By Russ Van Orman
Athletic Hunter Cardio
Please check with your doctor to ensure your well-being before starting any type of physical exercise program.
Over the last couple of months you have been building a baseline. You have increased your time on the treadmill and stationary bike. You have consistently been going to the gym and eating a low fat, low carb, high protein diet. Your body has, by now, probably reached a plateau where you are not noticing the gains you initially were when you first started out. Okay, let’s get your body going again.
When most people think of cardio exercise they think of running. I love to run; however, many people can’t because of a variety of reasons. Let’s discuss some cardiovascular options:
Walking – Since you have been walking on the treadmill this should be easy…. One difference we have while hunting is a variety of terrain such as up and down hills and steps, on grass, sand and pavement. This will make your walking (running, too) fun.
When walking outside, first choose the same distance that you have walked on the treadmill. You can measure the distance with your car or purchase a pedometer. When you are walking, keep your head up and back straight. Walk by putting your heel on the ground first, then roll up onto your toes (the same should be done when running). This will help prevent shin splints.
After walking this route four or five times a week over a two week period, it is time to increase your distance and the difficulty of your walk. Increase your distance and find some gentle hills you can include in your walk. If you can find a park with trails and hills, this would be perfect.
Walk this route for three weeks and when it feels right increase the speed that you are walking.
Let’s take it to the next level. You will need to purchase a day pack if you don’t have one. I recommend not using the one you take hunting basically because of scent control. Your day pack should have strum strap to prevent the shoulder straps from slipping off when you are walking. A good day pack with a water reservoir can be purchased for around fifty dollars.
To start with, put five to ten pounds of weight in your day pack. You can use anything from coins, books, gravel, hand weights, etc… that will total your desired weight. The route you have been walking for the last three weeks; walk it this time with your pack on. As this becomes easier increase the weight, intensity and distance for approximately two weeks until it becomes easy. Then try to jog with your pack on. If you become tired after jogging and haven’t completed the circuit start walking again with out stopping until you are finished.
To prevent boredom, it is a good idea to vary your hikes to include walking up steps, taking a hike with the family at a park, and hiking on the beach.
Running – Start out with the same distance that you have been running on the treadmill.
The major difference in running outside compared to running on a treadmill is that ground isn’t going to move. It is important at this level to include some gentle hills in your run. Start out slow. Your goal here is not see how fast you can run, but to finish your entire circuit running the whole way without stopping. Depending on your age and health, you should be able to complete one to three miles without stopping. Run the same route for 3 weeks, 4 to 5 times a week or until it becomes easy.
The next phase of your running program will include steeper hills. Running on hills not only increases your cardiovascular level, but your strength and endurance. My training usually includes 40 to 50 percent hills when training for races. I look for the steepest hills I can successfully run up.
Increase your distance by at least a mile at this phase (or if you can’t complete an additional mile, then a ½ mile). This is your base run which you should run at least 4 times a week, increasing your speed as it feels comfortable. I usually run from my house because of convenience; however, trail running is a great way to get away from the cars and pavement. If you have the opportunity, trail running is the way to go. It will provide you with a sense of adventure, plus you may have the opportunity to see some wildlife.
If you have limited hills and steps are available, run the steps. Most high schools and colleges have stadiums which have steps that you can run.
Biking – Many of the same training techniques that applied to running will apply here. Biking outside is very different than riding the stationary bike at the gym. You will need to pay attention to your surroundings. Riding on the road can be dangerous if you don’t pay attention. I suggest taking a biking safety class. Most bike shops offer them.
Whatever bike you ride; a cross trainer, mountain bike or road bike, this is a great way to build your strength, balance, cardio, and endurance with less stress on your joints.
In planning your ride, a good distance to begin with is eight to ten miles over fairly flat terrain. You should ride this route 4 times a week for the next two weeks.
Many cities and counties have bicycle routes and trails which are mapped. Your local bike shop would be a good source for these maps. Secondary roads in your neighborhood can make a great riding area, too.
Over the next three weeks, you should increase your speed and distance and include some hills on your ride. Increase your distance to 12 to 15 miles. Once this feels comfortable, increase your distance to twenty miles and add some more hills to your route. This will be your basic ride.
Once a month, you should try and ride further (30 miles) or ride on steeper terrain as you feel stronger.
For many people, a road bike is more convenient because you can ride from your house. However, a good mountain bike ride is a great way to spend time outdoors and build your strength.
I have good friends who, in August and early September, ride the logging roads on their mountain bikes while scouting for elk. One of my friends hunts from his mountain bike once the logging roads close down for hunting season.
Combination – Once your baselines have been established. You can combine a walk and bike ride or run and bike ride. I love to get up early in the morning and run on the weekends before there are many cars on the road. Everything is peaceful. After my run, I stretch then eat a light breakfast. I then ride my bike for about twenty miles. I am usually done by 10:00 a.m.
Weather plays a factor in all outdoor sports. Rain or shine (unless it is a lighting storm) you should perform your workout. A road bike ride in the rain can be dangerous due to limited visibility; a mountain bike less so. If you can’t ride due to rain, go to the gym, walk or run. We hunt in a variety of weather conditions so train in these same conditions. Just remember when you get back, a warm shower awaits you.
Stretching – Before and after your exercise program, you should stretch to prevent muscle tightness and/or tears. There are several excellent books on stretching that you can buy or check out of the library.
In the next issue we will look at our core and strength training. Don’t forget to eat right and be consistent in your workout.
Be Fit and Enjoy the Deep Countree!!