Hiking trips are physically demanding and require certain amount of preparation. Although your overall attitude makes all the difference on any rigorous activity like hiking but preparation helps a lot. Let’s warm up first: Planning for your first hiking trip? Let me guess the thoughts running through your head.
1. I have never done it before; will I be able to do it?
2. But I am not physically active and I think it’s not for me. Since I have registered I have to do it somehow. Looking for your friend who talked you into signing up for this?
3. I have an office job where is time for preparations, jo hoga dekha jayga, I have paid the money now.
4. But I don’t sit idle, keep on doing something, commute 2 hrs a day, that is enough to get me through it.
5. Well I started doing something about preparations but something came up and I had to stop it blah blah blah.
6. A night before, “Yaar I haven’t worked out for a single day, I think I should drop out”.
Well there are many more but these are some of the common when you are doing it for the first time and believe me this all is your own creation in your head, it’s not real.
Why you need to prepare yourself: Now any able bodied person who can walk on his two feet, can breathe normally in day to day life and is reasonably healthy can go for a trek. Wipe it off from your head forever “whether I’ll be able to do it or not”. Everybody lives and what makes the difference, How You Lived? Same is with hiking or for that matter for everything you do. Imagine a situation, trek has just started and 15 minutes after your lungs are crying for oxygen, knees are giving in to negotiate even small pebble sized rocks, but you showed some heart and determination and finally saw through the 6 hrs hike according to you but couple of guys your age & health were there two hour earlier chilling out, having coffee, taking photographs and talking about the views, the peaks, the valleys, waterfalls etc etc. You overhear that and say What?, what these guys are talking about - some other trek or are they already smoked up, I didn’t see any of these. These guys are not wrong. So what happened, you didn’t see any of these just because you did only three things.
1.Head hung, dead focused on your feet or barely a couple of meters away.
2. Looked at the sky to catch a breath, cursing yourself why you came at all and just focused on finishing the day somehow.
3. Keep asking the guide “ Bhaiya kitna aur reh gaya” (Brother how much is left).
None of this could have happened had you prepared yourself and I am not talking about training to be an athlete just a tiny bit. Why you need to prepare? so that you can enjoy the trek and not simply get through it somehow.
Enough of Gyan let’s talk about the preparation.
If you can't measure it, you can't improve it. - Peter Drucker
A little bit of Anatomy- I think we need to know where to start our workout from. For trekking all you need is capacity in your lungs and strength in your legs, now both of these are pretty obvious but let’s gets into more details, when you are doing any strenuous exercise your heart starts beating faster to supply more oxygen to those starving cells, so it pumps more blood which circulates through the lungs where oxygen is transferred to the blood. That means you should work on both your heart and lungs but the good news here is that heart is a pumping device and if you are not suffering with heart disease it can pump the blood at a faster rate on its own but the real problem is with the lungs. You need to work on those, they have to be trained to hold more oxygen and at a faster rate. Legs like lungs have to train to take that strain of walking all day long which you haven’t done since childhood (lucky we had childhood when video games were rare and playground we used to have was real not virtual).
What do you need: First of all You need to measure your current state whatever it may be. You need a Stopwatch (in your phone off-course), DME (Distance measuring Equipment) a lot of apps are available these days which you can download from app-stores, running shoes (even 80 Rs canvas shoes will do) & above all Will to continue and improve. Below is the schedule put in tabular form. This schedule is your personal and doesn’t depend on where you begin from, what matters is where you reach at the end of this journey.
X – It’s the distance you walk on day 1 according to your ability it may be 200 m, 300 m or 2 km.
The result at the end of 3 weeks is bare minimum that you should be able to achieve, if you surpass it before end of 3 weeks don’t stop there, keep on improving. At the end of day it’s mental toughness that matters most on a trek, where you cover distance which looks unachievable in the beginning with just one step at a time.
Don’t overstretch yourself and it’s best if you do yoga postures and pranayama under expert supervision. Please consult your physician before taking up these exercises if you already have some medical condition.