In early February 2018, three friends and I will be embarking on a journey through Patagonia, Chile. This trip is a commemoration of sorts of our #secondhalf as several of us are turning 50. See our post on The #Thisis50 Challenge to read more about how this trip developed, as well as some other ideas for a challenge like this one. The two main criteria for the trip were that it must require some training to accomplish and that it must have a “trip of a lifetime” aspect to it. We settled on a 47 mile trek over 5 days in Torres del Paine, Chile (also known as the W Trek) through the Andes mountains. While the trek is not extremely difficult in nature, it will require 7-9 hours of hiking everyday while carrying a pack containing clothes and essentials, in what can be rather inclement weather (rain, wind and sometimes snow). We will be staying in refugios or hostels along the way which provide a bed and food, so we won’t need to carry a tent or sustenance for the trip (see Packing for Patagonia for more packing tips). In addition, because the altitude is less than 4,000 feet, there will be minimal altitude adjustment. To learn more about how we are prepping for Patagonia see our last blog post – Prepping for Patagonia.
While we four middle aged women are generally all in decent shape physically, this trip requires a bit of training not only to prevent injury, but to allow us to enjoy our time there without too much discomfort. Thus I have embarked upon a training program that increases in intensity as we get closer to February, so I am in optimal shape for the journey. The key to this training program is that I am trying to do as much training outside as possible – mostly to prove to myself that I can get in shape without the cost of a gym and/or expensive classes!
I started by increasing my workouts to 3 days per week at first and now 8 weeks before our trip I am about to increase to 4. My activities of choice include light jogging, stairs, biking, and other outdoor workouts. I get bored really easy so mixing it up is key.
Jogging: I started with 25 minutes outside once a week. Despite the efficiency of a running workout, a combination of foot surgery and bad knees keeps me from being a runner. So this was about all my body could handle at the outset. After about 3 weeks, I increased that jog to 35 minutes and next week I will step it up to 45 minutes.
Stairs: Lower body endurance will be crucial on this trip. I started with a stair regimen in Fort Greene Park. We are lucky enough to have a park nearby with great opportunities for a workout. There are 99 steps near the monument in the back of the park that make for a terrific workout. Six laps up and down were a good start for me. After about two weeks, I increased that to 8 laps and then to 10 laps. This week, I added a weighted backpack (about 15lbs) and was only able to do 5 laps with the pack and 5 without. Next week I’ll up that to 8.
Biking: Biking is one of my favorite pastimes but I don’t own my own bike. I am a huge fan of shared bike programs and use NYC’s Citibike every day. I save a ton of money in cabs and get quickly from one place to another (annual membership is $163). I also use the Citibike for workouts like this one.
I grab a bike at the kiosk near my house and bike the one mile to Brooklyn’s Prospect Park. One loop around the park is 3.75 miles. Members can keep a Citibike out for 45min so the mile from my house and one loop around the park makes it just about the right length of time. I return the bike right outside of the park and while I’m waiting the required 2 minutes before you can pick up another one, I do some walking lunges around the kiosk. Then I grab another bike, do one more loop around the park and back home – total trip about 9 miles. Note: there is a huge hill at the back end of the Prospect Park loop – great for the leg muscles.
At home: I don’t want to let days of inclement weather keep me from working out. An indoor regimen of building quad and hamstring muscles helps protect against knee injury. With no additional weight, I started with 2 sets of 20 walking lunges interspersed with 2 sets of 20 regular squats and 2 sets of 20 wide stance squats. I end with some bridge exercises for the hamstrings. This doesn’t take more than 20-25 minutes. Finish off with 10 min of your favorite abdominal exercises and you have a perfect 30 minute workout. Over time, this can be increased to 3 sets and/or adding weight.
The playground workout: best done with a friend! There are so many great workouts that can be done in a local playground. Here are a few ideas:
- On park benches – push ups, step ups and dips
- On monkey bars – pull ups, leg pull ups
- On ladders – step ups, kick backs
- On U shaped bars – Rows in 3 positions – hands close together, hands at 11 and 2, hands at 3 and 9.
- On swings – knee tucks, split squats, push ups
Share some of your outdoor workout ideas here! Happy travels.