Many people who walk have considered getting into hiking at one time or another and one of the best ways to get yourself ready for hiking is to go out and do a fast or brisk walk. Who can do this? Anyone can if they set their mind to do this and do it on a regular basis. You can start to use fast walking as a way to begin increasing your fitness and to maintain your fitness. It will help you melt the pounds away, tone up your muscles. Walking is also free, enjoyable and already a part of everyday life. All you need to do is correct your technique, walk faster and for longer and you will lose weight. Also because walking is a weight-bearing exercise, it can also help prevent the bone disease osteoporosis. Bones are like muscles in the way that they get stronger and denser the more demands you place on them. Also fast walking will help you to build a base-level for you to start hiking.
But, hiking is fun until you're halfway up a steep trail with an aching back, quivering thigh muscles and burning lungs. But with some conditioning, you'll feel great, have more energy, and avoid posthike pain and stiffness.
The best aerobic exercise for conditioning for hiking is, of course, to go out hiking or backpacking. This is not always practical to do three times a week however. There are many other things you can do. One of the best ways to mimic the activities of hiking and backpacking is to do a brisk walk. Just getting out for a brisk walk will do a great deal towards increasing your fitness for hiking. The key is consistency. It is important to do conditioning a few times per week. The more diligence you show in your conditioning efforts, the more happier you'll be on the trail. Trained muscles are less susceptible to injury and strains
Spring weather is here and resulting in more daylight hours. I will be setting up to do fast walking on the south side of Falsecreek (Yaletown side), as this area is well lit in the evenings. I will start by doing this twice a week and may increase it to three times depending on demand.
Depending on who signs up, I will spend some time with people who are new to fast walks and who would like to know the correct techniques for walking fast. We will work on building a pace and consistency in our steps. The route we will be taking will be approximately 10k. We will set a goal of doing this in 1.5 hour consistency.
Struggling to keep up can be a drag on a hike. Doing a hike will improve your overall fitness but usually not your speed. If there is enough interest, we will use the last half hour to improve our speed by practicing what is called "interval training". We will be begin by doing two-minute interval at high intensity alternating with 2 min. at a more moderate pace. We will learn to push our heart rate to our anaerobic threshold, recover, then do it again. With intervals, our key will be to focus not on going "hard" but on being fast and nimble. If we were to do intervals two to three times each week, we will see an improvement in your speed in a matter of weeks.
To increase our muscular and leg strength and to mimic carrying a load on a hike and backpacking, it is recommended that you carry a backpack. You can begin by carrying 10lb using our backpacks and gradually increasing it.
At times, we will also be doing some stairs, usually on the south side of Falsecreek, under the Cambie Street Bridge. The real stress on your body isn't going up. It's going down. We will carry our backpacks and go down two steps at a time, which puts our knees at a more realistic climbing angle. The key is to come down slowly, two steps at a time. This helps stabilize the muscles in our core, improving our balance as well as our strength. Many people complain about their knees after a hike and this exercise will help you to strengthen all the muscle around your knee and prevent knee problems.
Balance is perhaps the most important when it comes to walking and hiking. If there is enough interest, after each fast walk we will spend some time practicing our balance. Everyone can improve their balance. And it's a myth that we lose it as we age. What really happens is that we practice it less. So we will be practicing balance each and every time we do fast walks by seeing how long everyone can stand on one leg and then alternate. Then we will try the harder version of this, standing on one leg with your eyes closed. Aside for doing it here, you should practice this daily as balance is very important in hiking. We will add additional balance exercises with time permitting.
Who can do this? Everyone can, whether you are a beginner or a seasoned hiker. The key here is consistency. Conditioning for hiking is important if you want to become a better walker or hiker.
Join me for a fast walk on the north side of the Falsecreek area at 5:30pm with a 15 minute waiting period.
We will walk from Science World and pass through Olympic Village. We will pass under the Cambie St, Granville St, and Burrard Street Bridge and end up at the water fountain at Kits Beach. We will take a break here and then retrace our steps back to Science World.
Time: 1 hour and 45 minutes, including a 5 minute washroom break at the halfway point.
Round Trip: 10.5 km (6.6 miles).
Elevation Gain: 10 meters or less.
Pace: Usually between 4.5 km/hr and 5.2 km/hr (around 2.9 miles/hr).
Click here for a link of the entire route.
There is ample parking along Quebec Street and the side streets. Most of us are parking along First Avenue because there is always parking there and also to avoid the traffic whenever there's a Canuck's game. So if you happen to park on Second or First Avenue, a few of us will be walking back to our cars. Also, please post your location and we'll see if we can carpool. Buses and Skytrain accessible.
We will meet and wait a few minutes and start at 5:45pm SHARP and meet at the entrance to SCIENCE WORLD.