There have been countless articles written on outdoor blogs about ways to reduce your pack-weight. There is the popular slogan “Minimum weight, Maximum fun!” that everyone of sound mind adheres to.
I have at times beefed on about the many backpackers who scrupulously drill holes in their spoons to reduce two grams here and cut the labels out of their clothing to shed another gram or two there. They have all been avoiding the elephant in the room, or should I say, the elephant staring out at them in the mirror. What is the point of having all this super-lightweight gear if you are carrying thirty pounds of fat around with you?
Well, of course, carrying less gear does help, but it does make more sense to be a bit slimmer!
After finishing my four month LEJOG, there wasn’t an ounce of fat left on my skinny little frame and I was incredibly fit. Over the last five years though, that fitness has all but disappeared. I have managed to keep the very worst of the burgeoning belly at bay but my fitness levels are generally pretty poor.
The preparations for my annual binge walk (the two week TGO Challenge) generally involve some Sunday walks over the winter period, building up to a couple of weekend efforts prior to the big walk itself. That usually has me just about ready to face my efforts in Scotland. The rest of the required fitness is built up over the two weeks of the walk itself.
Now, this is a shame as it means that clambering up the steep heathery hills all comes as a bit of an effort to this slack-muscled southerner. To make matters worse, this year I have designed a route for the Challenge that is, shall we say, quite a physical challenge. How on earth will I cope?
Serendipity is a wonderful thing. Out of the blue came a book to review from Chris Highcock: “Hill FIt: Strength, the missing element in your training.” It was an Hallelujah moment. You may already know that Chris writes regular articles for TGO on fitness. He also writes a mean blog: ”Cairn in the Mist”
Over the last few days I have been working my way through the book. He starts off explaining, very carefully, why it is important to build up strength, as well as fitness for these outdoor pursuits. He says:
“If you enjoy time walking in the outdoors … and want to enjoy it more, tackling those days with less pain and effort, then the programme I outline in this booklet is for you.”
He goes on to explain how having stronger muscles makes you more efficient and protects you from injury. Increasing your strength also has the added advantages of fighting the aging process, and increasing your health in all manner of ways.
Having got your attention, and ready to holler out “Praise the Lord!” Chris then outlines four very simple exercises (that only need to be performed twice a week; that’s my kind of plan!) to get you up and running and raring to go.
I cannot recommend this booklet more strongly. This is probably far more important than all the weight reducing tips you will ever have read in all the blogs put together. Chris’s simple exercise programme should have you fit and ready for the hill, so that your experience will be one of pleasure rather than one of pain!
You can read more about the book and buy it for yourself HERE It will be the best tenner you will have spent in years.
I am now getting pretty good at brushing my teeth whilst balancing on one leg. Following my first attempt, the bruises are now beginning to fade…