December north of the 45th parallel wants to be a quiet time, and in the last six years I’ve learned to let it be just that. So in the three weeks after hunting season I did only as much of anything as I wanted to, which added up to a few hikes and snowbike rides and ski trips, a fair amount of sewing, a lot of sitting around, and quite a bit of going to bed well before 9pm. Rest and recharge is a good use for 15 hour nights.
But the foundation for next year is built right now, so last week I used the inevitable less-busy time at work to start regular training. As of ten days ago I was not un-fit, but I wasn’t anywhere close to fit either, and a bit on the heavy side as well. Both things that are easily fixed, and the best cure to be found around here is laps up and down the local ski hill. 2000′ of vertical in a short stretch with weights on each foot (4+ pounds a foot all in, even with my fairly light gear) will sort your hiking fitness out fast if you do it regularly for a few months. It is not a coincidence that the best hiking shape of my life, for the Classic in 2011, came after the biggest and best winter in over a decade.
The key at this stage of the game is consistency. If a training outing needs to be cut short (windchill yesterday morning) or moved (windchill today, went out in the afternoon) that is not a problem, so long as you’re getting out and putting lots of vertical into the legs regularly.
With goals and priorities months down the road, fine tuning and rigor will come along in due time. But even with a base of fitness both deep and wide, you’ll get burned if you try to shortcut the foundation.
The above were on the first outing of my new camera, a Ricoh GR, which will I think work out nicely. All functions can be easily manipulated with gloves on, a unprecedented thing for a digital, and quite welcome when it’s -5F.