Getting ready for a 40 km trek needs a lot of planning and preparation. Mick O’Malley of O’Malley Fitness has the tips and tricks to getting you ready for the Surf Coast Trek!
First of all, start out slow and easy!
Walk out the door, walk 15 minutes, and walk back. That’s it? Yes, that’s it.
Do this every day for a week. If this was easy for you, add five – ten minutes to your walks.
Don’t over do it too early as you may end up with overuse injuries later in our training.
If you’re new to walking, start off with slow, short sessions and build your way up gradually. Do not worry at all about speed in the beginning; we will be concentrating on time and not distance. We will work up to time versus distance later in our training.
Be aware of your posture. Walk tall and think of elongating your body. Hold your head up and eyes forward and try not to slouch.
If you have a medical condition or any health concerns be sure to check with your doctor for advice before you begin a routine.
For most people who have not exercised or trekked in a while, there may be some, tired and sore muscles, which are more prone to injury. Regular stretching is a means of minimizing the chances of injury occurring. You should always stretch atleast 10 to 15 minutes after each training session or walk.
Don’t stretch too vigorously first thing in the morning. Your muscles will still be stiff from the evenings sleep. Gentle loosening stretches are fine, however, over-stretching tight or a cold muscle is one of the most common ways in which strains and tears can occur. Don’t bounce during any of the stretches. All stretches should be done slowly and with control. Focus on breathing deeply. Breathe into the stretches.
Be aware of the pain of injury as to the pain of exertion if you feel injury pain, then you are over-stretching and putting yourself at risk of injury
Most trekkers will pack a roll of sports tape, which can prove its worth in time of quickrepairs of shoes, water-bladders and blisters. However you wont need a whole roll, instead you can wrap the tape around a trekking pole, or in a container to save on space and weight.
Don’t Double Up
Most of you will be walking with a friend or part of a group; Often gear is double packed insmall groups of inexperienced trekkers. Before the trek it is a good idea to compare checklists and use common sense. Ensure you don’t double up on items and you could all save a few kilograms.
With 5 weeks to go – Time to start building up the training
By now we should be up to walking 4 days a week, 30 to 40 minutes at a fast pace. You should be breathing a little harder but not gasping for air. You warm up and cool down (stretch) in addition to the time spent at the faster pace.If you are walking for only 2 days a week this should be at least 60-80 minutes at a moderate to brisk pace. Walking faster will obviously cover more distance so ensure you walk for time and not distance.If you are time poor, another way to get the kms into your legs is by using a pedometer to track steps, this can be a great motivational tool. A reasonable goal for most people is to increase average daily steps each week by 500 per day until you can easily average 15,000 per day.
Aim to keep your back-pack to less than 5kg. Remember, if walking in a team, you will be able to share items. There will also be plenty of water along the way at the designated drinks/refreshment stations so there is no need to carry more than 1lt of water at a time.
Tighten all compression straps to limit any load-shifting. You are the ultimate judge of what feels comfortable to you. Experiment with different load arrangements to determine what feels best.
When packing your backpack for men, keep your heaviest items close to your back, centred between your shoulder blades. You should keep heavy items in the middle of your pack. This helps focus more of the weight over your hips, the area of your body best equipped to carry a heavy load.
Women however due to a different centre of gravity may want to arrange heavier items lower in the main compartment, starting again from the spot between your shoulder blades. This lowers your centre of gravity and increases your stability on uneven terrain
Blisters are one the main reasons trekkers will struggle on hikes. There are many views on treatment and prevention of blisters, and a variety of ways to help prepare and strengthen your feet.
Shoes: Make sure you have a comfortable pair of good walking shoes, which you have at least worn for a 3-hour hike. Find out what works for you by experimenting during training. Don’t wear new shoes during the event!
Socks: Wear good quality moisture-wicking socks in a synthetic/cotton or wool blend. (Avoid wearing pure cotton or pure wool.) Some Trekkers find that ‘double socking’ using a thin liner sock under a thicker walking sock works for them. A spare pare of socks to change 1Ž2 way is recommended and provide welcome relief for your feet.
Moisture control: Keeping your feet dry will reduce the likelihood of friction blisters. Some walkers use spray-on antiperspirant (on the feet!) before starting. Don’t apply petroleum-based products such as Vaseline or pawpaw ointment. They are known to actually increase skin friction on long walks. Simple measures such as changing out of wet shoes and socks are the most effective. (in case of rain)
Try taping your feet: Taping feet with a hypoallergenic adhesive bandage (not brown sports tape) may help. Practice different foot taping techniques during training. Massaging feet with anti-friction skin balm may also help, but avoid petroleum-based products (see above).
Know your feet: Get to know where your feet are prone to blisters. Cover these areas with either hypoallergenic tape (such as Fixomull) and if really problematic, a more specialised hydrocolloid type of dressing (such as Duoderm, Cutinova Hydro, Allevyn Thin) and then use Fixomull to secure.
Recognise hot spots: The key to blister prevention is to recognise ‘hot-spots’ which are slightly sore or warm patches of skin that can be caused by rubbing or pressure. Anyone who has experienced bad blisters will need no convincing that prevention is better than cure, so if you notice a ‘hot spot’ stop and fix it immediately.
Prepare your feet: Clip your toenails so they are short and rounded to help prevent pressure and bruising. A little callous is healthy, however you should gently file back excessive callous in the weeks prior to the event, or have it removed by a podiatrist. It’s a common misconception that hard skin prevents blisters – the worst blisters are under areas of callous. Moisturiser can be used daily to improve the elasticity of skin and minimise hardening.
Chafing is one of the most common discomforts for Trekkers.
Here are a few methods to prevent it:
- Underarms, nipples and legs are all prone to chaffing. Put bandaids or a hypoallergenic tape over the nipples and apply antifriction skin balm (not Vaseline) to the other areas. (Glide is a great anti chaffing product)
Wear a base layer of clothing that pulls perspiration away from your body. This helps with chafing and reduces chills from sweating.
What to eat before the event
As we can only store a limited amount of carbohydrates, you can increase your store directly before the event by carbohydrate loading. For three days before the event, increase your carbohydrate intake. During this time, eat less high-fat food because it makes you feel full and you won’t be able to eat the carbohydrates.
On the morning of the event, eat a high-carbohydrate breakfast 1–4 hours before the event to top up your carbohydrates one last time. Alternatively, if youhave an early start, eat a bigger dinner the night before and a smaller, carbohydrate-rich snack in the morning. Or you can simply be mindful of eating carbohydrates early and consistently in the event to ensure your levels aretopped up. This will help you to avoid hitting the wall.
What to eat during the event
What you eat during the event is a personal decision and should be trialed throughout your training. Experienced trekkers will have their own nutrition and eating plan. For others, the following are a few basic tips to get you going:
- Eat meals and snacks that are high in carbohydrates. Eating every hour should keep you on track.
- Meals can include a sandwich, wraps or roll.
- Snacks can include fruit, muesli bars or a nutmix
- Plan when you’ll eat. It’s often hard to replenish carbohydrates once you’ve hit the wall.
You may be surprised to how tired you feel after the event
Drinking water and eating carbohydrates and protein is important for recovery.
- Fifteen to thirty minutes after the event, have a snack that includes some carbohydrates and protein. This will help you recover effectively. During this time your muscles can easily absorb carbohydrate and protein.
- Make sure you drink plenty of fluids 24 to 48 hours after the event. Try sports drinks if you need to recover more quickly.
- Avoid drinking alcohol after the event. It has a negative impact on the recovery of nutrition and on soft-tissue injury caused by exercise.
- Maintaining the right level of hydration is essential for trekking long distances. In extreme cases, over-hydration can result in a severe medical condition called hyponatremia. Also on the other hand, failing to hydrate sufficiently can lead to significant health consequences like dehydration.
- A rough guide to drink (this may change due to weather) 500-750ml per hour of walking.