3 Alternative Training Options for the Preseason

For optimal performance you need to stay on track. When it’s go time, you need to be prepared. Practice may make perfect but what you practice can either make or break it when it comes down to it. Use these 3 Performance Hacks for the Preseason and be ready to step with ease when the time comes.

3 Performance Hacks for the Preseason - by Aria Zoner

Below are 3 hiking-friendly movement practices that can help with your overall performance. Each one of these exercises forces you to use different parts of your body than you would otherwise if you were just walking. Not only are these 3 hacks fun and easy to share with friends and strangers, but they require minimal equipment in order to begin implementing them into your workout routine.

So, you ready to get your perform on? Ok then. Let’s start from the top, literally!

Performance Hacks #1: Snow Hiking

Backcountry Snow-hiking - with theedozer - by Aria Zoner@theedozer – Climbing to the top of southern Oregon’s Mt Ashland

Whether you choose to use snowshoes, skis, a split-board or gym shoes, hiking on the snow can be both an exercise and a sport. I appreciate the workout that can be had on the way up a climb but it’s the competitive drive to improve my downhill game that keeps me returning to climb higher. It never ceases to amaze me either how the weight of my gear – which can seem so heavy on the way up – practically disappears once I start moving down. This ebb and flow of push and play lulls me into a walking meditation – and puts me in a state where I’m simply stepping forward, adjusting to the snow, and zoning on the potential lines of the descent.

Before this long-trail hiking season hits, take advantage of the current conditions in the mountains and get well-versed on how to hike in all kinds of snow – from powder to ice. Also, practice persevering thru its subsequent melt-off streams and potential mud bogs which are only going to increase as peak melt-off sets in; likely just in time for your thru-hike!

Performance Hacks #2: Frisbee Golf

*For this hack all you need is a Frisbee and something far away to throw it at!

Zoner shows off his putting skills with a distant chain-ringer

Performance Hacks #3: Slacklining

Watch Zoner’s first time slacklining – Grand Canyon, N.P.

In 2011, I was thru-hiking the Arizona Trail when my teammate C4 and I stumbled over a rope that was tied across the trail. Upon closer inspection however we could see that this was no ordinary rope. Latched tight and locked into place with ratchet straps, this simple yet complex-looking contraption – known as a slackline – was only being used being by ghosts on this day. Located just outside of the Phantom Ranch Campground, it was irresistible. To this day, slacklining is one of my favorite ways to take a walk.

The unpredictable motions that your body has to make in order to maintain balance on a slackline is a type of exercise that with practice can improve certain areas of your trail-life – such as when boulder-hopping and log-walking at creek crossings, when strip-lining (hiking along the narrow strip of dirt that’s commonly found along road walks), or for when crossing that shanty old bridge that awaits you when you finally get enough vacation time to do the Great Himalayan Trail.

*To make the slackline easier, make it shorter and tighter. To make it more difficult, make it longer and/or raise the height and loosen it. A single line can be set-up in a variety of ways and locations.

For me, half of the fun of slacklining is just getting to the slack spot itself. What’s the other half? Feeling my balance improve every time I take another step on it!

In Summary:

Get more performance out your hikes by:

  • Going Snow Hiking
  • Playing Frisbee Golf
  • Slacklining

Leave it up to me to tie things together, but taking time out to do these 3 Performance Hacks for the Preseason will not only help you to improve your physical and mental balance – and thus your performance in general when it’s go time – but in the meantime they will also help you to improve your work/life balance; which is just as important.

In other words, if you’re trying to optimize your performance, it’s ok to be a slacker!

What? You didn’t see that coming? Sorry, I should’ve yelled fore!

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