Well, we weren’t particularly fit when we started, and certainly hadn’t been serious about training beforehand. I walked the three or four miles back from my office carrying a backpack with laptop and files once or twice a week for nearly two years. But the winter of 2014 was exceptionally grey, wet and miserable, and I found it hard to keep up the enthusiasm. I’ve done a lot of long distance walking in the past, though, as well as yoga, so I didn’t feel stiff at all even at the start. My problem was that I had never done much aerobic exercise. I puffed my way slowly up the hills.
Alan goes running and plays hockey once a week in winter, so he was much better than me uphill. Veryan had done lots of aerobic exercise, including some arcane form of fitness torture called spinning. She powerhoused up the mountains, and could even talk while she did so – a feat beyond the two of us. But both of them felt the strain of carrying a pack in their backs and shoulders, and worried about twinging knees as they came downhill.
Strangely enough, I pulled a muscle in my knee well into the walk, sometime in late October. I thought my body would have adjusted by then, and never identified what caused it. After a couple of days walking with a knee support, I was fine again. However, by the end of the walk, my ankles were starting to feel painful. I’ve taken a few months rest to allow them to recover fully.
It made a big difference that we weren’t in a hurry, and could take a rest day or side-trip without packs, so our bodies had time to recover.
I still puff my way up hills, but perhaps not quite so much.