Advice for out-of-shape trekkers
Are you dreaming of going on a trek but don’t feel your fitness is up to scratch? Check out our top tips for out-of-shape trekkers and people who aren’t used to trekking.
1. Give up your preconceptions of what makes a trekker.
We’ve got a little secret for you: not everyone looks like the svelte trekkers in the advertisements. Just as every trail is different, so is every hiker. You don’t have to have 10 years experience trekking to join many of our treks, and we certainly don’t expect you to be a top athlete. Hiking is a universal sport for anyone who wants to connect with nature and combine exercise with achievable challenges, which means that people of all body sizes and abilities can embark on a trek – provided some sort of training is done to condition the body and minimise the chance of injury.
If you’re new to trekking, let us put your mind at ease; all trekkers can feel uncomfortable and awkward while hiking. After all, that’s what it’s all about; taking yourself out of your comfort zone and into environments and along trails that are unfamiliar, exciting and different to your normal life. So we say; embrace the difficulty! When you’re on a trek, take as many breaks as you feel you need. Taking the time to catch your breath gives you an excuse to stop and admire the scenery more, appreciate the environment and be ‘in the moment’ out in the wilderness.
2. Hike often.
If you’re unfamiliar with trekking, the best piece of advice we can give you is to get out of your comfort zone and onto the trail. The more often you go for day walks, the more comfortable you’ll feel on a multi-day trek. You’ll find yourself becoming more confident walking on uneven surfaces, in variable weather conditions, and dare we say it, you could even look forward to the hills! As you get more experience, you’ll learn to love the feeling of reaching the top of a hill and being greeted by a breathtaking view, or the feeling of a warm cup of tea in the evenings at camp after a long day on the trail. Practice may not make perfect, but it sure makes your future experiences more enjoyable!
3. Take it one step at a time.
Just as we don’t expect babies to learn how to walk straight away, we don’t expect people with no experience to go on a multi day trek straight away. It’s all about baby steps. If you’re feeling inexperienced, start on a lower graded trek until these feel like a ‘walk in a park’. Then, choose a more challenging route for your next trip. Like any other area of life, some days will seem easier than others. While a long, uphill battle may seem like a gruelling challenge one day, recognise that on other days you could ascend this same hill with relative ease. Remember not to pressure yourself to conquer a mountain, and that you don’t need to do the hardest trek out there to be a real ‘trekker’. Sometimes, simply strolling on a flat forest trail can be all it takes to reconnect with nature. At the end of the day, that’s what we’re striving for.
4. Get the right gear.
If you’re new to trekking and are in need of some gear, trust us on this: splurging on all of the most expensive gear doesn’t guarantee a happier hike. When you’re starting off, there are a few ‘essentials’ that are worth investing in, and other items that you can make-do with until you are starting to hike more.
Some of the key items you should ensure you have are:
- Good fitting trekking boots
- Wet weather gear
- Good, warm insulation clothing
- Good quality trekking socks
When it comes to clothing, go for loose fitting or stretchy materials (no cotton) and use layers of clothing that are appropriate for the climate or weather. On our guided treks, you don’t need to worry about items for first aid, navigation, nutrition or emergency items as our experienced guides take care of all of these details.
5. Give yourself time to be in the moment.
Try to limit your time on your mobile while you’re out on a trek; unless you’re using it to take photos. Even when you do stop to take photos, ensure you take some time to be present in the moment without trying to capture it for later. It’s these moments; the feelings, emotions and moments of reflection that you will remember in the years to come, and a photo of the scenery doesn’t do it justice.
If you’re really keen on embarking on a trek, you’ve got to commit. That means committing to your training walks, keeping your enthusiasm levels high, and trusting yourself and your body that you will overcome any physical discomfort the more you trek. Train yourself to recognise the beauty in the landscape around you despite how tired you are. This will help you get through some of those not-so-pleasant moments on the trail when your body feels tired and your emotions feel worn out.
7. Stay positive.
Learn how to smile throughout the ups and downs of the trail – it will keep you sane and boost your morale on tough days. On some days there may be more hills than flat terrain; more rain than sunshine; you can’t control these things, so there’s no point worrying about it. Just put one foot in front of the other and pull the positives out of any situation. You’ll likely laugh at any mishaps or misfortunes after the trip finishes – but why wait until after to laugh?
There’s no need to bring everything (but the kitchen sink)
If you’re tossing up whether to bring items that haven’t got a direct impact on your safety or comfort on the trek, we say ditch them. When it comes to carrying your load on your back, items like excessive amounts of food, too much clothing or bulky items like camping chairs will likely have you cursing their existence within an hour on the trail.
Learn your laces
Want to ensure maximum comfort for your feet? Loosely lace your shoes when you’re heading uphill to allow for greater circulation and blood flow, and lace your shoes tightly when heading downhill to help keep your feet in place.
Get snack happy
It’s surprising to some people how much you feel like eating on a trek – not just for your three main meals, but also on the go. Ensure you take snacks with you during your walks, such as muesli bars, dried fruits, trail mix, chocolates or jerky. Every time you stop, have a nibble and keep your energy levels high. One of the best things about trekking is that you don’t have to feel guilty for snacking multiple times throughout the day, as you’ll work it all off along the way.