Not Sure if You’re Ready for Adventure? Consult a Trainer

Not Sure if You’re Ready for Adventure? Consult a Trainer

You’ve been dreaming about going on an adventure trip for years. As you space out during another boring meeting and scroll through Instagram, certain images catch your attention: jagged peaks surrounding an impossibly blue lake … ancient ruins in the midst of a jungle with vibrant birds and flowers … hills covered in vineyards with red-tile-roofed villas dotting the countryside.

Then the nagging doubts creep in. I haven’t done anything like that before. It’s been a long time since I’ve done something that strenuous. Can I actually hike in those mountains? Will I be able to keep up with the group if I go on that trekking trip or bicycle tour?

Whether it’s walking the Camino de Santiago, hiking the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, climbing Kilimanjaro, bicycling in Italy or Croatia, or whatever your bucket list adventure is, with some pre-trip preparation, you CAN do it!

As a personal trainer and adventure coach, I help clients prepare physically and mentally so they feel strong and confident when they go on their dream trips. We collaborate to create a realistic and achievable plan, with guidance and support over the weeks or months leading up to the adventure.

Here’s how it works.

1: Increase Your Strength and Stamina

By their nature, adventure trips include a lot of interesting, and some challenging, experiences. Most of us don’t have the time in our “normal” lives to spend several hours a day walking, hiking or bicycling like you’ll be doing on the trip.

What you need is a training plan to help you improve your endurance and strength before you go. Then you’ll be ready to crush it when you get there!

I’ll use my personal training and adventure travel background to design a plan that fits into your life and prepares you for your adventures, such as hiking at high altitude, a cycling tour, or a multi-day walking tour. We’ll collaborate on what works well for you, and the strengths you can build on. You’ll find the energy and motivation to keep going farther.

As you try new things in the comfort of familiar surroundings, I’ll support you through the process. 

After a few weeks, you’ll look back at your progress and get even more excited for what’s to come!

Here’s how one of my client puts it: I feel like my walk along the Cinque Terra would have been much harder without the training I’ve had with Becki. I am stronger. I am more fit than I’ve been in years! – Julie M.

2: Stay on Track and Motivated

We all know the old saying, the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry. We have good intentions to get fit for a trip, but then there are the detours, delays and distractions that derail us.

As your adventure trainer and coach, I’ll help you navigate alternate routes as needed. You may go through one or several of the 5 mental stages of preparing for a challenge. We’ll explore what helps keep you motivated. And you’ll get extra support to stay on track and accountable.

You never know what is going to come up before your trip, but you will know you have someone to keep you moving forward.

Here’s what another client says: I appreciated the combination of accountability and challenge! – Carly O.

3: Improve Your Confidence and Comfort

On my first call with clients, some tell me they’re excited about the trip yet they are a bit terrified. It’s time to take on that little voice that’s saying “Can I really do all of this?”

I’ll remind you of all the reasons to respond to the voice, “Yes, I CAN do this!” The reasons will come from the successes you’ve had and what you’ve learned during your weeks of training for your adventure.

When you show up at the start of the trip, you’ll be confident that you’re going to have an amazing time. You’ll be comfortable with the activities because you’ve been doing them. You’ll be able to focus on the new places you’re exploring and the memories you’re making.

What may surprise you is how this experience transforms how you think about other parts of your life, and what you do in the future! More adventures seem possible, life changes seem manageable, and opportunities seem to multiply.

Another client commented: The coaching plan and coaching sessions gave me confidence that I am preparing for my hike and will be able to complete and enjoy it. Peggy L.

Learn more about training for adventure travel on the Active Travel Adventures podcast episode I joined with Kit Parks.

Want to talk about how this could work for you and your plans? Set up a free 30-minute consultation!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Training for a Week-long Bicycle Tour

Training for a Week-long Bicycle Tour

In the dark days of January 2021, with COVID travel limitations still in place, though vaccines offering a glimmer of hope, the trip planning started. By March we had a rough itinerary, and in April we started paying deposits.
 
Kicking off our first international trip in two years – a week in Croatia’s southern Dalmatian Islands, bicycling their roads and cruising the Adriatic Sea on a boat in between them. Finally we’d be in a different part of the world, experiencing another culture!
 
I have several friends who’ve done bicycling trips like this before, and I’d admired their photos and enjoyed their stories of exploring places via two wheels. We signed up with Islandhopper , a company our friends had toured with before.
 
Although I usually ride my bike a couple of days a week, and used to ride more often, I’d never done a bicycle tour. I started to wonder, how would I feel after day 3 or 4, and by day 6 of riding?
 
Several hours a day, multiple days in a row is a lot of “time in the saddle” of a bike. I reviewed the trip itinerary, though, and noted that the daily distance was 12-30 miles. The elevation change didn’t look too crazy hard. We could totally do this!

Creating the Bike Tour Training Plan

With the mileage and terrain in mind, I created a training plan for a week-long bike tour for the four of us going on the trip. Of the group, two of us usually ride bikes at least two days a week, one rides once or twice a week, and one rides periodically.

Here’s our training plan for a week-long bike tour:

Week 1: 2 bike rides for 30+ minutes, 2-3 strength training workouts*

Week 2: 2 bike rides for 45+ minutes, 2-3 strength training workouts

Week 3: 2 bike rides for 60 minutes, 2-3 strength training workouts

Week 4: 3 rides for 45 minutes, 2-3 strength training workouts

Week 5: 2 rides for 45 minutes, 1 ride for 1 hour, 2-3 strength training workouts

Week 6: 2 rides for 45 minutes, 1 ride for 1.5 hours, 2-3 strength training workouts

Week 7: 2 rides for 1 hour, 1 ride for 2 hours, 2-3 strength training workouts

Week 8: 2 rides for 1 hour, 1 ride for 2.5 hours (~20-25 miles), 2-3 strength training workouts

Week 9: 3 rides for 1 hour, 1 ride for 2.5 hours (~20-25 miles) with hills, 2-3 strength training workouts

Week 10: 3 rides for 1 hour, 1 ride for 3 hours (~25-30 miles), 2 strength training workouts

Week 11: 3 rides for 1+ hours, 1 ride for 3 hours with hills, 2 strength training workouts

Week 12: 1-2 easy rides (tapering off level of activity for muscle recovery)

I set up the training goals to be based on time rather than mileage for a couple of reasons. One was to get our butts ready for the amount of time we’d be sitting on a bike seat, and our legs used to pedaling, which I guessed would be up to 4 hours on the longest day.

The average miles per hour when bicycling can vary a lot depending on the type of bike you’re on and the terrain. I can cruise through 30 miles in 2 hours on my road bike on fairly flat land, but it would take me about 4 hours on my mountain bike with hills. We’d be on hybrid bikes, so I figured the time would be somewhere in between.

I also chose time-based targets to make it easier to plan, so we could set aside specific chunks of time during the week for preparation.

Coincidentally, my friend Kit Parks, who hosts the Active Travel Adventures podcast, was also signed up for a similar tour in Croatia starting the day after us! Her trip was through a different tour company (LOTS of tour operators offer this type of trip), and her expected mileage was more than ours.

So I developed a bicycle tour training plan for her based on her itinerary, which also took into account that she’d be on trekking trips in Italy and Slovenia for a few weeks before going to Croatia. She probably wouldn’t have access to a bike during that time, so her plan included more bicycling before she left the U.S.

Lessons from our Bike Tour

Spoiler alert: We did it! In the spirit of full disclosure, two of the four of us rode eBikes, which made the experience far more enjoyable for them than if they’d ridden the standard bike.

I rode the standard “trekking bike,” as the guides called it. It turned out, I was one of 3 people in the road tour group who rode a standard bike, rather than an eBike, for the whole trip (2 others switched to eBikes for the longest day of riding).

This sturdy bike was similar to my first hybrid bike, with an upright sitting position, wider tires than my road bike (thinner than mountain bike tires), and a steel frame. I really noticed the weight on the one stretch where I pushed the bike for about 100 yards on a particularly steep hill. I definitely missed my carbon fiber road bike!

I’m glad I put in the time to train on my bike before the trip. I felt more comfortable and confident that I’d be okay at the end of the day, which I was. I was definitely ready to get off the bike at the end of the longest day (about 32 miles and 3,000 feet of elevation change). Yet I was ready to get back on the bike the next day.

Honestly, if you ride an eBike for a trip like this, you don’t really need to train. Many of the people riding eBikes said they rarely ride, and they did just fine, though the eBikes do require pedaling! And if you have to push an eBike (if the battery runs out), it’s REALLY heavy!

One thing I wasn’t expecting was changes to the itinerary we’d gotten before the trip. We ended up going to the islands in a different order than was outlined in our materials, and one destination was changed entirely because of construction and weather conditions.

The guides also adjusted some of the routes based on our feedback. So the distances for each day were different than I thought they would be, though still in the range of the original plan.

Exploring the islands by bike was a great way to notice differences in the flora among the islands, take in the views and burn off the generous meals they fed us on the boat! We stopped in little towns for coffee, hopped off our bikes to pick and eat local berries, and cruised along well-paved roads.

You can find a slideshow of photos here.

I’m already looking forward to future bicycling tours!

When to Start Training for an Adventure Trip

When to Start Training for an Adventure Trip

You’ve started thinking about an upcoming hiking or biking trip. Then you start to wonder, how long does it take to get in shape for this type of trip?

One of questions I’m asked most often is how far in advance of a trip or activity to start training. Usually the question comes up for a “bucket list” trip, like hiking the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu or a multi-day bike trip through wine country. It’s worth considering for any trip where you’ll be doing more physical activity than normal, though.

By training to get ready for a trip where you’ll be spending more time and effort on physical activity than in your day-to-day life, you’ll have the strength and stamina to make the most of the experience.

You’ll feel more comfortable throughout the day and have more energy at the end of the day. You’ll be able to focus on what you’re seeing, who you’re with, and what you’re learning, rather than worrying about keeping up with your partner or group, or if your legs are going to give out before you reach your destination.

Having a big trip coming up can be a great source of motivation to get more physically active. To figure out when to start training for an adventure trip, take into account these factors:

  1. What activities you’re doing on your trip
  2. Your current activity level
  3. How much time you can realistically commit to training

Your Trip’s Activities

Back in 2013 my husband and I hiked the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. Although we live in Colorado and usually get out for at least one hike on summer weekends, we rarely hike more than 2 days in a row, and most of our hikes are 4-8 miles.

The Inca Trail route we chose involved 4 days of hiking 7-10 miles per day with up to 3,000 feet of elevation gain and loss on a couple of the days. Could we have just kept with our normal hiking routine and gotten through it? Probably – but we may not have been able to enjoy it as much as we did.

Fortunately, I’ve learned from experience how to get in shape for hiking longer distances. I injured my left knee in my mid-20s doing a 26-mile hike, and now if I hike a lot more miles than I normally do, my knee tells me about it. I know that I need to add mileage gradually and build up to longer distances. And I need to hike several days in a row to build up my muscles for a multi-day trip.

We started training in late spring, about 3 months before our trip in mid-August. We picked hikes with more elevation change than we normally would to train for the steep hikes in the Andes. As we got closer, we hiked both weekend days and took longer walks in our neighborhood during the week.

When we met up with our group for the Inca Trail trip, we looked around and realized we were the oldest ones. Yet on the first day, we were the first ones to camp, and among the first to make it to the highest point on the second day.

Our training paid off – no knee issues for me, and we had plenty of time and energy to explore the amazing Inca ruins along the way.

So step 1 is to evaluate your trip’s activities. Are you doing one “big day” where you’ll be spending hours on a hike, bike ride, paddling or other physical activities? Do you have multiple days in a row of more activity than you’re used to? Will you have rest days in between active days?

By looking at the length, duration and number of days you’ll be active, as well as any special circumstances (high altitude, lots of elevation gain/loss), you have the “end goal” in mind as you consider how much time you’ll need.

Your Current Activity Level

In my Inca Trail scenario, my husband and I started with an existing base of fitness for hiking. So we were able to start from there and add to it to train for the steep hike.

In fall 2021 we did a trip where we’d be biking for 5 days in a row in Croatia. I try to get out on my bike periodically during the winter and spring, but honestly, it can be tough to do that where we live. And my husband only bikes periodically, even in the summer.

So guess what we did that summer – got on our bikes and started riding at least 2-3 days a week as our trip gets closer!

Be honest with yourself about your current activity level, and how it compares to what you’re planning to do on your trip. If you’re going to be walking 5+ miles a day, and right now the only walking you’re doing is to your car and back for work and shopping, you’ll need a bit of time to build up to 5 miles.

Time Available to Train

Commitments for work, family, community and more fill our days and weeks. Finding some time for training may be a challenge.

If your schedule is already pretty tight, you may need to allow for a longer timeframe for training. For example, if you can only set aside half an hour twice a week, and limited time on the weekends, then you may want to begin six months before your trip.

Another reason to start sooner is if you anticipate you’ll be busier than usual before your trip.

When I was in my corporate job, I was heavily involved in an annual meeting that required extra work. The event also aligned with an especially busy time in our marketing cycle. During the weeks leading up to the conference, I didn’t have time for anything extra!

If you can keep doing at least some activity during those busy times, that’ll help you maintain momentum.

Calculating Your Timeframe

Now that you know a bit more about the three key factors, let’s look at some examples.

Example 1: Multi-day hike or bike, periodically active, 2-3 hours a week to train

In this scenario, I’d aim for at least 3 months to prepare since it’s a multi-day stretch of activity. With a few hours a week, you’ll be able to add activity amount gradually to build up to longer distances.

Ideally, as you get closer to the trip, you’d be able to carve out a bit more time and do back-to-back days of hiking or biking to simulate your trip experience.

Example 2: One “big activity,” not currently active, 1-2 hours a week to train

For this situation, it may be better to take 4-6 months to get ready. That gives you more time to add small increments to your activity level – I usually recommend adding 10-20% in distance per week.

Let’s say you currently walk a few blocks at the most (about half a mile) a few times a week. For your trip, you want to be able to walk up to 10 miles. I’d suggest starting off adding a block or two to each walk. Soon you’ll be up to a mile per walk, and in a month or so you’ll be up to about 2 miles per walk.

As your stamina builds, you’ll add more distance. By increasing distance gradually, you’re less likely to get an injury. And if you have to take a week off, you have time to make up for it.

 

Get Personalized Help

As a personal trainer and adventure coach, I help people with this calculation all the time. Want an estimate based on your specific situation? Just email me at becki@trailblazerwellness.com and I’d be happy to help you figure out when you should start training for an upcoming adventure!