Staying in shape is such a key ingredient to successful adventuring, and to having good mental and physical health. I have a variety of exercises and activities that I do, to help train for adventure, and stay healthy.
My all-time favorite activity, is walking. I could possibly keep putting one foot in front of the other, forever, if life allowed. I have a treadmill, and in moments of stress, I can put my headphones on, get on my treadmill, and walk until I feel relaxed again. I rarely run on my treadmill, because that is no fun, but I will often listen to audiobooks, read books, do online research, and watch Netflix. This is my most frequently used wintertime indoor exercise activity. Even better yet though, is walking outdoors, because this means I also get sunshine and get to exercise the dog. In my new schedule working for myself, I will often fit in afternoon walks or runs with the dog, and have a route along country roads from my house, that I do 5-7 miles on.
I have found that I need exercise daily, and while some days that exercise can simply be cleaning the house, I typically try to get in at least 45 minutes of exercise. In the winter, this can come in the form of workout videos, if I don’t choose the treadmill, and I often mix things up, so there is a variety. I love doing Tai Bo, and joke about my boyfriend Billy Banks, who sometimes makes me cry. This is a good full body exercise, that works all the muscles and gets some cardiovascular in. I have several DVD’s to choose from, with workouts lasting between 45 minutes and one hour. I balance these exercises out with Yoga routines (also on DVD), lifting weights, doing push-ups and sit-ups. All of these exercise can also be done at a gym of course, and this might work better for people, but I prefer to do my exercises for free at home, and don’t require the external motivation of accountability, that a gym family can provide.
Exercising outside is the best, and the goal, and in the winter I snowshoe, while spring, summer, and fall, I hike. Summer is when a bulk of the adventuring happens, with prime season for mountain climbing and backpacking at higher elevation. In training for these activities, I will choose trails with greater elevation gain, do hikes at higher elevation, and will carry extra weight in my backpack, so I can build muscles in my back. I have even been known to walk on my treadmill with a loaded backpack, for training. I don’t typically have to train in the warmer months, because I am constantly out getting exercise, but in the between times, I make sure to keep on it, with walks down the road or hikes on local trails. I also cycle, in all seasons, and am loving taking my new mountain bike on the country roads from my house.
I have a variety of activities that I like to do, and engaging in a variety keeps it interesting, and allows me opportunities to work various muscle groups. I cycle with friends, mountain bike with the kids, rock climb at the gym, go kayaking on lakes, and run 5k’s and duathlons. I love snowshoeing, and will also occasionally go skiing. There is a winter series of 5k’s and duathlons (run and bike) that I do with a group of friends, spanning from December to February, forcing that outside fitness in the wintertime.
When I am on road trips, or traveling, I do my best to fit a good hike in every other day. This helps balance the time spent in the car or on an airplane, and is a fun excuse for exploring areas further. My dog requires daily walks, and I have stumbled upon some spectacular places, during our walks.
Injury is a part of adventuring, and I am particularly prone to overuse injuries. I have had knee pain, hip pain, shoulder pain, lower back pain, and ankle pain, interfere with my mobility. I learn from the pain, and make adjustments, like better fitted shoes, a lighter pack, or taking longer breaks between particularly strenuous activities. Summiting 14ers takes a big toll on the joints. I don’t let pain or injury stop my training or exercise. While some rest is important, it is also important to keep working the muscles so that you don’t have more problems. I will research exercises and solutions suited for whatever issue I am having, make changes where needed, and choose exercise that allows me to maintain my fitness level while not further aggravating the injured part. I, admittedly, will sometimes push through. No pain, no gain, right?! There is nothing worse than being stuck indoors on the couch, so I will do what needs to be done, to help that healing go more quickly. After I sprained my ankle on a mountain bike ride, I still got out after a good week of rest, but made sure my ankle was well braced, and that I stuck to activities that wouldn’t cause a re-injury. I took a road trip to Montana, and while I wished I could have done more hiking while there, I accepted that it would be a trip heavier on the driving and sightseeing, and that I would come back when healed.
Being in shape for adventuring, helps adventuring suck less. A lot of these activities are hard, and require an ability to push through, even when everything hurts, and the oxygen in the air is thin. I stay in shape so that the suck is less. I also exercise, because my mental health requires it. Especially in the wintertime, when I start feeling stuck indoors, and like the warmer months may never come. For me, exercise is a key ingredient to a happy healthy life.