Sweat Everyday: How to get a body like Thor (not really, but close)
We get asked on a regular basis…
“How do you train?”
Over the last two years, we have taken on a multitude of adventures, all of which have required us to train and learn different skills and practices. For our Atlantic row, we needed to be strong, fit and competent with oars in the water. For our ultra-triathlon in Patagonia, we needed to concentrate on running, tick off the miles, and be able to stand on a SUP without falling off! Our upcoming challenge, climbing El Capitan, has seen us train in a way we have never experienced. For the first time in our ‘adventuring careers’, grit and determination will not suffice to succeed. We will need to become expert climbers, in a year.
As well as the obvious work we are putting in to actually learn how to climb (we never climbed before January 2018), we have been advised that we need to lose as much weight as possible, to become the lightest, strongest, leanest version of ourselves as possible. Now, for two lads who demolish a caramel frappe and a muffin most days, this is bad news!
The idea behind this is simple, the heavier you are, the more bricks you are dragging up a wall. A huge part of climbing is endurance and grip strength, and we really suck at both, so to allow ourselves to progress as quickly as possible, we need to shed the pounds. So as well as the fierce routine of technical climbing and roping, our training regime needs to facilitate weight-loss.
So, the answer to the original question is a little complicated, but we also wanted to debunk a pre-conception that many people we meet, or those who follow our story, tend to believe of us. That we are conditioned athletes, the kind of people who are up at 5am putting in the miles before breakfast. We are not.
We struggle with training motivation as much as anyone, when it’s cold and wet in the winter months, we make excuses, we avoid the work, we find a way out. But over time, we have found a way to place training in a different light. To make it more accessible and, importantly, fun.
Like the vast majority of people who are training for a specific goal, a marathon, expedition or to lose weight, we were obsessed by numbers. How quick was that 5k? How much am I lifting? How many reps, how many minutes? This approach works for some, but also is a barrier for others. If you train to achieve numbers, those numbers define you. As Phil Knight (Founder of Nike) said in his book ‘Shoe Dog’;
‘Running track gives you a fierce respect for numbers, because you are what your numbers say you are, nothing more, nothing less’
For those trying to achieve a time in a race, numbers are vital during training, that is a fact. But for those wanting to simply be fit, healthy and happy, they are not necessary. There is nothing more demoralising than staring at your average speed on your wearable, seeing the seconds drop off as your limbs begin to fill with concrete. It breaks you.
So in order to keep our bodies in top-condition, to drop our body fat, and allow ourselves to perform 100% on the climbing walls, we have ditched numbers and times, and used a simple rule to live by:
To help fit around a schedule that changes on a daily basis, we aim to exercise every single day in some capacity. This could manifest itself in a 10 minute HIIT, a full-gym workout, a swim, a climbing session…anything that gets the heart rate up. By doing so, we remove the “I don’t have time to head to the gym” thought-process. The goal is filtered down to its simplest, most basic form, and it works. Long runs, sprints, push-ups or yoga, anything is better than nothing, and those small marginal gains add up to big differences.
It was recently documented that Chris Hemsworth (actor, hunk, Thor) trains for 20 minutes everyday to allow for his busy schedule, and his role as a father of three. The bloke is an absolute rig, so if you don’t believe in us, then believe in him. (Disclaimer: There is definitely some genetic miracles at work here, so don’t be too upset if you don’t resemble the god of thunder in a couple of months)
We have also built an understanding of the importance of habits, and how they can act as triggers for training. An example of this, if you are looking to head out for a run before work, is to lay your entire running kit out on the floor next to your bed. It’s one less job to do when you are still half-asleep, and acts as a prompt to get out the door. There is real value in looking at your daily routine, and building in habits to help guide your training. It could be booking classes for the week every Sunday evening, or simply setting reminders on your phone. The simpler the better.
There are also a multitude of apps and YouTube tutorials which can act as an aid, a digital PT if you will. The Nike Training app is a good start, and using Headspace whilst running has become a game-changer for us. Play around with the options, and you will find something that works for you.
To conclude, if you are struggling to keep momentum and consistency up with your training, can never find the time, or simply lack the motivation. Do what we do, and strip it back. Sweat everyday and lose the numbers, and you will begin to love it!