Are you planning a trek in Nepal? You have made a great choice! Maybe you are wondering whether you need to train? Unless you are really, really fit the answer is a resounding YES! As most treks in Nepal are strenuous and you trek to high altitudes, you need to be able to walk for 6-7 hours each day carrying your day pack on steep and rough tracks. Then there are the steps, endless steps. Some training is advisable.
For a moderately active person training for a trek in Nepal will involve a 12- 16 week program of targeted activity. Not only do you need to think of general fitness but also wearing in your boots, walking with your pack, getting to know your gear and also doing some serious rough track walking. If you have completed at least 12 weeks of training and follow some simple training tips specific to trekking, you will be more likely to have a wonderful experience in Nepal.
Below are 5 tips for training for a trek in Nepal. These tips come from my experience over the years, trekking in several countries.
1. General fitness
Each day on your trek you can expect to walk for up to 6-7 hours. You will be carrying your day pack, if you have a porter, which can be up to 5 or 6kg’s when you include water. If you are trekking independently your pack will be heavier. The track goes up, steeply in most places and can be uneven and rocky or consist of steps – lots of them. The track can be dry and dusty or wet and slippery and all this is at altitudes above 3000m. When all this is added together it is logical that you need a certain level of fitness so devising a program of at least 12 weeks that fits your lifestyle is quite important. Any activities that increase stamina such as running, cycling and swimming are great. If you are running make sure to run outdoors as much as possible to strengthen your lateral stability.
Your boots do the walking and your feet do the talking and sometimes they yell out if they are not happy!
It is so important to walk in your boots many times before you land in Kathmandu ready to start your trek. It makes good sense to buy your boots at least 3 months before you leave so that you can walk in them enough to have them mold to your feet. Get them fitted properly at an outdoor store and preferably buy a size larger because feet can swell when they get hot while walking. Start by wearing them around the house, then build up steadily to walking on a forest or bush track, carrying your pack. Socks are really important so do some research to work out what socks work best for your boots and feet. If you are prone to blisters, try a 2 sock approach using a thin inner sock with a thicker outer sock or maybe both layers could be thin socks. There are many, many great, technical trekking socks on the market and it is worth the effort to look at several options. Wool and fabrics such as coolmax are the better options than cotton or cotton blend fabrics.
Take the time to look after your feet and they will thank you for it every day.
3. Off road walking
Off road walking on rugged tracks in the forest or bush is very different to street walking so organise some weekend day walks to help your training. These will get you used to walking on uneven ground and walking up and down over rocks and different combinations of soil and loose rock. These walks are an opportunity to walk for several hours carrying your day pack filled with the items you will have in it on your trek.
4. Multiple day walking
A good idea is to organise two day walks over a weekend to experience what it is like to walk for seven hours on day 1 and then walk again the next day for another seven hours. This will give you an idea about how you will feel the next morning after a long day’s trekking. It will actually give you confidence that by the time you have pulled on your boots, loaded up your pack and taken a few steps you will feel OK!
5. Pack walks
This is something I only started doing before my last trek and I wish I had thought of it sooner. This form of training is an early morning or evening training walk from home with a pack that is a bit heavier than the weight your day pack will be. I found that going on these walks twice a week strengthened my shoulder and back muscles and were quick and easy way to get some hill climbing. I used a pack weighing 8kg for the walks while my day pack for trekking was between 4 and 5 kg. Place weights – water bottles, bricks, books or similar into your pack and walk in your boots and even your trekking gear around the streets, finding as many long, steep hills as possible. If there is only 1 hill nearby, walk up and down it a couple of times. I walked for about 90 minutes and was eternally grateful that I added this to my training program.
The above tips are suggestions to help you devise a training program that suits your lifestyle and the type of trek you are taking. Remember to take along a ‘can do’ attitude, and a plentiful supply of good humour. Relaxing in Tea House after a long day’s walk, chatting with fellow trekkers and guides is a wonderful reward for all your hard work, both before and during your trek.
I always love to hear about your trekking and travel experiences so leave a comment below and I will get back to you within a day or so.