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

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

 

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 an adventure is to you, with some pre-trip preparation, you CAN do it!

As an 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. 

Yet you can build your strength and stamina over the weeks before you go, so you’ll be ready to crush it when you get there!

I’ll collaborate with you to design a plan that fits into your life and prepares you for your adventure. You’ll learn what works well for you, and the strengths you can build on. You’ll find the energy and motivation to keep going farther.

You’ll try new things in the comfort of familiar surroundings. And 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

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

As your adventure coach, I’ll help you navigate alternate routes as needed. 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

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 coaching.

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.

Want to talk about how this could work for you and your plans? Email me at becki@trailblazerwellness.com  

 

 

What to Do to Train for a Multi-day Hiking Trip

What to Do to Train for a Multi-day Hiking Trip

-5As the pandemic “travel hold” eases up, I’ve been training several clients who have signed up for Bucket List trips featuring a multi-day hiking or walking excursion.

Does your Bucket List include at least one multi-day hike or trek? Maybe the Camino de Santiago – that’s on mine, scheduled for May 2022. Hiking in the Alps has been on my list since watching the Sound of Music as a kid – now on the calendar for September 2022!

Or are you aiming to do one of the treks to Machu Picchu – my husband and I completed the “Classic” 4-day version in 2013 . Perhaps you’re intrigued by one of the newer options, like the Camino de Costa Rica?

Training for a multi-day hiking trip should involve more than just walking and hiking to prepare. If you want to make the most of this type of trip, here’s how to get started and gain momentum toward your goal!

 

Getting (Re)Started Hiking

Whether it’s been months or years since you’ve hiked regularly, or even if you’ve never really hiked, you can do a multi-day trek if you have the time and the motivation.

If the multi-day hiking trip you want to do is more than 3 days and more than 20 miles total, and you’re not hiking or walking regularly now, you should start training at least 3 months before the trip.  

The key is to start small and slow, then increase your activity gradually. If you’ve been less mobile because of an illness or injury, see this post on 5 focus areas for a post-injury hiking trip.

Look for short hikes in your area, and start with what feels doable for you. Then add about 10-20% to your total distance or time each week as you get more comfortable. You can use a pedometer app on your phone or a fitness tracker/watch to gauge the distance.  

Sites like AllTrails and apps like Hiking Project are helpful for finding hikes. They show detailed information about the distance and elevation change of the trails, plus reviews from hikers.

Another great resource is your local parks andecreation department. Or stop by a store that sells outdoor clothing and gear and ask one of the employees.

 

Stepping it up

As you do more hiking, your large leg muscles – quadriceps, hamstrings and calves – will get stronger. That said, doing specific strength building exercises with your legs will help you be more stable and less tired on longer hikes.

One simple and effective exercise is step ups, which are exactly what they sound like: stepping up on stairs or a bench. You can start with a single step, then use a longer staircase to go up and down – actually, the down is as important as the up.

Also step up sideways – that strengthens the muscles that will help you be more stable on uneven terrain when you’re hiking.

If you don’t take stairs much currently, here’s a good starting point:

  • 20 steps up and down on each leg
  • 10 side steps up on each leg
  • At least two times per week
  • Add 5-10 steps up and down, and 2-5 side steps on each leg, each week

After a couple of weeks, get your backpack, put some weight in it, and climb stairs wearing it. 

If your multi-day hike includes steep sections, work up to taking the steps two at a time up and down.

 

Building Strength

Incorporating strength training as you prepare for a multi-day hike will pay off with increased endurance and reduced risk of injury.

Core

As you hike, especially with a backpack, you’ll be twisting and leaning as you navigate uneven terrain. The muscles in your abs and back are key to keeping you stable and upright.

Holding a plank position is a popular way to build core strength. You can start by doing a plank against a wall, then on the floor with your knees on the ground, and work your way up to being on forearms and toes.

Hold the plank with good form for as long as you can, then add a few more seconds each time to get to 1 minute. Remember to keep your abdominal muscles tight and tailbone tucked, don’t let your lower back arch.

Strengthening your oblique muscles will help as you bend and twist when you’re hiking on uneven ground. They’re also used as you’re putting on and taking off a backpack.

One way to improve your obliques is side twists. Sit in a chair and hold a weight in front of you with your upper arms at your sides and elbows bent at 90 degrees. Turn your torso at your waist as if you were going to pass the weight to someone next to you, then turn back to the middle, and then turn to the other side.

Core workout:

  • Plank for 30-60 seconds, at least once a day
  • Side twists – start with 10 per side once a day, add 2-5 more per side per week

Upper Body

Although you may be tempted to focus just on your legs and core, don’t neglect your upper body. Strengthening your chest, back and shoulders will help you be more comfortable holding the additional weight of your pack. Plus you’ll use your biceps and triceps to lift the pack.

If you use trekking poles <link to trekking poles article>, which I highly recommend, a stronger upper body will help you use them to take pressure off your hips and knees.

The classic exercise for building upper body strength is good old-fashioned pushups. As with plank, you can start with doing pushups against the wall. Then move to the floor with your knees on the ground and do as many as you can. As you get stronger, lift one knee and then both knees so you’re on your hands and toes as you lower your chest to the ground and then push up.

You can also use your backpack to strengthen your arms and back. Put in a few soup cans or bottles of water to start. Bend your knees, keep your chest up and grab the top of the shoulder straps. As you stand, lift the pack up in front of you to about chest height, then lower it back down to the ground.

You should have enough weight in the pack that your arms get tired after 10-15 lifts. If you are comfortable lifting it 15 times, add 2-3 more cans or bottles the next time. Keep adding more weight until you get to the point where your arms are tired after 10 lifts.

Upper body workout:

  • Pushups – 10-15 at least 2x per week
  • Pack lifts – 10-15 at least 2x per week

 

Improving Balance

Better balance reduces your risk of injury while hiking. By practicing balance regularly, you’ll be better equipped to deal with uneven ground and unexpected movements, like a rock shifting under your boot.

Balance exercises help you build the smaller muscles and tendons that surround and stabilize your larger muscles and joints.

A simple way to improve balance is to stand on one foot on various surfaces – carpet, concrete, grass, dirt, gravel, rocks. Also do this on a hill – facing uphill and downhill. Aim for 30 seconds per leg to start and work up to 60 seconds. Notice which foot or side feels more stable. Then put on your pack and do it.

Add time to your balance routine gradually. Spend extra time practicing balance on your weaker side.

Focusing on Flexibility

Finally, don’t forget about flexibility. When you’re more flexible, it’s easier to reach that awkward step or hand hold as you navigate more challenging terrain. And you’re less likely to strain your muscles along the way.

At a minimum, stretch for 5 minutes after a hike or strength workout. Hold each position for about 30 seconds.

Yoga and Pilates help with both flexibility and balance, plus many of the common moves in these practices strengthen and tone muscles. Adding at least one session per week will help you work out the kinks from your increased activities. Find a studio with qualified instructors, especially if you’re new to these practices.

Sample Training for Multi-day Hike Plan

One of the basic principles for training is to add more effort gradually – about 10-20% additional per week. For hiking, additional effort can mean more miles and/or steeper hills, and/or a heavier pack. For strength training, additional effort can be a combination of more repetitions or time, and additional weight. 

Click here to download the first 6 weeks of a plan for a person who is generally healthy, though not exercising regularly, who wants to complete a 3-day, 20-mile inn-to-inn hike carrying a day pack with moderate elevation changes (no more than 1,000 feet per day).

Finding your Way

If training for a multi-day hike sounds like a lot to add into your already busy life, find creative strategies for multi-tasking!

  • Practice balance by standing on one foot while you’re brushing your teeth.
  • Hold a plank while you’re watching your favorite show or reading a book.
  • Take the stairs instead of the elevator at the office or while doing errands.
  • Take your dog for an extra-long walk or two. If you don’t have a dog, walk a neighbor’s pup.

If you’re struggling with confidence, try these mindset strategies.

And remember to take it one step at a time – literally and figuratively!

5 Tips for Using Trekking Poles

5 Tips for Using Trekking Poles

I use trekking poles on the vast majority of the hikes I do – it’s become second nature to use them as another set of “limbs.” Honestly, I feel a little weird when I don’t have them. It’s like riding a bicycle without wearing a helmet or riding in the car without a seatbelt.

That said, I understand that some people who are new to using poles feel a bit awkward at first. Don’t give up if you initially struggle with the cadence of planting poles while walking – it just takes a bit of practice.

Once you get the hang of it, you may get to the point where it seems unnatural to hike without poles, rather than with them!

Here are a few tips to make the transition a bit easier on you.

  1. Set the poles at the appropriate length. Your elbow should be at 90 degrees when the tip of the pole is on the ground and you’re holding the grip comfortably.
  2. Walk on fairly flat, wide trail with your poles for a bit – railroad beds that have been converted to trails or dirt roads are good options. This will help you get used to the cadence before you use them on trails with roots and rocks and uneven surfaces.
  3. Step and pole plant simultaneously, with opposite foot and arm (left foot and right pole, then left foot and right pole). This follows your natural pattern of arm swing with foot placement – the difference is you’re adding a point of contact through the pole. You can plant the pole slightly in front the foot that is still on the ground (right pole/right foot), along side it or even slightly behind it, whatever feels best for you.
  4. Plant both poles for added leverage or stability. This makes getting up, over and across rocks, stream crossings and other obstacles easier. For example, on “rock steps” I’ll put both poles up on the step with my foot in between and use my upper body to help hoist me up. I use a similar technique going down – I place my poles on the lower step and ease my body down until my foot is on the step. For stream crossings on rocks or narrow log bridges, I put both poles on the stream bed (if possible) for extra balance.
  5. Adjust the length on longer inclines and declines. I’ll adjust my poles if the stretch of trail is going up or down for more than a quarter mile. For uphills, shorten poles and use your upper body to help push the load (you and your pack) up. For downhills, lengthen the poles and use them to help brace the load and reduce the impact on your lower body.

Pretty soon you’ll be cruising along with your “four legs” and wondering what you ever did without them!

Want to get regular updates from me? Join my email list by filling out the the form below:

FYI: Blog posts by Becki Rupp and Trailblazer Wellness LLC are for informational purposes only and may not be the best fit for you and your personal situation. Information included in these posts shall not be construed as medical advice. The information and education provided here is not intended or implied to supplement or replace professional medical treatment, advice, and/or diagnosis. Always check with your own physician or medical professional before trying or implementing any information read in our blog posts.

3 Features to Consider When Selecting Trekking Poles

3 Features to Consider When Selecting Trekking Poles

I’ve recently researched new poles to replace my original pair, which is now more than 25 years old, ISO a lighter and more compact version. So I know that with dozens of trekking pole models on the market, selecting a pair can be overwhelming.

Here are a few key features to consider when selecting trekking poles.

1. Ease of adjustability and collapsibility

If you’re planning to do hikes with significant elevation changes, it’s helpful to adjust the pole length for the uphills (shorter) and downhills (longer). The ability to make these changes quickly and easily makes it more likely you’ll actually do it.

Being able to collapse a pole to a short length for stashing on scrambles and for travel is handy too.

2. Comfortable hand grip and its material

Definitely test the grip before picking poles – you’ll be able to tell quickly if the shape doesn’t suit your hand. Your fingers should wrap securely around the grip, though not touch the base of your hand. Also notice how the strap adjusts to cradle your hand and support it – watch for potential rubbing.

  • Cork. Some people prefer cork grips, which absorb sweat and hold up well. My husband’s poles have cork grips, which he finds comfortable.
  • Rubber. Others like rubber grips, which are a bit softer and are usually less expensive. My original Leki’s have rubber grips and fit my hands well.
  • Foam is another option, though it doesn’t last as long as cork or rubber.
  • Plastic grips are common on cheaper models, but they get slippery with sweat and don’t feel as comfortable as the other options.

3. Weight and durability of the pole shafts

Materials make a difference for this too, and they also influence cost.

  • Carbon fiber. Poles made with this are lightweight and fairly strong, though they can be damaged more easily than some other materials. They’re also more expensive.
  • Aluminum. Also pretty lightweight, and the “aircraft grade” heat-treated versions are more resilient than carbon fiber.
  • Composite metals. These may be heavier than the other options, though less expensive.

If you foresee a lot of hilly hiking in your future, investing in higher quality poles may make the difference in how much you enjoy it.

And it’s far cheaper than knee surgery!

Once you’ve found the perfect poles, it’s time to get out and use them! Check out 5 tips for using trekking poles.

Want to get regular updates from me? Join my email list by filling out the the form below:

FYI: Blog posts by Becki Rupp and Trailblazer Wellness LLC are for informational purposes only and may not be the best fit for you and your personal situation. Information included in these posts shall not be construed as medical advice. The information and education provided here is not intended or implied to supplement or replace professional medical treatment, advice, and/or diagnosis. Always check with your own physician or medical professional before trying or implementing any information read in our blog posts.

4 Reasons to Use Trekking Poles

4 Reasons to Use Trekking Poles

If you think trekking poles are just for “older hikers,” I’m here to tell you that using trekking poles is how you get to be an “older hiker”! My original trekking poles are older than some of the people I’ve hiked with over the 25+ years I’ve been using them.

They became a part of my standard hiking equipment after injuring my knee doing the Dogwood Half Hundred 50-kilometer hike in the Shenandoah Mountains one spring day back in the mid-1990s.

Since then, they’ve helped me enjoy hikes in multiple states and countries, from Alaska to Peru.

Based on science and my experience, here are the top 4 reasons why you should use trekking poles.

1. Save Your Knees

I honestly don’t know how much hiking I’d still be doing without poles. They are an absolute savior on the downhills. Using poles reduces the pressure on your knees and other joints.  And let’s face it, as our joints get older, they can use all the help they can get!

2. Increase Your Endurance

By spreading the effort to include your upper body, your legs can hike longer and stronger. This is especially helpful when you’re carrying a heavier pack for a longer day hike or backpacking trip. Plus I love getting a full-body workout!

3. Improve your stability

If I had a dollar for every time I was grateful to have my poles for a sketchy stretch of trail, stream crossing, large step or other obstacle, I’d be on my world travel dream trip right now!

I’ll call out “four legs good” to my husband – less a literary reference to Animal Farm and more an acknowledgment that four points of contact have kept me from falling many times.

4. Enjoy more of the scenery

One thing I noticed soon after I started using trekking poles is that I looked around more during hikes. With the increase in stability and sure-footedness (is that a word?), I spent less time looking down at the trail for potential obstacles. I naturally stood up straighter and gazed farther down the trail.

And that’s why I recommend trekking poles to my hiking clients!

Ready to join the trekking pole tribe? I’ve also put together 3 factors to consider when selecting trekking poles, and 5 tips for using trekking poles.

Want to get regular updates from me? Join my email list by filling out the the form below:

FYI: Blog posts by Becki Rupp and Trailblazer Wellness LLC are for informational purposes only and may not be the best fit for you and your personal situation. Information included in these posts shall not be construed as medical advice. The information and education provided here is not intended or implied to supplement or replace professional medical treatment, advice, and/or diagnosis. Always check with your own physician or medical professional before trying or implementing any information read in our blog posts.

22 Ideas for Improving Your Health and Wellness in 2022

22 Ideas for Improving Your Health and Wellness in 2022

Some say 22 is one of the “angel numbers” or “master numbers” – I just think it’s fun to use these types of numbers to make lists!

So of course my mind immediately goes to a list of ways to improve health and wellness. It’s a mix of ideas for fitness, nutrition, mental health and more. Enjoy!

  1. Try 1 new fruit – or 1 new recipe using your favorite fruit!
  2. Pick 2 things from this list to do this week.
  3. Identify 3 healthy habits to try for a week. I’m filling up 2 water bottles each morning and drinking them before the end of the day to increase my fluids. If you want some help with creating habits, check out BJ Fogg’s Tiny Habits free 5-day program or James Clear’s Atomic Habits 30-day free class.
  4. Set 4 health-related goals for yourself. One of mine is to drink at least 64 oz. of fluids a day (see above).
  5. Try 5 new vegetables – or 5 new recipes for your favorite vegetables. Here’s a list of vegetables to get some inspiration.
  6. Stretch for 6 minutes per day.
  7. Take 7 deep breaths when you’re feeling stressed.
  8. Add 8 minutes of physical activity to your day.
  9. Brainstorm 9 ideas to help you stick with a healthy habit. For example, set a reminder on your calendar, put a post-in note on your mirror, sign up for a class, etc.
  10. Find 10 ways to move more during your typical day. Some ideas: use a bathroom that’s farther away, set a timer to remind you to stand up and stretch every hour, play with your child or pet for a few extra minutes.
  11. List 11 things you’re good at and how you can apply those skills to improving your health. I’m good at organizing social gatherings, so I use that to organize hikes!
  12. Choose 12 healthy recipes to try this year. I have the app Forks Over Knives on my phone to inspire me.
  13. Remember 13 successes you’ve had in your life, small or big, and what helped you achieve them.
  14. Log your exercise for 14 days.
  15. Try standing on one foot for 15 seconds, then try on the other foot and notice any differences.
  16. Spend 16 minutes connecting with someone you care about.
  17. Make a list of 17 people you want to see in the coming year.
  18. Rest and recharge for 18 minutes per week – or per day!
  19. Practice some form of meditation or mindfulness for 19 days in a row.
  20. Invest $20 in something that helps you improve your health.
  21. Spend 21 minutes learning something new.
  22. Write down 22 things you’re grateful for in your life.

Want to get regular updates from me? Join my email list by filling out the the form below:

FYI: Blog posts by Becki Rupp and Trailblazer Wellness LLC are for informational purposes only and may not be the best fit for you and your personal situation. Information included in these posts shall not be construed as medical advice. The information and education provided here is not intended or implied to supplement or replace professional medical treatment, advice, and/or diagnosis. Always check with your own physician or medical professional before trying or implementing any information read in our blog posts.