The blogosphere and the TGO Challenge Message Board are both remarkably silent on how people train for the TGO Challenge, although Robin www.blogpackinglight.wordpress.com has put his head above the parapet and outlined his regime.
|Hyperdog training at the Back o' Skiddaw
|Bleak Skiddaw House on a recent wet training walk
From what I have gleaned, though, fitness preparations for the Challenge fall in to several categories, real or claimed by various Challengers:
- Some walk so regularly in the hills that they retain their fitness and do not need to worry about it.
- Some profess that their training amounts to no more than frequent trips to the pub followed by a stroll around the local park on the first Sunday in May.
- Others seem to go on two or three longer trips come March and April.
- And (the majority?) fit in what day walks they can around all their other commitments, often with a rucksack loaded with a few bricks or several tins of baked beans to add a bit of weight.
And I guess there are a number of variations and combinations on the above.
I fall into the latter category, although I will also soon be participating for the first time in the infamous April “daunder”, organised this year by veteran challenger and all round good egg Alan Sloman alansloman.blogspot.com which will be in the North Lakes. I have a suspicion that this will be arranged in such a way that it will involve practicing all aspects of the Challenge ie it will involve bog, rain, scenery, hip flasks, cheese and the pub.
To digress slightly, readers of this blog with good memories may recall that I suffer from a condition my wife refers to as “Skod”. For those of you without medical or psychiatric training I should explain that Skod is an acronym for “Some Kind of Disorder”. Symptoms are many, but include rotating plates and crockery in the kitchen so it all gets used the same amount, and thus wears out evenly, along with ensuring mug handles point west and jug handles east when they are put away in the cupboard, and making lists. I have lists of everything. So I have records of all the training walks I did for the 2013 Challenge which, I should say, were not very extensive. Thus, I can tell you that between the end of November 2012 and the end of April 2013 I did 18 training walks, 9 of which were in April, averaging 15.67 km each in distance, and with an average height gained of 408.44 m. Pack weights carried varied from 6kg to 13.7kg. Look, I know this is tedious stuff, but please make allowances. I do have Skod you know.
For one reason or another I have done far less walking over the last 8 or 9 months than I would have liked. Thus, my fitness levels are lower than they have been for a long time, and before Christmas I decided that I should start to train for the 2014 TGO Challenge this May and that I needed to do more than last year. However, the best made plans are paved with good intentions, as they say. Or some such. There is nothing like a mixed metaphor. Anyway, my training so far has been half hearted and I need to move it up a gear if the first few days of the Challenge are not to be a pain in the proverbials. Proverbials, in my case, being my calf and thigh muscles which have been fecked, as Father Ted might say, since two major back operations played havoc with my sciatic nerve, and a more recent DVT did for the blood circulation in my thigh.
|The old Greenside mine, now outdoor centres, above Glenridding
So recent weeks have seen me out and about. Not a lot, but I will be trying to do more. I walk hyperdog two or three times a day but I don’t count that as training. For me a walk becomes training once I put a pack on.
|Catstycam on my walk up Red Tarn Beck: Hyperdog's first encounter with snow. He wasn't certain at first, then ate it like it might never fall again
I have had three 15km strolls along the lanes near the house, and covered shorter distances, but with more height and roughness involved, on a couple of 3 hour hikes on the Long Mynd in Shropshire, a very wet 3 hours Back o’ Skiddaw, another 3 hours by Red Tarn Beck on Helvellyn, and yesterday I was on the Berwyns in mid-Wales, when it was far colder and claggier than expected. Hyperdog has been my companion on these walks, as the photographs testify. I haven’t yet had the heart to explain to him that his training is in vain and he will not be on the train to Scotland come May.
So apart from the weight on my back, neither distances or height climbed have yet been close to replicating those involved in a day on the Challenge.
|Heading up Moel Sych in the Berwyns.
|Llyn Lluncaws in the Berwyns
|Neither of us were impressed with the boggy ground coming off Moel Sych
|Heading down to Tan y Pistyll
|Tan y Pistyll in the Berwyns
But the met men say that air pressure is rising and I hope to be up in the Lakes next week…..