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Camp and Hiking Fit To Walk

Updated on July 22, 2015
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Know your own fitness, strength and stamina

Endurance (stamina) is the key to adventure backpacking. I have seen muscle bound guys fade after only a few miles and the fastest track athlete lagging behind on a route march. Yes you need strength but you don't need to be super strong and with the range of lightweight camping and trekking equipment available strength isn't a major issue.

Endurance is the tortoises in the hare and the tortoise's children's story. The tortoise goes as fast as it can, which is slow, but it keeps on going and wins the race. Endurance is that ability to pick yourself up and walk those extra few miles even though you are tired and your feet hurt.

Endurance is the ability to get out of that warm sleeping bag and start the day in a positive frame of mind.

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Know the fitness, strength and stamina of your fellow trekkers

In any group of walkers there is always going to be a point walker (the person leading the way) and a tail end Charlie (the last walker in the group), and this is the guy or girl who is going to dictate your pace.

So how are you going to encourage your weakest walker and get the best possible speed from them?

Are you going to leave them at the back with the occasional look behind you to see how far back they are dropping and shout down the line "Come on keep up"?

I have been the tail end Charlie on several occasions and trust me it gets really lonely back there and your moral drops like a stone once the group starts commenting about you.

Tips for encouraging the slowest walker

  • Position them towards the front
  • Pair them with best motivator in the group
  • Encourage them with positive comments

“Consider a short break. A hot drink and some chocolate can boast moral”

Things to Avoid when you have a slow walker

  • Avoid leaving them at the back
  • Avoid moaning at them
  • Discourage others from moaning at them

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Examples of Positive Comments

  • I’m really impressed at your grit in keeping going.
  • You really deserve a good meal once we stop because you have really earned it today.
  • We have done more today than I thought we would, it’s been a great team effort.
  • I love trekking with my mates, thanks for coming along with us.
  • I’d like you to help me blog about this trip when we get home.

Slow Walker – Considerations for increasing speed

  • If one team member is slowing the team down consider lightening their load. Redistributing anything heavy they are carrying between the other team members will :-
  • Lessen their load
  • Slow the faster walkers down

Above all else – Remember you are a Team

I have been the slowest walker – addressing the balance

  • There have been times when I was the slowest member of the team and I have felt alone, dejected and somewhat of a failure. I was doing my best I just couldn’t keep up the pace and as a result the team slowed down.
  • I wanted to do something to show that even though I was the slowest member of the team I was still a valuable member of the team and as such I did the following once we had established out camp and had our evening meal.
  • I offered to wash and clean all the dishes.
  • I got up first and made a hot drink for everybody.
  • These two small gestures were appreciated and they were just my way of showing that I still wanted to be part of the team.

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Being slow doesn’t always mean unfit

Fitness, endurance and stamina are all important factors impacting upon the speed and distance covered by a team of trekkers, but there are other factors to consider.

Are they dehydrated or hungry?

Have they got painful blisters or foot sores?

Have they packed their pack correctly?

Are they feeling unwell?

We are all different and some days are better than others. Don’t be afraid to speak to your friend and ask them if everything is alright. When I go trekking I eat almost twice as much as normal and always lose weight because I’m burning up the calories. Snacking on fruit or chocolate can very often give somebody a much needed energy boost.

Trekking is supposed to be fun. It’s not a contest.

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