Scaling mountains or slaloming down them, climbing vertical rock so sharp one fall could result in your skin being sliced and diced, or blazing down trails on bikes at breakneck speeds. Playing in and enjoying the outdoors is emotionally and physically trying to say the least and, if you don’t prepare yourself adequately, you may just end up having to turn back cause you can’t take the heat, wind up in the hospital, or worse. To prevent this from happening, read on as we breakdown some necessities for effective and safe outdoor preparation for your body, mind, and spirit.
Nature is not “The Gym”
While performing an outdoor sport or activity the number of pull-ups you can do, how much you can bench, or how far you run hamster style on the treadmill can quickly become irrelevant if you haven’t done any outdoor training. Ask anyone who’s spent months training for rock-climbing in an indoor facility. They’ll tell you that, once you get outside, it’s a whole other ballgame.
Weather, the elements, altitude, or the fact that you’re no longer in a controlled environment can all quickly dictate your performance and can, all too often, get you injured if you’re inexperienced.
That being said, train outside, as well as inside. If you’re a newbie or just returning to the outdoors, take it slow at first. Notice the difference between your simulated training vs. the real deal.
It’s All in Your Head
You’ve heard the saying “it’s all in your head.” Sometimes people use this when referring to pain, other times they’re talking about your perceived ability level. Regardless, your mind is an extremely powerful tool. It can be used to control fear and, conversely, can cause you to ahhhhhhh…FREAK OUT (cue music). The ability to control your own thoughts, emotions, and impulses is something that is not only beneficial but is also a necessity when adventuring and sporting outdoors.
The more acquainted you are with your emotions and responses, the better able you’ll be to identify when fear, frustration, or panic may take you over while enjoying your sport or exploring the wilderness.
To prepare your mind, run through worst-case scenarios in a calmly in your mind or even hash them out with friend. For example, think to yourself: What will I do if there’s an avalanche on this ski run? What sort of survival gear can I utilize if I get blown off trail on this mountain? What happens if my tire blows while I’m cycling and I injure myself so badly I can’t ride home?
In the outdoors, hoping for the best is vital for staying positive and doing what we love. But preparing for the worst will help us to keep composure, think quickly, and not let panic overtake us if a serious situation arises.
If you believe in the notion of a spirit, then getting in touch with this part of yourself, however you see fit, is one sure-fire way to draw your body and mind into alignment. When asked how they prepare for the great physical feats that they must accomplish, many outdoor enthusiasts and athletes have cited meditation, yoga, and even prayer. That being said, if you so desire, take time to cultivate a spiritual connection with your sport and, more importantly, with Mother Nature herself. You might just find that it helps you to climb higher, ride farther, and it may even give you someone or something to pray to when the shit hits the fan.