#3: Work on my fitness
My favorite trips tend to be the ones where I walk all day long – through city streets, up a mountain or along miles of sandy shoreline. Nothing beats the satisfaction of resting tired legs at the end of the day with a full heart and a beer raised to the setting sun.
Because I spend a lot of time sitting in front of a computer, I need to do a little body prep before heading out on a trip. Granted, my legs are strong from daily runs, but they lack the muscle required to hike up and down dirt paths or uneven cobblestone for an extended period of time.
To get my quads and ankles strong, I’ll walk up and down my office building’s fire escape a few times. Nothing burns like 26 flights of stairs. I legitimately ran out of air once and thought I was going to die in that dimly light stairwell. That experience, however harrowing, did help grease the skids for the lung-sucking effects of skiing at 12,000 feet in Summit County.
Training for long-haul hikes or backcountry camping trips is always interesting. It’s hard to anticipate what’s going to happen “out there,” so I tend to get pretty anal about the aspects of my fate I can control.
I had never attempted to hike through a river prior to tackling the 16-mile, top-down hike of Zion’s Narrows. Rather than focus on the many unknowns, I instead focused on making sure I could carry a pack filled with my weight in Pemmican bars without encountering major chaffing.
Thirty hours later, I emerged from the water well-fueled and without any trace of chafe. However, my feet were dead, bloody stumps held together by neoprene socks. I now know to respect my feet above all else and the importance of completing a few practice runs beforehand.
There’s not much conditioning required for a beach vacation, but I will do a little upper body work mainly out of vanity. It’s nice to have a some muscle definition in my torso region if I’m going to be running around half-naked all day. I also like to think that I’d be able to rescue myself from the waves of the ocean should the situation get a little out of hand.
However, the most important aspect of pre-trip body prep is to give myself time beforehand to relax. Luke and I habitually return from vacation five pounds lighter and utterly exhausted from having so much fun. It’s a good idea to stock up on sleep and water a few days out to head-off early trip fatigue. I don’t mind being tired at my desk afterward, but sleeping away precious vacation time is a sin I’m not willing to commit.