I joined a gym almost a month ago, in part to help me train for the Two Moors Way hike from 19th to 25th July and in part because my skirts were too tight. I've been a bit half-hearted about going, and I know from the experience of my Gold Duke of Edinburgh's expedition (55 miles in 4 days, with full kit weighing approx 35-40lbs) that hiking is No Fun if you're not physically prepared. I also know that at the moment, I'm subconsciously dividing life into Before Finals (last exam is 10th June) and After Finals, so the 19th July is not only firmly After Finals, but is a whole month afterwards, so feels too distant to motivate myself to go the gym this week, or next, or probably the week after that.
So, I signed up for the Cotswold Way Challenge, hiking 13 miles on 19th June. I'm doing it with a full pack, because I could hike the route tomorrow if I weren't carrying any weight. I could even, probably, hike the route with a full pack through sheer bloodymindedness, but I wouldn't be able to do anything for a day or two afterwards! To stave off the temptation to resort to determination, I'm hiking the Malverns the following day, covering approximately 10 miles along the spine, also with a full pack. And then I'm going to go the gym the day afterwards: on past long distances hikes I've discovered that day 1 isn't too bad, day 2 is horrendous and day 3 is the beginning of the currve for my body into "Ah, right, you want me build muscles? Ok, I can do that." and it starts to become fun again.
Just to remind my body what it's supposed to be doing, three weeks after that I'd going to hit the gym on Friday, go to the Peak District, the Lake District or the Breacon Beacons that evening, do two full day hikes with kit aiming for 12-15 miles a day, then come home and go back to the gym on the Monday. Two weeks after that, I start the Two Moors Way for real. These two training days, and three or four of the Two Moors Way ones will count towards the 20 Quality Mountain Days needed to attend the Mountain Leader (Summer) course. I'm determined to rack up at least 10 this year, so between these & the 5 or so from previous years, I'm well on the way to meeting that target.
Meandering back to the point - my hiking navigation is better than this, I swear! - I discovered a new machine in the gym today. I'd been toddling along on the rowing machine and the elliptical (cross) trainer, burning around 350 calories in half an hour but not really feeling like I'd done anything. Today, I noticed a Summit Climber, much like one of these. And boy, was it hard work! The calorie counter reckoned I burned approximately half what the elliptical trainer claims, but I'm sure it was much, much harder work. And, it targets all the muscles groups that you use when,well, climbing summits really. I've booked a fitness test & training programme creation session for 9am Friday morning (Yuck. What was I thinking?!) so hopefully I'll persuade the trainer that the Summit Climber should feature heavily in my programme.
On a final note, I realised that if I'm hiking up a hill as steep as that machine was simulating, I stop every 10 mins or so to catch my breath. The programme didn't allow me to do that, and forced me to keep going. I guess if I get used to 30min programmes, actually climbing a hill with breaks will seem like a doddle. That's the theory at least...
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