Preparing for pain in Nepal
“As a general rule, the more you train the easier it will be. But now sitting at my desk on the day before I leave I ask myself: am I ready and have I done enough training? The hardest part was trying to balance work, a social life and a respectable amount of exercise in one day. With only 3 months to prepare for my Nepal trek, it didn’t give me long to get in shape. I chose a combination of aerobic training, leg strength exercises and loads of walking, but will I have the recipe for the perfect fitness regime?
Fitting in exercise on week days was my biggest struggle. Being an outdoors person, I prefer running along the river as opposed to running on a treadmill. Of course this caused problems when it was boiling hot or pouring with rain. Walking 7-8 km (4-5 miles) to and from work seemed to be the best thing. I was covering almost double what we will actually walk each day on the trek and it improved my fitness levels dramatically. On days I wasn’t walking I tried to fit in a run at night to increase my aerobic capacity, or do various leg strength exercises with weights or running up and down stairs.
Weekends proved a lot easier to get in some lengthy training sessions. Hills and/or stairs are great for leg strength and improving your general fitness. On various occasions I did the ‘Thousand Stairs’ bush walk in the Dandenong Ranges, just outside Melbourne. This track is renowned as being a training playground for those embarking on big challenges such as Everest Base Camp. I found it to be a good physical challenge, as well as a great opportunity to test my fitness. Hills don’t get much steeper than the ‘Thousand Stairs’ and on these long climbs you can really push yourself and your abilities. I recommend finding an equivalent near your home if you are considering a serious trek, because training like this is as much a mental challenge as it is a physical one.
It’s good to prepare in surroundings that are in some way similar to what you’ll be experiencing on the trek. So for example, bush walking on rocky paths helps get your ankles trek-ready more than just jumping on the stair-master. Then you can also exercise while getting used to carrying a laden day pack and wearing in your boots.
Speaking of footwear… equipment-wise the most important thing is to buy your boots early. Make sure they are sturdy and light weight and wear them in! Start by wearing them when you’re watching TV, then don them while doing your daily chores and build up to using your boots when you’re doing your training. There would be nothing worse than hiking for 12 days with blisters and uncomfortable boots.
So, my bags are packed and I am ready to go. I feel fit and healthy and prepared to take on Everest. Will my training be enough? Will altitude sickness kick in? And that final big question – will I make it to Base Camp?”
And an update from Susie about her Intrepid Nepal trip… She made it. “I set my sights on Everest Base Camp and can’t believe I’ve achieved my goal. I was definitely glad I’d done the training and we had a great group to keep us all motivated. You know I thought the highlight would be reaching EBC (as us trekkers call it!), but there was so much more to this adventure than I ever imagined. Right now a beach break sounds like a good idea for my next trip, but then I’ll be planning another adventure challenge…Kilimanjaro or Machu Picchu, bring it on!”
Intrepid has great Nepal travel options. Some treks to give you a real challenge, others that let you explore the Himalayas without exerting quite as much energy.
Photo: Bradley Stulberg in Nepal.