Dog! Regular outdoor fitness tips from the

canine on creatine. Cold wet nose and glossy coat


Walk Up Hills More Easily!

Walking on the flat or downhill is basically easy - strap

on a heart rate monitor and you'll see that your pulse

doesn't even reach what runners would think of as a

'training zone'. Heading up hill's a different matter

altogether. On steepish climbs and, particularly, with a big

pack, you'll be working hard enough to push your heart rate

up through the roof, to running levels in fact.

Why? If you think about it, you're lifting your

bodyweight against gravity with every step so it's a bit

like resistance training. That's a big difference from flat

walking where loads are significantly less and a big problem

if you only get out on the hills occasionally. So, if you

find walking up hills hard, what can you do about it? Here's

a few tips that could help you motor up that hill next time


Pace Yourself

Don't be tempted to go screaming into things. You want to

choose a nice, steady pace that you can sustain over a

long-ish period. Whatever you do, don't push yourself until

you become breathless and your legs are burning as you'll be

asking for trouble later. What happens then is that you use

hard-to-replace glycogen reserves and build up lactate

chemicals in your muscles that will make you less efficient

for the rest of the walk. Better to stop and have a quick

breather than push yourself into the physiological death


Walking Technique

You'd be surprised how many people try to take huge steps

going uphill. It's actually more efficient to lean slightly

into the slope and shorten your stride a little. If you find

a spot with a really big step up, look for an intermediate

foot hold so you can do it in two paces instead of one and

ease the load. Think of stairs - it's easier to breeze up

closely-spaced steps than to go striding up huge, widely

spaced ones. Watch where you place your feet as well,

unsteady foot plants waste energy and make efficient walking

more difficult.

Trekking Poles

Poles can be a useful aid to an efficient walking

technique. They won't make you fitter, but they can help

stabilise your upper body, improve balance and give you

rythmn. I don't believe that your arms are actually helping

to pull you up - that's what legs are for - but they make it

easier to use your legs efficiently. On steep slopes you

need to adjust poles to a length where you can plant them

comfortably in front of you so you get maxiumum


Getting Fitter

The best way of getting good at walking up hills is,

surprisingly enough, to walk up lots of hills. Unfortunately

not all of us are lucky enough to have hills on tap, but

there are other ways of improving your hill climbing

prowess. Here are a few:


The best training for walking up hills is running up

them. You're using the same muscle groups in a very similar

way and the intensity of hill running will actually improve

your ability to operate at a lower level too. Don't fret if

you don't have many hills to run up, even running on the

flat will help improve your general hill fitness as you'll

be working significantly harder than you would be walking

over the same terrain. If you do take up running, buy proper

running shoes from a specialist running shop and don't

increase your mileage too quickly. A great source of basic

information is the Runners

World web site.

The Gym

You can train effectively for walking uphill without even

going outside. If you have access to a decently equipped

gym, several of the cardio-vascular machines can help build

climbing efficiency. Ideally you're looking for exercises

which simulate the action of lifting your bodyweight against

gravity using your legs.

Treadmills are great, but you want to adjust the gradient

so you're effectively walking or running up a steepish

slope. Also excellent are stair climbing machines like

Versaclimbers and Stairmasters as, again, you're lifting

your bodyweight against gravity. Steppers are okay too for

the same reason. Don't be tempted to cheat by abbreviating

the movement, you'll negate the point of being there in the

first place and it's hard to cheat on a real hill ;-)

Work at a pace where you're going relatively easily - if

you start panting and your legs are burning consistently,

you're going to hard so drop the speed a little. Start off

with 20 minute sessions and build up till you're doing

around an hour at a time. Ideally three sessions a week with

at least a day's rest between each one would be idea.

Remember the gym staff are there to help you, so tell them

what you're training for and ask them to draw up a specific

programme for you. It'll help you train more


Our hot tip for avoiding boredom is some sort of personal

stereo or MP3 player and your favourite tunes. Close your

eyes and dream of mountains...

Hit The Stairs

If you work somewhere with a good few flights of stairs, walk up

instead of taking the lift. If that seems a bit daunting - hey, maybe

you're on the 60th floor of Canary Wharf, build up gradually by

walking up a few floors then taking the lift and increasing the

number of flights you walk every day. Do the same if you're commuting by tube, evey little helps.

It'll Be Worth It

Put the effort in and hill climbing in the mountains will

be that much easier. It still won't be a breeze, but by

preparing, you'll suffer less and enjoy yourself more and

hey, isn't that why you got to the hills in the first


Happy hill climbing

Yours barkingly


The Butcher's Dog