Physical Preparations

Cross-country skiing in Minnesota.
Cross-country skiing in Minnesota.

Going on an expedition to Heard Island will require me to be in good physical condition. There are tents, generators, and other gear to haul. Hiking around on the island may be a bit treacherous, with burrows for nesting seabirds scattered across the already uneven terrain.

In preparation, I’m adding activity to my usual routine: more running, biking, backpacking, and, come winter, cross-country skiing. Some of my college friends (and cousins) convinced me to sign up for a hilly 51 km ski race next February, and others have been trying to get me to register for a 24-hour run/walk (for which I was a support crew member this year).

Fortunately, most of this preparation falls in with what I was already hoping to do. Riding my bike around town more is good for my health and reduces fossil fuel usage. Running, biking, and backpacking will keep me in shape for skiing once the snow starts to fall (despite Minnesota’s reputation, it will probably be at least October before there’s enough snow to ski on). And, of course, backpacking tends to lead to adventures of its own. Perhaps I’ll hike part of the Superior Trail (along the north shore of Lake Superior), or some of the trails in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area.

Getting myself into shape for this expedition probably won’t be a huge deal (I’m not trying to lose weight for it), but if I want to be competitive with the ol’ ski team friends (and cousins), I need to step it up a notch or two. Were I to do the 24-hour run/walk, the goal would be to complete a marathon—I don’t think I’ve ever pushed past 10 miles in one run.