About Endurance Walk

From the starting point it seemed easy enough though, especially now that it was only 30km, how hard could that be, compared to 75km of Mossel bay? The route was of loose small rocks at the beginning and everyone was optimistic including your’s truly. I remember saying to one member of the well-known strong teams in the competition that this is going to be ‘child’s play’. I’ve done most of the difficult routes like Mossel bay Vasby, Mossel bay Khoikhoi Stamp, Polsmoor, Kanaland, Gaansbaai Endurance walking competitions to name but the few, so I did not expect much difficulty with Tulbah.

As I sat on top of Tulbah Mountain, thinking if only I could get water, I could exercise this advice (pour water over my head and the back of my neck), and maybe I would feel better, but where was I going to get water from? I only had a half 500ml of energy drink and was hoping to keep that until I could see the next water point a mile away. I had begged my team members to please leave me behind I would be OK and I would find my way back once I feel strong enough. I promised them that if I am not feeling better I would call in and tell them and they would send in help and they promised to call every 30 minutes just to be sure, and they did.

It was embarrassing really, within only one kilometer into the walk I had realized that I was having difficulty breathing. It was like my nostrils were closed, the oxygen I was breathing was not enough to sustain by labored breathing. I was feeling more detached second by second. So I breathed thorough my mouth which was a very bad move. Within seconds it was like I’ve been chewing gravel and swallowed it without full processing it. The pain was so excruciating as if someone had sand-papered my chest inside.

My walking shoes were finding it difficult to stick to the ground, and you can blame that to my legs turning to jelly. I kept on stumbling and was afraid I would break a leg. My heard was swimming and lolling as if I hadn’t have enough sleep. My vision distorted, try though I did close my eyes, when I opened them my vision was still nowhere near improvement. I did not understand what was happening to me. I’ve never been an excellent sports woman even at school level I have to admit. I played to the best of my ability though that could never have won me a Sports Woman of the Year Award, but this was pathetic, I though grudgingly.

I tried all kinds of sports I could get myself into at school but was not an excellent athlete, with the bird frame body I have my primary school teachers always hoped at first, until they realized that I lack the energy to go faster. In athletics, I easily got tired, even at 100m or I would drop the baton, who does that really? Even asthmatic kids did better than me.

So I tried something I knew I CAN DO, walking. Walking is easy right? I mean you walk for kilometers no end but the end result is you’re walking, how difficult could that be? I grew up in very rural areas where walking very long distances was a daily ritual. I had to walk 6 kilometers to and from school every morning and afternoon throughout my junior and high school, raining or not no school bus. Or a long walk visiting friends or relatives living far away, so walking was my thing. I might have not be a serious athlete or played any particular sport with excellence but I knew I could walk.

Maybe it wasn’t so wise after all really boasting that I had competed in the great Mossel bay Vasby 75km for the first time with the known killing beach walk and had earned a bronze medal. Or that I had also competed in the Gaansbaai Endurance walk and came up with a silver, and today I was going to scoop a gold medal. Although I wasn’t just pulling his leg, I just couldn’t help but remind the competition that we were there to win. I had actually competed in almost all the small competitions including the ones I mentioned and received medals although not gold yet and I reckoned I was fit. My team members kept talking about how difficult this route was on our way to Tulbah but I just discarded that as non-optimism.

Try though I did I increasingly found that I actually walked better with my eyes closed. That was impossible though because we were not walking on a tarred road but on a part of route that had a mini-stream with dangerously slippery rocks. I kept on walking and tried to guard my steps but it became difficult with every step. Especially because we were the first team in front and there were groups of people behind us anxious to pass and there was only one path and I was being very slow on it. My team mates tried to put me in front of the team for morale. One dragging me with a makeshift bandage rope tied in my middle and other pushing me from behind but they eventually understood that I was a semi-hospital case.

Someone from another team joked as they passed us and I realized he was from the team I had boasted about my achievements to earlier. “You guys are a strong team ‘dragging a trailer all the way to the finishing line’, typical competitor of cause. Being a hospital case on top of the mountain where no vehicle could ever reach was a very dangerous joke. The closest we had to paramedics in any case were wild-fire fighters, standing at the water points a kilometer apart. Now if I happened to get very sick on that top of the mountain maybe I could get help, but help from a paramedic seemed better than that from a wild-fire fighter.

So I decided that they must leave me there at least I could make my way back to the starting point we had left behind in an hour and some tens of minutes ago. I would rest then make my way half way down and find the support vehicle at half a kilometer back, have lots of water then get back to the starting point with my spikey tail between my shack legs. Although it was very disappointing for my team mates to leave me behind they had to continue now individually with the competition.

I surely had let them down I thought, we were not very good contenders to the gold medal but together we knew we could make it. I was feeling very bad about that more than I was feeling bad about my immediate predicament. I had broken the team spirit, now they had to compete a woman for herself. Every team passing me lying on the ground felt sorry for me and asked if there was anything they could do and I said no, I was fuming inside. Even the elderly teams over 50’s were going strong and I was almost half that age, what was wrong with me? Having trouble finishing even the first two kilometers of the walk.

Lying there I realized that feeling sorry for myself and disappointing my teammates are not every attracting words put together. I was giving up and I felt helpless like that no good for anything child I had been in primary school over again. Oh! And the reality of why I suddenly lost energy hit me, I was even embarrassed to admit to anyone. I did not eat breakfast, I fashionable skipped the every first and most important meal of the day, so I was hungry, jeez! The added strain on my body was draining my energy source and guess what, there was nothing to drain from because there was no food in my stomach, how foolish of me?

I always get anxious so much that eating becomes difficult when I’m going to travel to a faraway place. So I usually just take my food with in the morning and eat when I arrive but that morning we were a bit late and just minutes after arrival the walk was about to start. I couldn’t eat and since it was just a mere 30km I thought that I will make it, but I was very wrong. And guess what? I hadn’t heeded to the organizer’s advice, (if you don’t have back-up help carry some sweets, energy boosting chewable tablets, banana, headache pills etc. in a moon bag around your middle.)

Fuzzy though I was, I was determined to walk and finish my walk, now that I knew I was not really sick but I did not have the strength because I was just hungry. Although I was very behind my team, I was definitely going to finish the walk. Giving up was not an option where I am concerned, and besides endurance walking was a newly found passion, the only thing that I thought I’m good at, giving up on it would be betraying that thought. Jelly feet, shaking hands, swimming head, distorted vision and all, I attempted to stand up and walk. I could not let this Tulbah Mountain defeat me. Even though there were very few birds on that mountain, but those small things appeared be laughing at me, the looser!

Instead of walking back towards the camp though, I was walking up the mountain in the direction of all the other teams that had passed me feeling sorry. I was damned if I was going to give up and be beaten by a 30km route? Never! The first team I passed could not believe it. One wide-eyed member exclaimed, “Did you just wake up from the dead? Unbelievable!” “Oh yeah and I’m here to stay”. I said edging past the team, still weak and shaky but was determined to go forward. As I continued in the route one thing and one thing only was on my mind I was going to complete this route no matter what. I could feel that I was getting stronger and stronger as I went up the mountain. Maybe the sight was helping me to get stronger surrounded by the mountain brush and Cape fynbos, the fresh air on top of the mountain helped me regain my strength.

By the time I made it to the next kilometer I had recovered and feeling much stronger. So my next goal was to catch up with my team mates. They were not going to believe what they were going to see. They kept through to their promise to call every 30 minutes and a few times I told them I was heading back to the starting point. When they called every time after that I would tell them that I’m either nearer the starting point or I have arrived and I’m well. So with that re-assurance they walked on full speed to the finishing line. They were as surprised as every competitor I had passed on the route, when I came into their view a few meters to the finishing line.

They kept asking how I did it. I was definitely a semi-hospital case and they’ve seen that when they left me behind. We made it together with my teammate across the finishing line. Although we did not win the gold medal for the firstplace because of distance between team members and check point reporting technicalities, I was nevertheless proud of myself for enduring!

Getting Started With Climbing

Profile of a mountain climber

A mountain climber must be in excellent physical condition as well as agile. The mountain climber must have an attitude of determination to overcome every obstacle, focused and positive, as well as the predisposition to mind and master safety procedures.

Getting Ready

The best way to prepare is by reading books on climbing. This will help give the mindset you need to climb a mountain. Climbers learn how to make decisions quickly, so access your mental ability to size up a situation and react.

Mountain climbing is a little like learning a dance, but with a terrible, potentially fatal partner! No matter what the season, climbing can be dangerous. Avalanches are alone an unknown killer; between 120 and 150 people die in ice or snow avalanches every year – ski instructors, mountain climbers, etc.

Physical Conditioning

Walking, jogging, long distance endurance training, scrambling exercises up a hilltop, skiing, and swimming are all good ways to get in shape before your first major climb.

Tools and Equipment

When it comes to hiking gear, it’s said that mountain climbers are obsessed with weight, and for a very good reason. No matter how strong you are, be prepared to carry no more than 25% of your body weight. Here is a checklist of what you need to bring. Cotton is heavier than synthetics, which is the reason for the “no cotton” rule. It can vary upon the trip and terrain, but here are some of the basics.

What to wear

Hiking Pants no cotton jeans. Socks, shoes, and sneakers (hiking boots are usually unnecessary). A non-cotton T-shirt, long sleeved with or without a collar and a baseball cap and/or cheap sunglasses.

What to bring

  • A map 1:24,000
  • A good quality Compass
  • Sunscreen (packaged in an eyedropper bottle)
  • LED headlamp with fresh batteries
    Small toothbrush with toothpaste “dots”
  • First aid. This consists of 4-5 band-aids, ibuprofen, Imodium, gauze pads, medical tape rolled onto a plastic straw.
  • For fire building, bring a few Matches, stored in a zip-lock plastic bag. For fire-starter, (essential!) use another other zip lock bag filled with ordinary dryer lint, or cotton balls soaked in Vaseline.
  • You will also need a 1 litre sized water bottle, and a 33 gallon garbage bag to use as a raincoat or emergency shelter.

Climbing Ethics

Never climb alone – bring along friends who are experienced climbers. When you go on your first climb, remember that it is a privilege to climb in a pristine, natural environment. Many climbers adopt a “Leave No Trace” mentality – no garbage left behind, not even smashing flowers as they pass, whenever possible.

Barefoot Running

Wearing a minimalist shoe causes certain modifications of the body that allow the exerciser to do more work with less demand on the body, such as more efficient stride lengths and frequency. And, it’s less fatiguing than running in traditional shoes because it leads to lower energy consumption, thereby delaying the onset of fatigue. Another benefit is that it helps to improve proprioception (the body’s ability to sense stimuli). When a runner isn’t encased in all that running shoe technology, the little sensors in his/her feet can actually feel the surface beneath and then allow the foot to react appropriately-thereby reducing injury and improving balance. And, it helps strengthen all those muscles in the feet and ankles because they are recruited more for support. Finally, most traditional running shoes have a heel lift. By removing this, it helps the Achilles tendon and calves stretch and lengthen, thereby reducing injuries such as calf pulls caused by short, tight tissues.

Now that you have decided to make the switch, transition slowly to running in this footwear because so much more ankle and footwork is required, and those muscles and tendons are not accustomed to the stress. Begin by doing various activities of daily life in these shoes, such as gardening or cleaning the house. Then, begin to adopt a progressive overload approach. For example, wear them for 10 minutes at the beginning of exercise and another 10 minutes at the end. Slowly, add in another 10-minute bout. For the first 2 weeks, keep the total training time to no more than 30 minutes per session. Be mindful of how your feet and ankles feel after wearing the shoes, and slowly progress the amount of time exercising in them as long as you are pain-free.

Beware, however, that there are cons associated with this type of running. As I stated earlier, minimalist shoes don’t offer a lot of sole-support, so one has to be very mindful of the surface upon which they run and be on the lookout for glass, rocks and other sharp objects. And, because one’s calves and Achilles tendons are accustomed to a more supportive shoe, minimalist running may over-stress them in the beginning. So, follow the progressive overload protocol I outlined above. Finally, this type of running may be contraindicated for those with diabetes because peripheral neuropathy (a common complication of diabetes) can lead to a loss of protective sensations in the feet.

Prevent and Treat Pulled Quadriceps

Pulled quads generally happen in runners because of the strength imbalance in the legs. Runners’ hamstrings are used more in the process of running and will get more developed and will be much stronger than the quads. This imbalance causes weakness which can result in a pulled quadriceps.

To treat a pulled quad, you need to use the RICE treatment that most runners are familiar with. RICE stands for Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation. First of all, you want to try to stay off of it for 24 hours. Apply ice to the affected quad. You don’t need a fancy ice pack to do this – you can put ice into a washcloth and use it. You use only ice for 15-20 minutes at a time. For the first 24 hours, if possible, try to ice every 2-3 hours. This will help keep down the swelling.

Apply a bandage to your quadriceps. You can find quad wraps and elastic bandages at any drugstore or grocery store. Also, to help with the swelling, keep your ankle leg elevated. Taking ibuprofen will also help keep the swelling down.

When you continue running again (slowly), make sure that you are stretching properly before starting out and also, try to avoid during any speed work until the quad is completely healed. If you are still experiencing pain after 2 weeks, you should go see your doctor.

To prevent pulled or strained quads, you should implement leg exercises. The best exercise to do is to do leg extensions on a weight bench. If you don’t have access to a weight bench, they can be done with some things you have around your house. Take a couple of cans and put them into a bag. Put you foot through the bag so that the bag hangs from your ankle. Sit on a couch or chair and slowly straighten out your leg until it is straight out in front of you. This simple exercise will help strengthen your quads.

Also, before and after your runs, you should stretch your quadriceps. A great stretch is one that I’m sure you’ve seen many runners do. Stand where you can hold onto a wall or tree for balance. Grab your foot and gently pull your heel toward your buttocks. You will feel this stretch in your quads. Hold the stretch for about 10 seconds. I usually do this about 5 times before and after I run.

Finding Running Zen

Running used to scare me. I would literally run from just the thought of well, running! I never understood when people said to me how much they enjoyed running. How it cleared their mind. It was relaxing to them. What? When I ran, I did it because I had to for cardiovascular exercise. I did it because it was a healthy way to keep my weight in check. I did it because it was part of a training plan. I never did it because it was my “zen”.

I always told people who were “athletes” that I was not a runner. I was not a runner and when I did run I was not a good runner. Then along came the quote above from John Bingham. It got me thinking about all of those other “runners” out there. Were they all athletes and I was not? Were they all born to run? How was it that they were all better than me and I have been incorporating running into my active lifestyle for years and years? I decided to take the quote from John Bingham and apply to ME! I would like for all of you to do the same and apply what is meant for you to you. Perhaps when I share my thoughts, it will allow you to find your running zen. The place that will allow your body and mind to believe that you are an athlete. A runner.

I decided I could no longer compare. We all do it. It is hard not too. We all want to cross that finish line before the back of someone else’s shoes. This is not a bad thing. It is a good self motivation challenge. You need motivation and a goal. I just stopped comparing my time to their time. I had to set my own goal and find what motivated me.

I used to think let me just get this over with. Run as fast as I can so that I can be done. That was a major downfall and played against me for the most part. Not only would i want to go fast, I needed to go far. How was that going to play out for a non running athlete? It was only when I decided to sign up and run a half marathon that I learned a valuable lesson about time and distance. The two do not go hand in hand. If I were to complete the distance I needed to forgo the time. If I was to go for time I could not complete the distance. Make sense? I had to let go of the “let’s just get this over with” mentality. I needed to find my happy pace, my zen pace, the pace within myself that allowed me to go the distance and actually enjoy the journey. I could not believe it. I found what everyone else around me had been talking about. I find the ability to enjoy running.

Reasons To Try Climbing

  • Something unique. Climbing is a unique experience and if you’re getting bored with your usual range of activities it can really inject some excitement into both your social life and fitness regime.
  • Challenge. If you want to feel you have achieved something special then a session on a climbing wall can really deliver that experience, often on your first visit. Gym climbing walls offer the opportunity for a climber to push themselves in a safe environment. Climbing is not just physically challenging but it can also be a great way to help combat a fear of heights. Once you have reassured yourself that your harness is safe and have your sights set on a particular height on the wall that you want to achieve, the motivation to reach it will outweigh the fear – and the feeling when you reach it is priceless!
  • Fitness. Climbing gives an affective full body work out and will engage muscles that you hardly knew existed before. It is fantastic for arm and leg strength, it also provides a great cardiovascular workout.
  • Variety. Once you have mastered the indoor wall you may feel ready for other types of climbing, of which there are many. Bouldering is also becoming popular and provides an alternative for those who may decide that they prefer to stay closer to the ground.
  • Associated activities. If you do venture out of the gym, either for an outdoor man-made wall or for the ‘real thing’ then you will find that climbing is associated with all kinds of other fantastic activities, like hiking, canoeing and camping. Have fun and be safe!

Military Boots for Hiking

Many people don’t know or understand how tough soldiers have it on the battlefield. Many people don’t want to. There are a few experiences the rest of us may have had that allow us to fathom the reality of the kind of harsh terrain soldiers are subjected to: the times we went hiking or trekking.

Some of us take our outdoor pursuits lightly, but more of us don’t. High impact activities such as those that conventionally go under the ‘outdoor pursuits’ category are not for the faint hearted, or legged. Mounting climbing and trekking are often used by people to release significant emotional pressure gaskets. It’s an activity used to burn up excess stores of energy. Bear this in mind before agreeing willy-nilly to take someone up on an offer to go ‘hiking’ with them.

The hardened hikers out there know that there’s nothing worse than trekking for miles up harsh mountain edges with gradients as steep as right angles in crappy footwear. Indeed, the wrong footwear – or even poorly fitting footwear – will likely land a person in an emergency room. Try descending a steep glacial mountain with boots unfit for the purpose and you’ll understand the importance of a high-quality rubber grip on the soul of your hiking boot.

Military boots are amongst the most robust, custom-designed footwear on the market. Considering their purpose, it’s easy to see why this is the case. The makers of outdoor pursuits do closely consider practical design when inventing high-spec footwear ranges and can represent good value for money. However, with military boots, you know that you’re going to be protected from the harshest conditions and elements. It’s a sort of safe bet when you’re unsure what to look for in outdoor footwear.

Ways To Enjoy Hiking

Hiking is a wonderful means to view mother nature herself and get some excellent exercise at the very same time. It is a fantastic method to lower daily pressure and just get away from it all for a while. You may opt to share the experience together with a companion or perhaps backpack on your own, allowing you to clear your head. Hiking is great for body weight control, for your cardiovascular system and circulation, and is a good cardio exercise workout to deal with high blood pressure

If you are scared to hike alone, you will be able to better enjoy yourself if you have your dog come along with you. This way, you will not feel so alone and you will have a little bit of protection as your dog will serve as a deterrent from criminals should your dog look the part.

Another way to make sure that you are going to enjoy your hiking experience is to take your camera along. This way, you will be able to properly document and remember everything that you experience on your journey. You will also have something to share with your family and friends once you get back home.

Take your family along for an adventure of a lifetime. Explore all that there is to explore within nature and give them an education that they simply do not get in the classroom. This is also a great chance to bond with everyone.

Above and beyond all of that, there is the benefit that hiking will give your body the workout that it has been longing for. You will work out just about every muscle in your body. At first, when you come home, you might feel as though you can never handle another hiking trip again. However, if you keep pushing forward, you will realize that this is indeed something that you can handle and you will be much healthier for it. It just a bit of time for your body to get used to this type of training and hiking.

About Types of Carabiners

Straight Gate Carabiners

Straight gate carabiners are the most common type that is currently available. They open, and allow the climber to easily detach the device from whatever ropes that it is currently attached to. They are the easiest, cheapest, and strongest type that is currently available. They have also been used for the longest, and are some of the most trusted types of climbing carabiners that are available.

Bent Gate Carabiners

Bent gate carabiners are just as strong as the straight gate carabiners. They allow things to be clipped in much more easily, as they do not lock. They are also much easier to unclasp. It is recommended that more experienced climbers use these, as they can be easy to detach by accident if you are not paying attention to what you are doing.

Locking Carabiner

The locking carabiners are also very popular. They tend to be the safest, as the climber really has to go out of their way to get these undone. There are different kinds of locking carabiners that are currently available. Some require you to twist a knob in order to get the carabiner off from whatever it is attached to, while others may only require that you push a safety button. These are often given to new climbers who are feeling unsure about the task at hand and would like a little more peace of mind.

Keep in mind that whatever climbing carabiner you decide to purchase, you have to be sure of the quality, with Petzl being one of the most popular and reputable brands.Always make sure that the locking carabiner that you purchase has been certified. You may also want to comparison shop online, as the price of different types can vary greatly from one store to another.

Proper Way To Ice A Running Injury

Icing a running injury is done for several reasons. First of all it will help reduce any swelling that occurs and reduce inflammation. The icing will decrease the blood flow to the affected area which will help reduce the pain. And, just the icing itself will help to numb the pain right away for some instant relief.

You want to make sure that you are getting the ice on the area as soon as you get in from your run. The sooner that you can ice the area, the quicker it will help. Studies have shown that icing really doesn’t help much if you wait 24-48 hours.

When you are icing your injury, move the ice around in a circular motion. You don’t want to let it sit in one spot very long. Basically what you want to do is to have an ice massage over the area. As you are icing, you should keep the area elevated. This will also help keep the swelling down.

Don’t ice the area for more than 15 minutes. You don’t want to ice for too long and possibly cause frostbite. Then, after about an hour, you can begin icing again. You can keep repeating the icing process as long as you allow the area to warm up. Make sure that it is warm again and feeling normal before you start icing again.

My favorite way to ice an area is to put ice cubes in a washcloth and use that for the massage. This also keeps a layer of cloth between the area and the ice. Many runners use ice in Ziploc bags. This works great, also. Another way to have your ice ready is to keep paper cups filled with water and frozen in your freezer. Then you can just peel part of the cut away and use over the injury. And, I’m sure you’ve heard of runners that use packages of frozen vegetables. There’s no need to go out and buy a fancy, expensive ice pack – there are several things that you have around the house that works great.

Icing a running injury is a great way to get back on the roads. Hopefully these tips will help you to do it properly!