Training for Himalayan trekking
Training for Himalayan trekking
Home to some of the highest and most staggeringly beautiful peaks in the world, a trek in the Nepalese Himalayas is a demanding undertaking, regardless of your current fitness levels. While Everest was conquered by Tenzing Norgay and Sir Edmund Hillary back in the early 50s, the Nepalese Himalayas still exist as the ultimate conquest for mountaineers and trekkers. Whether you’re conquering Everest or spending a few days hiking in the Annapurna region, you will still need to prepare to put your body for the ultimate test at extreme altitudes. Even the most experienced mountaineers will need to prepare physically and mentally for this journey.
When should you start preparing for a trek in the Nepalese Himalayas?
Ideally, you would want to start training as early a possible, as the longer you train, the fitter and stronger you will become and thus, more likely to enjoy the trek without adding any additional stress to your body. As for when you start training, you would want to begin anywhere from 3-6 months before your journey. However, this is completely different for each and every trekker and will depend on what route you will take.
If you have already climbed or hiked at extreme elevation or completed multiple long-distance hikes, then you’ll be in good stead to start your preparation for the Nepalese Himalayas. If hiking and trekking is a new-found passion for you, fear not, as it's never too late to start training and preparing your body for this journey. Most importantly, the biggest mistake that trekkers or mountaineers can make is assuming that exercising regularly at a lower elevation will equate to suitable conditioning to trek through the Nepalese Himalayas. Unfortunately, that is not the case, which means you will need to put in some hard yards before your trek.
Mental, strength and physical preparation
Perhaps the most important part of any training routine is the mental preparation required for any type of endurance trek or strenuous activity. There will be many stages during your journey where you will want to give up and when your body will be physically exhausted, and this is when mental strength comes into play. The best piece of advice is to be patient, use positive visualisation and repeating of mantras or even meditation which can be a great tool to train the mind.
As for strength and physical training, it’s likely that you’re not currently hiking 9-12 kilometres each day while carrying a 5-15 kilogram backpack. If you are, then great! If not, you will need to start increasing the frequency of your hikes in order to build strong muscles in your legs and body. Try squeezing in as many practice hikes as possible. These can vary from multi-day hikes to short day trips, or maybe a combination of both. The most important part of practice hikes is to ensure that you can get a feel for how you move on the trail, how to move at a slower pace and for you to find your rhythm on steep, unstable, rocky trails. During these practice hikes, make sure you wear the hiking boots that you plan on taking to Nepal as you’d want to make sure these are well worn to avoid blisters during your trek.
In addition to completing a few practice hikes, cardiovascular endurance training is essential. To mix up your training routine, try going for a few long-distance runs, spend some time in the pool or ocean swimming laps, or go cycling to help your body become more familiar with various types of endurance training.