Ever lose your endurance during the off season? What about your cat-like agility once you've returned back to work? To maintain peak performance, off the trail, you need to stay focused and motivated. Here are 3 Performance Hacks for the Preseason to help you get prepared for Day 1 of the next hiking season...if there is such a thing.
3 Performance Hacks for the Preseason
Just below are 3 hiker-friendly movement practices that can help your overall performance on the trail. Each of these exercises forces you to use different parts of your body than you would otherwise if you were just out hiking. Not only are these 3 hacks fun and easy to share with friends and strangers, but they require minimal equipment in order to begin implementing them into your regular workout routine.
Performance Hacks #1: Snow Hiking
Theedozer – Mt Ashland
Whether you choose to use snowshoes, skis, a split-board or gym shoes, hiking on snow can be both an exercise and a sport. I appreciate the workout that can be had on the way up, but for me and Theedozer, it’s the competitive drive to improve our downhill game that keeps us climbing.
“It never ceases to amaze me how the weight of my gear – which can seem so heavy on the way up – practically disappears once I start moving down." – Theedozer
Before this hiking season hits, take advantage of the current conditions in the mountains and get well-versed on how to hike in all kinds of snow – from powder to ice. Also, practice persevering thru its subsequent melt-off streams and potential mud bogs which are only going to increase as peak melt-off sets in; likely just in time for your thru-hike!
Performance Hacks #2: Frisbee Golf
For this hack, all you need is a Frisbee and something to throw it at!
Want lessons, from a pro?
Here’s a 2 second tutorial on putting with a link to additional lessons:
WATCH: Pro Disk Golf Putting Lesson
Zoner shows off his putting skills with a distant chain-ringer
Master frisbee golf during the preseason then use your skills on trail to:
Pass things between people without having to get up
Get bear bag lines over limbs
Stay loose on a Zero Day
Performance Hacks #3: Slacklining
WATCH: Zoner’s first time slacklining – Grand Canyon, N.P.
In 2011, I was thru-hiking the Arizona Trail when my teammate C4 and I stumbled into a rope that was tied across the trail. Upon closer inspection, we could see this was no ordinary rope. It was latched tightly and locked into place with several ratchets. A simple yet complex-looking contraption. It was a slackline, and on this day, it was only being used by ghosts. Located just beyond the Phantom Ranch Campground, it was game-changing.
To this day, slacklining is one of my favorite ways to take a hike. The unpredictable motions that your body must make in order to maintain balance is an exercise that, with practice, can improve certain areas of your trail-life – such as when boulder-hopping at creek crossings, walking across logs, when strip-lining (hiking along the narrow strip of dirt that’s commonly found along road walks), or for when crossing that shanty old bridge that awaits you on the Great Himalaya Trail.
*To make a slackline easier to use, make it shorter and tighter. To make it more difficult, make it longer and/or raise the height and loosen it. A single line can be set-up in a variety of ways and locations.
For me, half of the fun of slacklining is falling off it. What’s the other half? Feeling my balance improve every time I get on it!
Get more preseason hikes in and perform at a higher level during the season by:
Going Snow Hiking or Snow Adventuring
Playing Frisbee Golf
If nothing else, I hope these things have inspired you to get out and moving.
Have a great season and see you out there!