Getting fit for hill walking in Wales

Tangled Metal
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Re: Getting fit for hill walking

Postby Tangled Metal » 30 Aug 2017, 12:46pm

I once read there's two theories regarding blister prevention. One is rubbing alcohol type of chemical to toughen the skin on your feet. The second is to keep the skin soft so it won't cause hotspots and blisters.

Personally I just make sure I have good, well fitting boots with good hiking socks. Used to use thin liner socks but now my boots are better fitting so liners not needed. The theory with liners is that the liner and the outer socks rub against each other not the sock against your foot.

My worry about work shoes for walking in the hills is fit. Rotation of foot in boot on rough terrain is something I try to avoid. Similarly they might not have as good shock absorbing foot bed, which with dedicated hiking boots also help to fix your heel into the heel cup. This stops heel lift which is a major cause of blisters. That's my concern since I've never had good fitting work shoes. Unless you pay good money that is. If you're paying out for good work boots then hiking boots can often be bought at similar prices as good work boots.

Just my opinion, if they work for you that is all that matters. Try to thoroughly break them in before your trip to check that out.

ChrisButch
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Re: Getting fit for hill walking

Postby ChrisButch » 30 Aug 2017, 3:58pm

Over many decades of hillwalking, climbing, peak-bagging of various kinds and cycle touring, I've noticed a curious lack of reciprocity between training for climbing on two wheels and on two feet. If I'm cycling fit, with a lot of commuting/training miles, a few audaxes etc I'm pretty confident that I can switch to some hard Munro or alpine ascents on foot and immediately feel fit and well-prepared. But it never works the other way round - coming back home and getting on my bike for the first time after a couple of weeks in the Alps etc it always feels a real struggle, and it takes a week or more before I feel back to normal again on the bike. I've never found a convincing answer to why this should be so - presumably something to do with the different muscle groups etc, but I'd be interested to know whether others who've been similarly active in the two different disciplines have similar experience.

mnichols
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Re: Getting fit for hill walking

Postby mnichols » 30 Aug 2017, 10:34pm

I'm doing a week cycling in the Hebrides in a couple of weeks with two friends who have asked if we can walk up Ben Nevis on the last day. I have (naively) agreed having no previous walking experience other than walking the dog every day and accompanying the wife occasionally. She is a keen walker so I sometimes do 2, 3 or 4 hours with her at a weekend usually involving a coffee stop - I use it as a wind down from a ride

I've done a couple of thousand mile cycle tours this year of between 100 and 200 miles per day and generally train 5 or 6 times per week a mixture of cycling and gym

Will this be enough to get me up and down Ben Nevis? Not having anything like this before I've nothing to gauge it by

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Re: Getting fit for hill walking

Postby Vorpal » 31 Aug 2017, 8:35am

mnichols wrote:I'm doing a week cycling in the Hebrides in a couple of weeks with two friends who have asked if we can walk up Ben Nevis on the last day. I have (naively) agreed having no previous walking experience other than walking the dog every day and accompanying the wife occasionally. She is a keen walker so I sometimes do 2, 3 or 4 hours with her at a weekend usually involving a coffee stop - I use it as a wind down from a ride

I've done a couple of thousand mile cycle tours this year of between 100 and 200 miles per day and generally train 5 or 6 times per week a mixture of cycling and gym

Will this be enough to get me up and down Ben Nevis? Not having anything like this before I've nothing to gauge it by

I would think so. I guess it takes a fit person 5 hours without a lot of stops to enjoy the scenery.

Wear sturdy shoes, take a compass, a packed lunch and a water bottle or two, warm clothes, and don't go if the weather is bad becuase it's likely to be 10 X worse at the top. Ben Nevis's reputation is due to people going up it (thousands of tourists every year) completely unprepared and not being able to find their way down again.
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munroad
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Re: Getting fit for hill walking

Postby munroad » 31 Aug 2017, 8:49am

I agree. I've started in shorts and tee shirt at the bottom and had full winter gear on at the top. Have a clear idea of how to navigate off the summit if bad weather comes in.Harveys do a useful map.

Tangled Metal
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Re: Getting fit for hill walking

Postby Tangled Metal » 31 Aug 2017, 8:52am

A good enough hill if you like crowds. Done it just the once and avoided the crowds by doing CMD arete. Cracking way up the Ben. Took us 12 hours IIRC but I was more of a climber/kayaker back then so totally unfit for hill walking.

Take the tourist route up and follow the herd you'll be OK. Be aware of the dangerous nature of the summit in cloud. You will need to know the bearings to take if visibility is poor. Plus know how to walk to a bearing. There's gullies to catch those unaware and unable to be safe in a hill environment like the Ben. Safe as in good weather.

PS I've camped at the campsite in the Glen and you can sit and watch the lines of walkers going up the path on the other side of the Glen. It's kind of fun watching them. The differences in travel speed too.

I hope you have a good trip. Keep safe and go prepared (full waterproofs, warm layers, map, compass, whistle, etc.).

There's a small map of Ben Nevis you can buy. I think it's a small Harvey's map in plastic (waterproof and tough). It'll show the summit and the routes up it plus angles off the summit. It's in the 40k scale with a larger scale detail map of the summit. That last could be useful in the clag.

mnichols
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Re: Getting fit for hill walking

Postby mnichols » 31 Aug 2017, 8:16pm

Thanks. I'm going with someone who has done it a couple of times and is a very experienced walker so I'm trusting him to know the route. He walked up it last year with my wife whilst I pottered around Glen Nevis with the kids. I know I'll be absolutely fine if the weather is bad....because I'll be in the café with a good book waiting for the other two. I've got plenty of good clothes, as my wife keeps buying them for me in the hope of me doing more walking. As for food, I'm planning on filling my rucksack with far too many tasty treats. My wife also bought me some walking poles which should help.

I'm looking forward to it, but not set on doing it. I'm up there for a week of cycling in the Hebrides and I'll do that come hell or high water. But if the weather is bad on Nevis day I'll relax in the café. If it's good then should be an enjoyable new experience

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Re: Getting fit for hill walking

Postby pjclinch » 31 Aug 2017, 9:29pm

brynpoeth wrote:I used to have some walking boots from the YHA shop but now I use work shoes that I got from the DIY store, they are robust with non-slip soles, seems to me they are quite suitable


Non-slip on what, though? shoe soles are a bit like bike tyres, different horses for different courses. The grippiest soles going are sticky rubber on rock climbing shoes... but being smooth (maximum friction against rock) they're completely lethal on grass, particularly if it's wet. Aggressive studs and/or cleats are typically best for hillwalking as they'll give a bit of bite on soft stuff. These are standard on walking boots, but certainly not limited to them.

Robust isn't actually much of an issue, unless you're doing scrambles with foot jams. And indeed the more robust they are the more likely they are to rub. A pair of trainers with a good off-road outsole is often fine, and being so much lighter than boots are less tiring for your feet. Check out gear guru Chris Townsend's thoughts on lightweight footwear. Main problem is getting cold feet after they get wet, but if you keep going they'll usually stay warm enough. Wet feet in boots can be a problem softening skin leading to blisters, but that's mainly because being stiff and heavy they rub more.
This time of year my main Weapons of Choice are sandals with an aggressive outsole or fairly light shoes. I only go for boots if it's looking like crampons will be needed. Unless you're in sandals too, a pair of good quality walking or running socks usually pay off. No need for two pairs, and I find that going for a pair close to maxxed-out size gives the best fit (so Brand X Medium are sizes 7-9 while Brand Y Large are 9-11, the Brand X ones will probably work better IME).

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Tangled Metal
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Re: Getting fit for hill walking

Postby Tangled Metal » 31 Aug 2017, 9:48pm

Two socks (thick and thin liner) is one good option but good fitting footwear is better and usually only needs one sock layer. However the op has mentioned diy shoes IIRC. I doubt they'll be in half sizes or fit as well as outdoor footwear bought at a good retailer and properly sized. So 2 layers is possibly a good option. I would certainly use socks to fine tune fit. Good outdoor socks can be used to take up part of the space a half size would do.

It's just an idea. It worked well for me in my heavy Scarpa boot days. Now I wear one sock because I select my boots and shoes more carefully with better knowledge and experience of what I need.

I would not recommend trainers for the op though. The reason being that on rough terrain being new to hill walking it's likely the op hasn't got the strength in the foot to be comfortable for a while. IME from switching from heavy, stout hiking boots to lightweight fell shoes I would finish walks with tired and aching feet. I also didn't have the stability in the ankle and foot in rough terrain. After a short period of regular walking in fell shoes my feet and ankle strengthened.

This was my experience and something I read about at the time that others experienced too.

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Re: Getting fit for hill walking

Postby Vorpal » 31 Aug 2017, 10:14pm

pjclinch wrote:
brynpoeth wrote:I used to have some walking boots from the YHA shop but now I use work shoes that I got from the DIY store, they are robust with non-slip soles, seems to me they are quite suitable


Non-slip on what, though? shoe soles are a bit like bike tyres, different horses for different courses. The grippiest soles going are sticky rubber on rock climbing shoes... but being smooth (maximum friction against rock) they're completely lethal on grass, particularly if it's wet. Aggressive studs and/or cleats are typically best for hillwalking as they'll give a bit of bite on soft stuff. These are standard on walking boots, but certainly not limited to them.

Robust isn't actually much of an issue, unless you're doing scrambles with foot jams. And indeed the more robust they are the more likely they are to rub. A pair of trainers with a good off-road outsole is often fine, and being so much lighter than boots are less tiring for your feet. Check out gear guru Chris Townsend's thoughts on lightweight footwear. Main problem is getting cold feet after they get wet, but if you keep going they'll usually stay warm enough. Wet feet in boots can be a problem softening skin leading to blisters, but that's mainly because being stiff and heavy they rub more.
This time of year my main Weapons of Choice are sandals with an aggressive outsole or fairly light shoes. I only go for boots if it's looking like crampons will be needed. Unless you're in sandals too, a pair of good quality walking or running socks usually pay off. No need for two pairs, and I find that going for a pair close to maxxed-out size gives the best fit (so Brand X Medium are sizes 7-9 while Brand Y Large are 9-11, the Brand X ones will probably work better IME).

Pete.

A fair number of walking boots and work boots are made in the same factories, using the same materials. I've worn walking boots for work, and work boots for walking without any noticeable difference in performance. Rock climbing boots are different, of course, and so are some others. Unless, however, one needs rock climbing boots, work boots should be fine. The main things are that they need to be waterproof (you can waterproof them) and comfortable. If you are doing your training walks in them and are comfortable, they are likely to be fine for the long distance walking, too.

That said, I don't recommend wearing ones with protective toe caps of any sort. Steel toed boots transfer cold, and the morning dew on the grass can make one's toes cold, even if the boots are waterproof. Also, the design modifications made to get the protective caps in, make them likely to rub where it ends if you walk long distances in them. They're designed for being on your feet all day, but not necessarily for walking all day.

I prefer walking boots for long distance walking because if I have soft soles, like trainers or other light shoes, my feet feel bruised at the end of the day, and this will get progressively worse, if I am doing several days of walking.
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pjclinch
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Re: Getting fit for hill walking

Postby pjclinch » 1 Sep 2017, 8:54am

Tangled Metal wrote:I would not recommend trainers for the op though. The reason being that on rough terrain being new to hill walking it's likely the op hasn't got the strength in the foot to be comfortable for a while. IME from switching from heavy, stout hiking boots to lightweight fell shoes I would finish walks with tired and aching feet. I also didn't have the stability in the ankle and foot in rough terrain. After a short period of regular walking in fell shoes my feet and ankle strengthened.


Possibly the case that it's a switch from stouter stuff. My daughter did her first Munro at 9 (Ben Vorlich on Loch Earn, not too technical by any means but plenty of rocks) in a pair of Saucony trail runners with no ill effects.

I moved over quite rapidly from proper big boots (crampon compatible winter boots) to trainers. First time I did a big trip in my running shoes they were a bit sore at the end, but that was the Aonach Eagach.

Stability in rough terrain is a tricky one. Walkers will often say you need stiff soles and ankle support, but orienteers tackle rougher stuff routinely (and often quicker too) in what amounts to trainers with very gnarly soles, and that goes for beginners too. Until you get in to pretty serious boots the ankle cuff gives protection from bashes and stone ingress but not much in the way of actual support, and what support they give is a two-edges sword because they tend to lever you over with an angled foot placement such as when contouring.

Vorpal wrote:The main things are that they need to be waterproof (you can waterproof them) and comfortable.


Comfortable, absolutely, and that comes down mainly to fit. That workwear isn't available in half sizes and only one width fitting is a bit of a moot point if the fit is right for you, and it may be. Waterproof isn't actually that much of an issue as long as nothing's rubbing and your feet are warm enough. Warmth comes from activity, not rubbing comes from fit but also softer materials with more give are less likely to rub if all else is equal. Again, orienteering is a good case in point here, where wet feet is a matter of when rather than if. And people don't abandon marathons and 10k runs just because it's raining and their shoes aren't waterproof. Dry is helpful towards comfort, but damp feet in good socks and well fitting shoes aren't actually too bad, especially light shoes that drain and dry quickly.

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Re: Getting fit for hill walking

Postby Vorpal » 1 Sep 2017, 11:47am

pjclinch wrote:Comfortable, absolutely, and that comes down mainly to fit. That workwear isn't available in half sizes and only one width fitting is a bit of a moot point if the fit is right for you, and it may be. Waterproof isn't actually that much of an issue as long as nothing's rubbing and your feet are warm enough. Warmth comes from activity, not rubbing comes from fit but also softer materials with more give are less likely to rub if all else is equal. Again, orienteering is a good case in point here, where wet feet is a matter of when rather than if. And people don't abandon marathons and 10k runs just because it's raining and their shoes aren't waterproof. Dry is helpful towards comfort, but damp feet in good socks and well fitting shoes aren't actually too bad, especially light shoes that drain and dry quickly.

Pete.

That's fair, though I would rather put off 'wet' as long as I can, and I have managed to keep my feet dry in consistently wet conditions and several days walking with newly waterproofed boots and good trousers over them.

Wool walking socks will continue to keep feet comfortable (or help!)even when wet or sweaty, and I prefer them over anything else, even on warm summer days.

I will say, however, that shoes that are good for oritenteering aren't necessarily the best for walking and vice versa. Orienteering is typically as fast possible, but the time spent one one's feet is typically lower. I have to admit that I am not an experienced orienteer, but I have done it a few times, and if I did do it with a club or something, I expect I would have at least couple of different shoes for different conditions (muddy or soft surfaces, versus hard ones, for example), and that neither would look like my walking boots.

Lastly, the OP hasn't said, but if he is carrying a rucksack, firmer sole may be needed to support the extra weight.
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Re: Getting fit for hill walking

Postby pjclinch » 1 Sep 2017, 12:33pm

You can get quite a bit more support from an "approach shoe" (current marketing speak for walking shoes, it was originally for the approach to a rock-climb) than from running shoes if you want something a bit more towards battleship, and they're still lighter and easier to move in than boots. My current Weapons of Choice for that sort of day are these...

Image

Grippy soles (both from the rubber and the cleat/stud sole), water-resistant enough that the likes of wet grass won't get your feet soaked and tough enough to survive foot-jams on scrambles.

Did a two week walk doing DNT hut-to-hut in a previous model with a ~ 10 Kg pack in fairly typical Norwegian conditions (some rain, some clag, some sun, mix of grass, rock and old snow underfoot), my wife had similar, neither of us regretted our footwear choice.

The main problem with dedicated O-shoes for walking is the outsoles tend to be a bit OTT for paths. With deep studs for grip on mud, sometimes steel tipped for grip on stuff like wet wood, they're not that great on hard paths, especially as there's often minimal cushioning on the assumption that soft ground will do that for you. "Trail runners", available from the Usual Suspects in trainers, have a less radical sole and some midsole cushioning and are better than purist O-shoes on a walk, and are also better for an O if the going won't be soft.

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Re: Getting fit for hill walking

Postby Vorpal » 1 Sep 2017, 5:18pm

pjclinch wrote:You can get quite a bit more support from an "approach shoe" (current marketing speak for walking shoes, it was originally for the approach to a rock-climb) than from running shoes if you want something a bit more towards battleship, and they're still lighter and easier to move in than boots. My current Weapons of Choice for that sort of day are these...

Image



I think I would call those walking boots, even they aren't properly boots (neither are football boots :lol: ) but at least they're made for walking...
“In some ways, it is easier to be a dissident, for then one is without responsibility.”
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Re: Getting fit for hill walking

Postby John1054 » 2 Sep 2017, 7:48am

Make sure that your boots have some space at the front of your toes, otherwise when descending you might get toe hammer - not nice! Usual fitting advice is to put boot on without being laced up, push foot forward and you should be able to insert two fingers behind your heel. When you put your foot in and lace boot up reasonably tight, there will then be toe space at the front - good luck.