The majority of people taking part in these events are not usually experienced trekkers/cyclists. It is therefore imperative that you follow a reasonably serious course of training in order to get the maximum benefit and enjoyment from the challenge.
The amount of training required will depend on your current level of fitness. If you haven’t exercised for some time you should seek your doctor's advice before beginning training. When exercising always make sure you warm up and cool down, stretching major muscle groups to avoid injury.
These challenges may appear daunting if you have never done anything like this before, but they are not competitive so there are no prizes for getting into camp first and you will be encouraged to walk/cycle at your own pace. The Ultimate Travel Company staff and guides will offer you plenty of support and encouragement to help you complete and enjoy the challenge.
If you have not walked for some time, you should begin by walking 2-3 times a week for around an hour. Whatever your level of fitness, it is better to do four separate hour long walks then one long walk per week.
Once you get in to your training you should increase weekend walks to around three hours with one or two stops on route. Build up the hours you are walking, so that one month before the event you can hike for 6-7 hours a day over undulating terrain. We strongly suggest that you take a weekend off and trek on both days, this will get you used to walking when you are already tired from the previous day.
Whilst training outside, you should always wear the boots and socks that you plan to wear for the event. You should also get used to carrying a small daypack weighing around 4-5kg.
Your daypack should include water, snacks, a compass and a small medical kit. Always tell someone where you are going and roughly what time you will be back. Please remember to take your mobile phone with you if possible.
We strongly recommend that you use trekking poles while on the trip as they will be a great help with your balance when on uneven terrain and will also take some of the pressure off your knees. It is a good idea to practice with these in the UK so you can get used to using them correctly.
It is always better to train outdoors, but work and family commitments may make this difficult during the week. In this case you should do other forms of exercise, join a gym and ask a fitness instructor to set a program for you. Stepping, jogging, uphill walking and aerobic classes will all help to increase your overall fitness and stamina.
If you have not cycled for some time you should begin with a couple of half-hour rides per week. After two weeks you can increase to a third ride of approximately 45mins and after a month a fourth ride of one hour. After two months you should be doing up to 2 hour long rides three times per week. As the day of departure draws closer, you should be able to cycle comfortably for 5 to 6 hours on hilly terrain. Preferably take a weekend off and cycle on both days, with regular breaks every couple of hours. This will get you used to cycling when you are already a little saddle sore from the previous day.
Whatever your level of fitness it is better to ride for four half-hour rides per week than one ride of two hours. Regardless of weather, it is always better to train outside than on a bike in the gym, although incorporating both in a training program will help to give you a better overall level of fitness.
Things to Practice while Training
Whilst training outside you should try to get used to the following:
- Cycling with wind resistance
- Drinking from your water bottle while riding
- Hill climbing
- Long periods of time in the saddle
- Cycling off-road – on gravel, sand and rough terrain
Off-road cycling and mountain biking
Off-road cycling is very different to on-road cycling. Routes along forest tracks and sandy gravel tracks are much slower so you will need to learn how to control your bike on such terrain.
The gears on your bike will assist you. Learning how to use them properly will dramatically improve your cycling ability. You should practice changing gear while cycling uphill (into a lower gear, so the pedaling becomes easier and quicker). When you are cycling fast on-road, you should be in as high a gear as possible (harder to pedal, but faster on flat terrain). Try to get a good balance so you don’t strain your knees or tire yourself out.
Make sure your saddle is at the correct height; otherwise you may suffer pain in your knees or legs. When you are in the saddle, your toes should just touch the ground. If you are not used to having your saddle so high, raise it a little at a time.
During your training do not forget to wear a cycle helmet, keep hydrated, carry a small medical kit and a puncture repair kit. Always tell someone where you are going, roughly how long you will be and if possible take a mobile phone with you just in case you have any problems.