Keeping hill fit close to home

Although things have changed slightly in Scotland, with unlimited outdoor exercise, I’ve still been relying on a lot of home-based exercise to try to keep myself fit for getting back into the hills.

I am lucky that there are small hills and trails near Hills of Hame base and I have managed some running, a small amount of cycling and a lot of dog-walking. One of the best pieces of luck is that there is a MTB skills

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View towards Arthur’s Seat from Craigmillar Castle Park

course nearby in the grounds of a local high school.

Hill fitness is a bit different though, partly due to load carrying and partly due to the balance needs. Balance, grip and strength are also all considerations for my modest scrambling and rock climbing activities.

Nearby are a number of good trail and hill-running sites well within easy walking distance. Blackford Hill, Braids Hills, Craigmillar Castle Park and Ellen’s Glen. The most significant change I’ve made to my training is to nearly always put on my day pack with standard hill leader kit. Not a huge amount of extra weight but adds to the training effect. 

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Out at Agassiz Rock in Blackford Glen in 2019. A popular bouldering spot pre-lockdown.

The other aspect of rucksack carrying is doing some of the ‘big shops’ by taking a 60 litre pack and a couple of bags to carry the shopping home. Some people take this a lot further a go in for ‘rucking‘, different from what I used to do as a rugby forward.

In the house, I’ve found myself doing some taekwando classes over Zoom with my son. As there is a lot of stretching and balance on one leg to deliver the kicks this is helping maintain some of the climbing fitness. And some of the cardio work is really hard going.I also use various resistance bands and work against my own considerable body weight.

I’m also still using my Hill Fit ebooks. Sadly, I don’t think they are still available. Chris Highcock, who also wrote for TGO magazine, wrote these books. The central argument of the books is that walkers need to improve strength and Chris’s blog is still live. If you look at the tab ‘A Hillfit Philosophy’, you’ll get an idea of what the books were about. I also valued these books as they were evidence-based and Chris consulted widely and put a lot of annotated references ‘in the back’. Hillfit was one of the first books I read as an aspiring ML about the benefits of ‘green exercise. 

 

 

 

 

I am a palaeobiologist in my early 40's carrying out research work. I am based in Scotland.

Posted in Edinburgh, Hill Running, Mountain Training, Orienteering, Scotland, Woodlands

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Al is a Hill and Moorland Leader and has also completed the Expedition Skills module
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