The beauty of the scenery and a sense of being up high seems to be so empowering and gives the mind a freedom in which many other sports do not. Getting away from normality, up into the fresh air of the hills or mountains having a great time and achieving fitness goals at the same time!
The challenge of tough terrain can really bite your mind, but the continuous deep breath needed to endure long climbs, becomes like a mantra, a focus, quietening your thoughts, enabling you to reach peaks with more ease. Equally descending takes great concentration, strength is needed to control deceleration, this can sometimes be more gruelling than the climbs and very tough on the ankles and thighs. Upper body strength is also needed more than people expect in hiking, so bare this in mind when training, try to keep your biceps and back strong ( low to high and mid range cable or dumbbell pulls, bring in a rotation on the trunk to ensure good function.) Poles can be a useful aid too, helpful for the beginner and the more experienced hiker.
What more do you need? The wind is making you feel alive, the cloud formations that you see as the weather changes, its mind blowing! Far away from the stress of normal life well... a good pair of boots for a start! This really is a sport where good quality kit is important; needless to say it’s not cheap! Walking boots will keep the feet warm and dry, minimising the chance of nasty blisters appearing. Layers of clothes are the key for the body, thermal under garments are a must in colder times, prepare for warm cold and wet every time you go, if not you may get caught short making it miserable and even dangerous.
Some useful tips
- Hydration: This is really important so try hiking with a camel pak, the bladders usually hold up to two litres of water. You can also use an electrolyte sports drink to ensure a top up in salts and sugar levels, much more convenient than sipping at a bottle.
- Sun block: Even when it seems cloudy the sun may still be strong, be sure to protect yourself, a good hat and sunglasses will also help
- Navigation: It's advisable to hike with organised groups or at least with someone experienced, a GPS can be very useful to work in conjunction with map and compass too.
- A well fitting bag: Always buy your rucksack from a specialists, choose the right one in size and weight for the type of hiking and for your body. Don't be tempted to buy on line unless you have already tried the bag on, or you know what you’re doing.
- Altitude: Be sure of how high your climbing, and if altitude needs to be considered.
- Health: Make sure that you are fit to climb, you can't just go out there and expect to be safe on a hike without any training preparation.
- Enjoy yourself: Enjoy hiking as a beginner and you will soon get the bug, buying a good tent, camping kit and a four season's sleeping bag may not be that far away. There are many charity hikes around the world that can be a fantastic way to motivate you into training for the ultimate climb, who knows! You may even find yourself booking to hike up Everest base camp or Kilimanjaro sometime.
Rip curl fitness and fun
In huge contrast to hiking, the surf is up this summer as more people are taking breaks in the U.k. Water sports are now a more popular option for holiday fun and keeping fit! I can see why, as the hypnotic nature and movement of the sea is quite awesome and being on your board is a really gripping feeling, it takes all of your concentration and mental focus, it's just you and your board and wait for the wave! Feeling the salt air tighten your skin (when you manage to stay on the board) is amazing, the soft line of the horizon as far as the eye can see.
Surfing is quite a hard sport to learn, it takes patients, guts and good instruction to get you going. Try not to expect too much too soon, its baby steps to success but once you get the hang of it there will be nothing to stop the sea from calling you in!
Wake boarding on local lakes is excellent preparation for surfing, cable tows are a good way to get you comfortable on the water, it is an inexpensive way to try the sport out and the wet suits and boards are normally included in the price. Two hours on the cable is pretty standard and that is quite long enough training even for the fittest wake boarders.
Boat toes are another option, it's a more expensive way to learn but a lot can be achieved in a shorter space of time as the tuition is one to one. Boat tows are usually only 15 minutes long but once you learn to cross the wake it’s a big leg work out that feels more like half an hour. Constant adrenaline can tire you out fast, so remember to top up on fluids to keep you fully hydrated, eat high carbohydrate snacks between sets to keep your blood sugar levels up, drink more if you’re going to make use of the sauna in-between sets you will need it and your muscles will thank you for it afterwards.
Any sport or activity that gets you moving and outside in the summer is fantastic. Try new things, step outside your comfort zone and most importantly HAVE FUN!!!!
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