General principles of training plans for walking
The mountain environment is full of challenges at all levels, with great rewards when these challenges are conquered. Regardless of our focus, whether it's hill walking in the Chilterns or the Brecon Beacons, the Alps or Himalayan giants, in order to improve performance you must have a training and fitness plan.
A training plan will also provide you with a record of improvement and help maintain your motivation
As well as being a tool to improve your fitness, a training plan will also run parallel to your goal setting and not only provide you with a record of your work and improvement but will also help to maintain your motivation for whatever challenge you have set yourself.
Designing a plan
Before putting a training plan together there are several fundamental principles to consider. Once you have the answers to these basic questions you can begin to map out your training plan:
- Is it medically safe for you to train?
- What is your current level of fitness?
- What are your walking or mountaineering goals and objectives over the next year?
- Can you commit quality time to implementing your plan?
If you are unsure of your basic health, or if you've not been very active for a while, visit your local doctor for advice before you embark on an ambitious training plan. If you require more objective knowledge, enquire at your local sports centre or fitness club to see if they run any fitness testing sessions, to get some benchmark fitness information. If your interest is in any mountaineering then you're bound to have some definite goals and objectives. Write them down somewhere obvious, so that you can remind yourself about them on a regular basis.
You're bound to have some training objectives
For most people, mountaineering usually consists of two main seasons, summer and winter.
Sports coaches call the process of long term planning for your activity 'periodisation'. To appreciate why this is necessary, think of a car being used every day. To keep the car running in good order it is important that it is serviced at regular intervals. Your body is the same; if it's not looked after properly, sooner or later it will break down.
Here are a few strategies to help you stay motivated:
- Find a partner or group of friends to train with.
- Give each other feedback and encouragement.
- Review your progress at regular intervals (every 4 - 6 weeks).
- Keep your goals current. e.g. photos of your favourite mountain, route descriptions, read about them, go to club nights or slide shows.
You have an outline, now set goals and fill in the training details and enjoy.
Once you have your basic commitment then you need to flesh it out and ink in the days or nights when you'll be training. Generally speaking, your training sessions should not be 'back to back', but you should have a break of at least 24 hours (depending on what you are training eg. Cardiovascular endurance, local muscular endurance, power or strength). You get fitter by allowing your body to recover after the session or exercise period.