Rowan Smith of Summit Strength reveals what it takes to reach your dream wilderness goal.
"My earliest hiking memory is doing bushwalks with my dad on our local trails in Garigal NP, NSW. We used to go hunting for tadpoles, exploring the rivers and gorging ourselves on trail mix. Those are memories I really will treasure forever.
Initially, I fell into personal training for trekkers when I returned to Sydney after living abroad and I got a job in an altitude gym. Here I was exposed to hikers, trekkers and mountaineers of all shapes and sizes who were preparing for some incredible goals. But I realised there was one big problem … no one really knew how to prepare!
The information available to them online was pretty rubbish. And most trekkers who were seeking professional help were getting trained just like any other average Joe, with no thought to the specific needs of the trail. So I knew it was an opportunity to combine my skills and experience as a coach, as well as my passion for adventure, to make a genuine impact on people's lives.
The training for every client changes per their needs and goals, but generally it will be a mixture of structured strength training, hiking specific conditioning sessions, targeted mobility training and, of course, hiking!
Some of the classic adventures my clients are training for are the big 'bucket list' items, such as Kilimanjaro, Everest Base Camp, Kokoda or the Pacific Crest Trail. Saying this, some are just getting into hiking and want to feel more comfortable on the trail, some are trying to prepare for their first full pack hike, and some are trying to overcome long term issues like foot, knee or back pain.
The benefits of having a professional trainer prepare you for a personal goal comes down to three big things:
- You can ensure you get the most improvement in fitness, strength and endurance with the least amount of effort (sure you can often get ready for many adventures by doing hours and hours of hiking, multiple times a week, but not many of us have that luxury)
- You can ensure you are avoiding and preventing common aches and pains associated with hiking (things like foot, knee and back pain are so incredibly common for hikers. A professional can ensure you prevent this happening in both your training and during your adventures)
- You will get the support, advice and accountability you need to succeed (so anytime you have a question, concern or hit a road bump, you have someone in your corner ready to help)
Mental preparation is huge for any big adventure. One of my favourite strategies here is setting simple affirmations. These are positive, specific statements that can help overcome negative thoughts. These can have an incredible effect to get you through tough spots on the trail; whether you have a huge ascent you need to conquer, if you are trying to deal with a blister or muscle strain or if you are just fed up with hiking halfway through a big trek! One which I often use myself is "Your legs are strong, you are full of energy, and this is easy!"
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