Planning on tackling the gruelling Kokoda Trail in 2016? Follow these 8 training tips to get fully prepared.
ANZAC Day is one of the most momentous dates on the Australian calendar and while there are many ways to honour the diggers who so bravely fought for us, doing so by journeying the Kokoda Trail is an experience that’s hard to beat.
With an average of 12 months training required to prepare for the 96 kilometre trek, that takes eight to 10 days to complete, it can all appear too daunting.
1. Train steep
The Kokoda Trail is full of ascents and descents and Bonington points out that it is crucial to include lots of hills in your training - and the steeper the better. “Training on a treadmill simply won’t cut the mustard,” he warns. “Instead, make sure you train on lots of steep bush tracks with broken and uneven surfaces and train with a loaded backpack so you’re fully prepared for the lay of the land when you start the trek,” he adds.
2. Embrace the heat
According to Bonington, the climate is hot and sticky throughout the journey so don’t avoid training during those painfully humid summer days here in Australia. “Embrace the heat, get used to pushing through in those conditions. Remember, the more you suffer in training, the less you’ll suffer on the track,” he advises.
3. Take the lunge
“The Kokoda terrain is exceptionally rugged so your training needs to really work the hips and everything that helps stabilise them,” Bonington says. “Make sure your training is packed full of lunges. Do lunges in different directions, lunges with your front foot raised, lunges with your back foot raised, walking lunges and even side lunges,” he adds. Lunges are everything insists Henry Talbot, who completed the Kokoda Trail in 2009. “The trail climbs and drops with foot placements at a million different heights and angles, so your legs and knees need to be strong enough to handle this. Joe made us practice our lunges with a weighted pack and I can’t say how much this helped us,” Talbot adds.
4. Load it up
Whether you decide to use a personal porter and just carry a day pack or you opt to carry a full load, according to Bonington you will be lugging around an average of seven to 15kg of extra weight respectively. “Use the overload principle during your training and always train with a backpack load that is 5kg heavier than your pack will weigh, this way your body will be well adjusted to carrying additional weight on the journey,” he says.
5. Know your history
Walking The Kokoda Trail will be an awe-inspiring experience no matter what, but to really appreciate the journey you should get to know the history, suggests Joe’s Basecamp client Matt Crehan, who completed the Kokoda Trail after training with Joe in 2014. “While the PNG guides will know the land, make sure you read as much as you can on the history before you leave. Kokoda by Paul Ham and Kokoda by Peter Fitzsimons are great books to learn more about the trail’s amazing history,” Crehan says.
6. Get to those hot spots
Chafing can ruin your trip…. you may be going as strong as an ox, but the wetness of your clothes from damp or sweat can cause excruciating chafing. Take with you a silicon based anti-chafing glide such as blister bomber or take Vaseline. Also for the same reason take a couple of rolls of strapping tape. Get to those hot spots before they become sore spots!
7. Stick with the tried and tested
Never, never, never try anything new on the track…whether it be socks, shoes, undies, a day pack, snacks or salt tablets; you must have trained in them first. You don’t want to get on the track and find your new kit doesn’t fit or gives you blisters or upsets your tummy.
8. Go for night hikes
Do a couple of night hikes in your training with a head torch, you may end up walking into the dark whilst on the track. Walking at night is very different. Set off at dusk and go for a good 3-5 hour bush walk on a Saturday night with a friend or two. If you are not an experienced bush walker, make it an urban bush route such as the Spit to Manly in Sydney. Always let someone know where you are going, who you are going with, the route and your ETA. Always take your phone and if you are out in the bush take an epurb.