This weekend Dream Challenges took a group of challengers to the stunning Yorkshire dales for trek training. Each attendee is about to take on their dream challenge - be it trekking through Borneo, exploring the GreatWall of China or climbing Mount Kilimanjaro none are a small feat.
The anticipation of what to come and how to tackle their challenge was at the forefront of everyone’s minds. During the weekend they took on two of the three Yorkshire peaks gaining them experience in trekking in a new and challenging environment. This was all with the support and expert guidance of our Mountaineering guru James Hardy.
From Caveman to Arctic Explorer…
I've been involved with outdoor pursuits for over 30 years, climbing, caving, walking etc. My caving experiences go back even further to 1971! I've lived in the jungles of Belize, climbed Kilimanjaro, walked with Masaii across the Rift Valley, climbed active volcanoes, ridden horses in the Wadi Rum, Jordan and dog sledded in the Arctic Circle amongst other experiences. Having now retired from the education environment, I find myself involved with using horses. I help run a company that uses Equine Facilitated Learning to help children develop emotional resistance and also help companies develop their skills more effectively.
My advice to participants going on these big events, both in the UK and abroad is always in three parts:
1. Your equipment: always buy well in advance and wear it in (including rucksacs). It can be expensive, but good equipment will last, poor equipment always lets you down at the worse moment.
2. Your fitness: Walk as often as possible and in challenging situations such as hills and steep ascents and descents. Walk in poor weather, you do not want to find your kit is not as waterproof as you thought. I've walked up Kilimanjaro in the pouring rain. Find people on the challenge who live near and arrange walks together. Keep walking until D day!
3. The Challenge: you will not fully understand the environment you are going to until you arrive. This is the only part you have little control over. Psychologically, you will be ready for the challenge and it's environment if you are comfortable that parts one and two are covered and you are happy with kit and fitness.
- Start your training early…It is never too early to start your training. Or too late!!! If you have 6 months or time has run away with you now only one month to go still time to train. Start to build your strength and fitness gradually, this will allow your body time to adapt – if you do too much too soon you may incur injury.
- If the shoe fits…Good quality and appropriate footwear for your trek and your walking training is essential. A supportive hiking shoe with ankle protection is important but beware of ankle cuffs that are too high as they can irritate the achilles tendon at the base of your calf. Look for an ankle cuff that is scooped away at the back. Make sure that your trekking boots are thoroughly broken in and your feet have bedded in — the time for blisters is now, not during your trek. When purchasing your boots, try to shop in the afternoon when your feet have expanded slightly so that you get the correct size
- The key to success could be your socks…With plenty of footwear focus, it’s easy to forget about the best type of socks to wear. The right boots with the wrong socks will ruin your tekking trip so when trying on boots, wear the same socks that you intend to use for your trek. Look for materials such as Coolmax that has sweat wicking properties or consider the new Gore-tex range that wick sweat away but are also waterproof.
- Build leg strength…Leg strength will be key for your trek so in addition to walking training which will strengthen your legs, try and include either gym exercises such as leg presses and weighted squats, or lunges and bodyweight squats.
- Build your walking training…Walking training will be the foundation of your training program and it is important to build steadily towards the sorts of distances that you will be doing on your trek. Initially, intersperse training days with rest days but as your fitness improves, look to include some ‘back-to-back’ training days, which will more closely replicate your actual trek.
- Train on similar walking terrain...Walking training is essential but it is also important to try and mimic the conditions that you will experience as closely as you can. Try and train on similar terrain to that of your trekking location. For example, for a trek that includes mountain climbing, try some weekend scrambling as part of your training. Also, practice in the same footwear and clothes and experiment with a loaded backpack — it makes a big difference to your speed over the ground.
- Practice using your back pack...It’s likely that you’ll be carrying items such as food, drink, spare clothing and possibly more, so your choice of backpack is important. Look for models with adjustable chest and waist straps so that you can position it correctly on your back and also with external compression straps so that the load doesn’t shift. More specialist types have removable bladders for liquid consumption on the go, but remember that water and washing facilities may be limited, so sterilisation may be difficult. Practice using your backpack (loaded) as part of your training so that you are used to the weight and position.
- Try walking poles...Walking poles may make a big difference to your trek. Lightweight and telescopic, they ease the load on knees and thighs on descents and give you ‘two extra legs’ on steep climbs. They can also be used to help clear vegetation and have numerous uses in a campsite. Definitely one to try.
- Stay hydrated...During your training make sure you are fully hydrated and have enough fluid with you for your planned training trek.
- Stay fuelled...Maintain your energy levels during your training by making sure you snack on fruit or slow energy releasing food to keep up energy levels. Eat a proper meal before and after.
To find out more about Dream Challenges events please visit the website or contact us directly: