Published: February 28th 2011February 28th 2011
Monday night and twenty five days to go. Monday night is my one sociable exercise of the week - a game of football with some of the guys at work. A good bunch and a great game. It usually ends up about 8-6 or something but this evening was quite an exception - we won 3-1 and we actually looked like keeping a clean sheet until about an hour in (no one has ever kept a clean sheet in any of our games). Yours truly missed three and scored none (no big change there though).
So legs aching again but in a good way. There's a strange thing about playing football these days though. I used to run around like a madman (some might say I still do) and dive into tackles and swing my legs at shots with quite some abandon but that's changed now. Since I broke my collarbone in a mostly innocent tackle back in May fragility is a reality so I pull out of tackles a wee bit and I hesitate when I'm about to fling a leg out and smash the ball somewhere in the vague direction of a net. But there's an added hesitation now. I cannot, must not get injured now. If I were to pull something, knock something, break something and not be able to trek, it would be disastrous to the Everest trip.
And it's not just football. When I'm out hiking, I have to do the exercise, I have to hike, but I cannot, must not, twist an ankle. I cannot, must not twist a knee. I cannot, must not pull a hamstring. But I need to keep going. Keep going, keep going, don't spare the legs but spare the legs. Hmm.
So, the training regime. It began like this: Mondays - football. Tuesdays - stretches and weights. Wednesdays - run. Thursdays - weights and stretches. Fridays - run. Every other Saturday and Sunday - back-to-back mountain hikes. The other every other Saturday and and Sunday is allowed for social endeavours like seeing friends and the like.
It's changed a bit since the first plan - mostly because I'm older than I used to be. I followed the regime for the first four weeks or so and realised that, by Tuesday evening my legs we in danger of suffering injuries due to over-use. And that would disastrous (see above). So I tend to do very little exercise on Tuesdays now. Apart from one thing.
I live in England. Not far from Wales and only an hour and half or so from the Brecon Beacons. Despite that, there are no mountains in this country or Wales that even approach anything approaching altitude. You can simulate a long day on a mountain hike by adding big hikes to the end of other big hikes. However, that takes time and it takes travelling time. Also, it's winter. So, by the time I get home in the evening, it's dark. I can run along the front in Clevedon in the dark as there are "street"lights but that's a short run (3 miles round trip).
So how does one gain the type of exercise one would gain by ascending mountains when one is stuck in a mundane, flattened, paved version of the planet in a city and/or town? Well, hiking is about steps. Up, up, up, down, down, down. Short of taking my nephew's suggestion of building a mountain out the back door that I could climb every day (so I don't have to leave him to go find mountains was his theory :), I need to be able to do the exercise indoors really. So, I need to step up and step down. Answer - an up/down stepper. So, I bought one of those and now I do a few thousand steps most evenings (I sometimes sneak in a few hundred when I'm supposed to have a night off too but don't tell anyone). It's by no means the same as hiking but it's not bad actually. And it seems to be working some muscles I seldom seem to use too.
But every other weekend, including this one fast approaching, I need to find mountains. This Friday, I'll be leaving the office in Bristol and heading for the wee hamlet of Dinas Mawddwy in the far southern region of Snowdonia. I've booked myself into a wee b&b (hotel, inn, whatever) for Friday and Saturday nights. Saturday morning I can rise early, drive the few miles west to Minfford and head up and around the glorious horseshoe of the beautifully impressive Cadair Idris. I've been up there once before but it is a special place and I'm looking forward to visiting again. Then back to my wee inn for the night (some welsh lamb and welsh beer having been earned) before rising again Sunday morning and hiking up and around Glascwm. Then head back to my wee flat and try to relax through Sunday eve before beginning the week again. That's why Tuesdays (after footie monday eve) tend to be a time to pause for an evening.
All this feels like a treadmill that is not going to stop until I return from Kili towards the end of June. It's a strange way to exist.
I have one other other major pastime in this existence - organising, preparing, and testing out kit. Some other eve I'll itemise some of that in case it helps anyone who's planning anything similar.
For now, that is all mi amigos - my eyelids are drooping.