Staying ‘hill-fit’ is a guest blog by Kathryn Fitzpatrick – Freelance Guide.
Unless you are lucky enough to live within 5km of the hills, getting out hiking is not an option for the majority of us at the moment, however staying ‘hill-fit’ doesn’t always have to include the hills. Check out a few tips below to help maintain or build your hill-fitness over lockdown, so when the time comes and we get back outside into the mountains you’ll be ready to go..!
What is ‘hill-fit’ anyway?
When we talk about being ‘hill- fit’ we mean keeping our cardiovascular system (heart & lungs) and muscles in top condition, these are the two main components your body uses to get you to the top of the mountain (and back down again). Walking, jogging, yoga, swimming and cycling, are all great cardio exercises and can be done within the latest government restrictions. Getting your heart rate elevated for 30mins or more several times a week and using a wide range of muscle groups is a great workout and will help maintain your hill fitness.
Take advantage of what is on your doorstep
What resources are in your 5km radius? Double check with https://2kmfromhome.com/ you never know what you might be missing out on. Do a bit of research on your local parks, beaches, forest trails or heritage walks.
What motivates you?
So what motivates you to go hiking? Is it the feeling of achievement at the end of the day, pushing your comfort levels, taking in a new summit or enjoying being outside in nature? Whatever motivates you to get out into the hills see if you can you transfer this to everyday lockdown life.
Goals & monitoring your progress
Planning goals & monitoring your progress is a great way to see what you are achieving and to stay on track to getting ‘hill-fit’. Your goals should be realistic, think back to what’s on your doorstep, what can you achieve within your local area?
Make them specific and detailed, plan a route like you would in the hills, add in location names and distances you want to cover. Don’t be vague, it’ll only make it harder to stay on track.
Lastly make it measurable, keep on track and measure your progress, it’ll make it easier to see what you have achieved and make realistic and specific goals for the future.
Don’t forget to reward yourself too..! Include a local cafe into your walk for a halfway treat (plus supporting local businesses along the way).
What types of exercise and how to make them hill specific
Without sounding too obvious here; walking is one of the best things you can do to support your hill fitness, think about ways you can walk more often.
Why not walk with the kids to school or wake up a little earlier and walk whilst the sun rises and get some gorgeous photos.
If walking is already part of your daily routine, ratchet it up by adding your full hiking pack. It will add some extra intensity to an otherwise easy walk, the added weight will work your muscles harder and burn extra calories.
Alternatively (or as well as) pick up your pace and aim to cover a certain distance in a specific timeframe, use mapping apps to plan a route, apps like Strave, Mapmyrun, phone health apps or Garmin. By picking the pace up your body (cardiovascular system & muscles) will work harder to cope with the extra demands you’re putting it through.
Your body will adapt to these extra pressures over time and become fitter. Remember to increase the effort in a steady and safe way to avoid injury.
If you fancy picking up the pace further, include jogging or cycling into your workouts, jogging is a great cardio workout and puts all your hiking muscles to work, if there’s any uphills in your 5km put them to use and plan your route to include them in.
If you want to work on uphill fitness look no further than your stairs, challenge yourself to climb the height of the Dublin spire by climbing 50 times or a bit more challenging 360 flights of your stairs will get you to the top of Slieve Donard in the Mourne Mountains. (3871 flights of stairs will get you up Mount Everest!!)
Yoga is great for flexibility and strength, the internet has endless resources to get you moving, check out your local yoga studios for online class options.
With a vaccine on the horizon hold on tight as the mountains will be there when restrictions are lifted and you can travel to the hills once more. In the meantime check out what hikes Mountaintrails have scheduled for 2021 and plan for the future.