Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
How many people physically train before travelling to destinations like Machu Picchu, Mount Kilimanjaro, Kokoda Trail, and The Great wall of China?
I work out on a constant basis, but definitely kick it up a notch before a trip. My philosophy is that I want to be ready for anything and the last thing I want to do is be on a big adventure and regret not being in shape or getting sick right before I go. I think one of the key reasons people love to travel is the spontaneity of not knowing what to expect and being ready to try new things. Being out of shape limits your abilities and also increases your risk of becoming ill. For those reasons alone I always stay in shape and prepare extra for specific adventures before they start.
Even though I work out alot, I get more fit before every trip abroad. Better stamina for duomo and tower and hill climbing and more guys flirt with you when you look and feel good :). I know that wasn't the call of your question, but even less physical trips to places like Italy, Spain, and France benefit from better fitness levels. What is most interesting is that I always drop weight....even when stuffing my face with meat, bread, cheese and drinking like a fish.
I independently hiked to Machu Picchu with some friends a few years ago. We were all in okay shape, but nothing crazy. Some of the people in the tour groups were even wearing flip flops and handled it fine (then again, they had porters and guides taking care of everything else but walking). I think if you're in any sort of average shape you would be fine with most of the ones you listed. Maybe a tad slower, but not so much that you couldn't complete it!
I think a more important thing to think about with the ones you listed is altitude sickness. You could be in the best shape of your life and altitude sickness can make your trip miserable. Altitude sickness affects everyone differently... I didn't get it much at all, but my friend (and my brother on other trips), who were both in really good shape, got it badly on several occasions. The key is to definitely give yourself a few days at altitude before going up higher. It could make or break your journey!
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I've run a 10k in every international destination I've visited for the past several years. And I carry a backpack and put on a lot of miles ... so I need to be fit if I actually want to enjoy my travels. That's part of my lifestyle, anyway, rather than just travel-specific.
My usual routine has weightlifting, yoga, mountain biking and running on different days. This puts me in good enough shape to take on whatever I feel like doing.
It depends on where I'm going and what I'll be doing there. I'm pretty active at home, so I haven't done any extra training before going to any physically strenuous or high altitude locations unless I'm training for a specific hardcore sporting event/activity there.
Even before I became more active, I had walked up Great Wall Of China several times and was fine. Something like Mount Kilimanjaro, though, I would definitely try to extra ready my body for by taking up extra cardio to expand my lung capacity.
One thing that I do when traveling to places in high altitudes, especially if I plan on hiking or doing other physically straining activities there, is I'll spend a night or two there as high as possible to get a little more acclimated.
I work out regularly and I'm in a quite good shape for my age compared to other guys, but no trip is a reason for me to work harder. On the contrary, since I do a lot of hiking, diving, kayaking when I travel (backpacking style) I'm looking forward into it as an opportunity to get more physically fit. I usually shed 6-8lb when on a 3-4w journey and I'm only 160lb on average.
I agree with Justin - you definitely want to kick things up a notch before you go on a hike like Macchu Pichu or Kilimanjaro. If possible it would also help to do some elevation training, because you just don't know how your body is going to react in those situations, and even elite athletes can struggle under those circumstances. We recently published a few blog posts on our site that will give you some more information on training programs that you might find helpful - http://www.venturefar.com/search?q=train&f_collectionId=51a925efe4b070cc6c926263
I do start going to the gym a lot more before any holiday :)
I don't train, mainly cause I work 14 hours a day 7 days a week when I work.
Good thing is that I only work 5 months a year and travel around the world the rest of the time and I mostly travel by foot and bicycle so I manage to stay quite fit.