To enter new territories, to live experiences immersed in uncontaminated natural areas or in small villages around the world. We do it because we are travelers, we need to take back our spaces and our times to really know the places we visit.
We must not forget, however, that walking, as much as it is a gesture inherent in human nature, still needs training. If we then decide to take a longer trip than usual, maybe a week in a foreign country where you will walk more or less every day, the athletic preparation becomes really important.
In this article I wanted to address a few issues related to athletic preparation for and during a trek.
To train it is better to walk a little and often
To train to walk you need to be consistent. Going out once in a while and walking for hours won’t help. The only effect will be to suffer pain the next few days and probably having to allow yourself a break from training to recover strength.
It’s much better to be gradual, start with short, flat runs and then intensify your effort from week to week. A good strategy would be to start with a 20-minute walk a day and then increase the duration of your outings by 10% each week.
Stretching will help you feel better
Stretching after an excursion reduces the possibility of injury, helps prevent contractures and other muscle problems and accelerates the recovery process.
That’s why once you’ve finished your trek, it’s important to take some time to stretch your legs, better if you do it as soon as you’re done walking, before you even get back home in the car.
Ten minutes is enough to do some stretching exercises, the muscles to which to devote more attention are the adductors, quadriceps, and hip flexors.
Strengthening posture to prevent injury
The first thing to pay attention to is obviously the step, it must be safe and decisive. First you lean the heel and then continue to the tip of the foot, a typical rolled step, when you are flat, while on descents the weight is shifted to the forefoot.
Having clarified what concerns the step, we can move on to strengthening our physical structure. Let’s see some exercises to do in the gym to prepare the muscles directly involved in the walk:
Squat: One of the most suitable exercises to strengthen the lower part of the body. To do this, keep the legs parallel to the width of the shoulders with the tips of the feet slightly outward. After that, bend your legs as if you wanted to sit on a very low stool, leaving your heels on the ground. →8 repetitions for 3 series.
The sinkings: Another essential exercise that strengthens many of the muscles involved in the walk. To do this you start from an upright position with parallel legs, after which you bring forward only one leg by bending the knee and keeping the tibia perpendicular to the ground. The leg that remains behind is lowered with the knee bent until it almost touches the floor. The torso remains upright.→ 8 repetitions for 3 series alternating the legs.
The ankle: To strengthen the ankle, one of the parts of the body at greatest risk of injury during walks. You have to go up a step with both feet, push to get up on the toes and then go down bringing the heels below the step.→ 10 repetitions for 3 sets.
Add repeats to your training to prepare for the climbs
Training with repetitions means alternating periods of moderate effort in walking, with situations of more intense effort, followed by adequate recovery.
This type of training prepares us to deal with uphill and downhill during the trek, in fact it accustoms our body to deal with changes in intensity in the walk.
Repeats are classified into short, medium and long with variable intervals. The number of repetitions to be performed should be calculated in such a way that the final mileage covered is equal to the distance you usually walk when you train (not the distance of the paths that you are going to walk).
After the effort, let’s remember to recover. The aim is to dispose of lactic acid and accumulate new energy.
In practice, the repeated are variations in the rhythm of the walk. We begin by walking at a moderate speed for fifteen minutes, after which we accelerate the pace for five minutes by straining our body, after which we slow down for the time necessary to regularize the breathing.
Only at this point will we resume a moderate walk for another 10/15 minutes, then accelerate again the pace and so on.
Rest is part of training
A typical weekly training cycle for trekking alternates between days of hiking and days of strength / flexibility, with a full day of rest per week.
After a maximum of 12 weeks of training, it is important to take a full week’s rest.
Rest periods are as important as training days, through training you stimulate and “crisis” the body that reacts with the so-called supercompensation. The processes of improvement and muscle growth take place during rest.
Having a training table that does not provide adequate rest periods leads to overtraining, which has as one of its consequences a decrease in anabolic hormones and an increase in catabolic hormones (especially cortisol), lowering of the immune system, loss of muscle mass and increased susceptibility to infections and injuries musculo-tendons.
There should always be a proportional ratio between training intensity and rest, the greater the intensity of work and the greater the recovery time between training sessions.
You should strengthen your centre of gravity
All the movement comes from what is called the “core”, or the center of gravity of our body, which supports us and supports in many daily activities, including the path.
The core consists of the muscles that protect and support the spine:
- Abdomen rectum
- Oblique and transverse
- Spinal directors
- Big buttock
- Medium buttock
- Lata band sensor
It is important not only to strengthen the muscles, but to do so in a coordinated way, trying to train so that they develop in a harmonious way and allow our body to be properly balanced.
The balance and the ability to overcome obstacles on the path are largely due to them, which is why it is so important to do targeted exercises for trekkers.
The importance of hydration
A good part of the well-being during our walks is due to the correct hydration, essential to keep the body always perfectly “working”.
One of the first consequences of a low level of fluid in the body is the onset of cramps. In fact, the reduced presence of fluids outside the cells creates a crushing and over-excitation of the nerve endings, which spontaneously discharged an impulse that causes those involuntary muscle contractions typical of cramps.
That’s why it’s good to drink a little but at regular intervals of 20/30 minutes.
For the same reason, it is also important to maintain a balanced relationship between hydration and electrolytic condition, taking drinks that contain minerals such as potassium and magnesium and sodium.
Your food is your fuel
The path is not the right place to diet. In fact, trekking is an activity with high energy consumption, if the path provides for differences in level can be consumed on average 500 Kcal / hour.
It is a parameter of maximum and very variable, in fact, the age, weight, training and climatic conditions, not to mention the altitude, can have a significant impact on calorie consumption during the trek.
For this reason it is better to leave in the fridge of the house light foods in favor of something very caloric and, importantly, easily digestible. These characteristics are found, for example, in whole grains and dried fruit.
It is better to eat little but with a certain frequency, at least every hour, so as to remain light but have a stable blood sugar level. In case you intend to go trekking for several days, the diet becomes even more important, in fact you should not miss foods that contain fat, carbohydrates and proteins.