Of course, you can find yourself at the foot of Mount Kilimanjaro, for example, without any high-altitude or even hiking experience. If you are enthusiastic about climbing the highest point in Africa, you may find yourself standing on top and waving merrily at the camera lens!
High-altitude trekking without good basic fitness is hard work. It is clear that worn legs and blisters are traces of pride for a beginner in the mountains. And in return, of course, you will get stunning mountain scenery, breathtaking panoramas. But the better you prepare, the easier and more enjoyable it will be to enjoy such a difficult journey as high-altitude trekking.
You don't have to be an athlete to reach Everest Base Camp in Nepal or climb Mount Toubkal in Morocco. Trekking is available to everyone - you just need to reasonably assess the strength and prepare.
Here are some tips for preparing for your first high-altitude hike:
1. Start walking more - now
Perhaps this is the most obvious advice. However, walking is the best way to prepare for a long distance in the mountains. You can start with walks in the city - start with a short distance and gradually approach the distance of one day of the upcoming trekking. You can take a day off so your body can recover. It will be great if you can walk 4-6 hours a day.
2. Strengthen your heart (and other muscles)
Along with long walks, incorporate other cardio workouts into your daily routine to strengthen your heart and other muscles in your body. Cycling is good for strengthening leg muscles, while swimming is great for all muscle groups. If you work out in the gym, pay special attention to workouts that strengthen the muscles of the legs and back, with squats and lunges, as well as elliptical and bicycle machines.
3. Exercise in any weather
It's also unlikely that ten days of perfect weather will come your way, so prepare for any conditions. Go out for a walk in any weather: cold, windy, rainy, warm and humid (of course, where possible!).
4. Climb stairs whenever possible
Climbing stairs or subway escalators is also good for strengthening your leg muscles, so take the stairs instead of the elevator every time you get home or exit the subway.
5. Practice on different surfaces
Once you're on a course, you're unlikely to walk on flat footpaths and park paths, so avoid training on flat roads only. Instead, try training on surfaces that look like trails on a track. If you're heading to Everest or Kilimanjaro, try training on a steep, rocky, or loose slope. It is very important to prepare your feet, ankles and knees for the stress they will experience on the trip.
6. Take trekking poles for training
When walking the loose trails of Kilimanjaro, trekking poles will be your best friends. They take the pressure off your knees on the descents and give you extra support on the ascents. Take trekking poles with you when you decide to walk - you need to get used to them. Nordic walking will make your workout more effective.
7. Walk with a backpack
On many trekking routes you will travel light, but you will need to carry a small backpack with essentials (camera, provisions and water, sunscreen, rain protection, etc.). To prepare for this, carry a backpack during your hiking sessions. You can buy one in camping store. Make it a little heavier than it will be on a hike.
8. Don't skimp on shoes
Your feet are your most important body part when hiking, so don't skimp on trekking boots. It is important that your feet get used to the new shoes, so wear them always and everywhere: at training, shopping and at work. This will help you avoid blisters and lost toenails. I also recommend stocking up on a few pairs of really good hiking socks (preferably a wool/nylon blend) that will absorb moisture and keep your feet dry.