How do you prepare physically for a winter Munro round under your own steam? Ben Hunter's latest update.
Ben Hunter is aiming to become the first person to tackle all the winter Munros in a continuous, completely human-powered round using legs, bike and kayak this coming winter and he's blogging about his preparations on OM - links to previous blogs below.
How do you train for a trip of this magnitude?
I'm not sure where to even begin to answer. Let me quickly take you back to when I first came up with the idea of attempting a winter Munro round. I was living in Byron Bay on the East Coast of Australia about two hours south of Brisbane.
In Byron I worked about 50 hours a week as a rickshaw rider. Admittedly the hills in Byron may not be quite as plentiful as they are in Edinburgh but if you have got five people to pedal around, your legs certainly know about it.
As well as riding the rickshaws I would also take people out on sea kayak tours and made it out surfing nearly every day. When you are not good at surfing, and I am definitely not good at surfing, you spend a lot of time paddling your board around rather than swooping elegantly through the waves.
Because of this life style and never owning a car, walking and cycling everywhere, I have returned back to the UK in not too bad a state of health.
Stamina... And Urban Speed Walking
My focus since coming back to the UK has been to work on my stamina. I have never been a sprinter, long distance has always been where I have excelled. However demanding four months of continual exertion from my body is a whole new world compared to what I have done before.
Living just outside of town and the opposite end to where all my friends live, means that I do a lot of walking each day. I have taken to speed walking, seeing how quick I can make it from one point in the city to another. On average I am walking about six miles every day.
Walking in town and walking up a hill are obviously two very different styles of walking. I am trying to get out into the Scottish hills at least once a fortnight just now and down to the lakes to catch up with friends about once every two months.
Hitting The Road...
My dad has recently given me his old Specialized Allez road bike, I think it's the 81 model. Up until about a month ago I had only ever ridden mountain bikes. The Allez that I am ridding now may not be crafted from carbon fibre and it does weigh a little more than the new Laser Ultra 1 (ok poor example, most things are heavier than that tent) but moving from my mountain bike to the road bike is like stepping out of a Land Rover and into a Ferrari.
The miles just seem to slip past those scarily narrow tires in no time at all. I am eagerly awaiting the new model Alfine bike to come in from Genesis Bikes, who are supporting my challenge on the two-wheeled front. When it does arrive I am sure I am going to enjoy cycling that bike as well.
I have found that in the past I can become focused on just running or just cycling. For a more rounded level of fitness I am combining my daily bike rides with two or three medium-length runs each week. A medium distance for me whilst running is around 10 kilometres.
Upper Body Work
Upper body strength for me has always been a weakness. Even as a child I could never hold onto the monkey bars. Before leaving for Australia I was comfortable leading VS up to HVS climbs. Despite climbing regularly both indoors and out and using the pull-up bar and playing around with the weights at the house I was in at the time my strength was never what I would have liked it to be.
I knew after coming back from Australia that despite the kayaking and surfing my arms were not as strong as they were before I left. Since coming back I have set up a little circuit in my kitchen where I can perform dips, seated dips and press ups as well playing around on the pull up bar. I have got to be honest though. I do struggle to motivate myself to do any sort of upper body work especially with all the good weather we have been having recently and I have a nice shiny road bike to go out on.
Skye On A Bike
Later this summer I do have a few long distance events planned including cycling from Aberdeen up to Inverness in a day and cycling from Aberdeen over to Skye to climb the Cuillins. After mentioning to my dad that I was thinking of cycling to Skye he thought I was mad. He then realised that I would be covering this trip in winter with a few hills to climb between Skye and Aberdeen. I think he probably still thinks I’m a little crazy.
I like to think that I eat a fairly healthy, balanced diet. After living with a vegan and a Buddhist, meat meat no longer features promionently in my diet, though I do eat it occasionally. Being able to bulk up or even just being able to put on weight is something that I do struggle with. I am working with the people from Be-Well Expedition Foods on that front and I will let you know if their nutritionist succeed in fattening me up for Christmas.
Ben's blogging regularly on OM, but you can follow his progress day by day on his Facebook page at www.facebook.com/home.php?sk=group_172588479427808&ap=1