, as to mimic the undulating hills/ terrain of a hike. Leaning into the hill pivoting from your hips, core switched on and shoulders back (not rolled forward) and a smaller gait (step) will ensure accurate technique. On the decline; leaning backward, shoulders back, core switched on, and again smaller gait as to avoid injury/ strain in the knees. Hill climbs and staircase training repeated is great preparation for multi-day hikes where you will experience more elevation such as the undulating hills of Great Ocean Walk, Alpine Ranges, or Grampians Peak Trail. This training will ensure you have the strength and power to climb those hills will ease.


  • Bodyweight training- no weights required and can be done at home or in the park after a run/walk and include push-ups, squats, lunges, crunches, and pull-ups.


  • Shorter hikes with a loaded pack – depending on the support straps of your pack start with a few 1litre water bottles (2kg then work up to approx. 7/8kg) making sure that you have the pack shoulder and hips straps supporting the weight as to avoid injuring or straining your lower back.


AEROBIC TRAINING


Aerobic exercises are perfect for hiking because they train and condition your heart, providing the stamina to keep going for a length of time. If you’re heading out for a walk, pick up the pace 5-6km p/h and factor in a rest every 30mins for 2 mins before heading off again.


If you are limited for time, try a 30min cardio-based workout like this session;


EXERCISES

Jumping Jacks

Reverse lunge to front knee lift – left side

Reverse lunge to front knee lift – right side

Squats – add pulse

REST – 1min

Lateral jump (side to side)

Mountain climbers

Quick feet/ running on spot

Squat hold with alternating punches


45sec each exercise

15sec rest between

Repeat 3-4 times


Add light dumbbells to create added resistance to this workout


Other aerobic exercises include dancing, walking, bike riding, skipping rope, and boxing. Anything that elevates your heart rate and gets the blood pumping!


AGILITY / PLYOMETRIC TRAINING


Agility training is as it suggests the ability to stay dexterous, agile and the best way to achieve this for the trail and diverse trail underfoot is to incorporate some plyometric training into your schedule.


The fast and explosive action of this style of training builds power and strength which translates to not only endurance on the trail but coordination on challenging terrain (think sand walking, navigating tree roots, and rocky terrain) and the ability to navigate over, under, around obstacles with ease.


Plyometric comprises of various jumping techniques such as:

  • Lateral jumps

  • Forward jumps

  • Hops – think old school hopscotch

  • Sprints

  • Squat switch - jumping on foot in front of the other before returning to the squat position

  • Tuck jumps


Working on power and coordination requires you to move and change the direction and position of your body quickly whilst maintaining accurate technique- it may be challenging to start if you haven’t trained this style before but even more reason to start as it will activate the neuromuscular connection; the signals between your brain and muscles. Building balance and coordination with this style of training, we can strengthen our core which helps to support the body with pack weight on your weekend adventures.

So if you’ve already started planning your escape, dreaming of your first overnight hike or just super keen to hike the day away (not limited to 2 hours) then start first with a little training plan.

Strengthen your body and mind with movement and make your planned escape memorable for the right reasons!


Choose to challenge yourself – start with a cold shower then perhaps take on that hike.


Amanda x




This is for information purposes only and not as a tailored training guide. If you have any health conditions or injuries please consult a medical professional prior to any exercise. Personal training and group coaching are available by contacting amanda@holistichikes.com and is subject to health and fitness assessment prior to any training program.