By Jonathan Doyle
It’s a strange time we are living in right now, it can feel a bit overwhelming being stuck at home not knowing when we will next be allowed to play out. While it is easy to feel downhearted and a little blue about the current state of affairs, it is also perhaps a time for productivity and a time to get around to those long-forgotten jobs such as clearing out the haunted attic. However, we are over four weeks onto the lockdown, and I can only assume like me, you have either completed many of the more interesting items on the to-do list, or you are in fact just bored of them. Either way, here are a few fun ways to keep your fitness up and your mind active.
Stair SummitsFor those of us not lucky enough to live with a hill literally on our doorstep, a set of stairs does make a pretty good alternative. While on full quarantine, I found myself racing up and down the stairs at some ungodly hour along with Rory Southwood and 24 other similarly keen (or foolish) people. Rory had set the challenge of running the height of a Wainwright mountain each day for five days, and much to my surprise, I did it! Setting a goal such as the height of your favourite mountain is a really good target to aim for, add taking some silly photos and video clips into the mix and the time will fly by.
It turns out you can have a lot of fun in your garden or indeed in socially distanced neighbourhood too. Pack your bag for an overnight expedition, grab your favourite snack and put on your imagination hat, just as Rock + Run reviewer Victoria Hatch recently did: See header image above © Victoria Hatch
She tackled a difficult winter ascent, explored the wild jungle and even escaped a crocodile infested swamp all in one day! Try and stay out of your house for a whole 24 hours, the water in there is poisoned and the floor is lava, your only chance of survival is camping out in the garden!
Label Your Gear
This sounds pretty obvious, but how many times have you get to the end of the day and sat there with your mate trying to figure out which sling belongs to who and how many screwgates you took up with you… insulation tape is good, nail varnish is better, just make sure you only put the varnish on metalwork or labels, as it can be damaging to the material of slings and cams etc.
Brush up on your Skills
There's nothing worse than being one pitch into a multipitch route and trying to remember how to do a clove hitch, or how to tie off your anchor. Don’t be that person when you get out again after lockdown, and get your skills locked down! Even if you think to yourself, ‘well I already know how to do it all’; you can always be faster and more efficient! Find spots to make anchors around the house, they may not be obvious, but a bit of creativity goes a long way. If you have a big strong tree in your garden, you could even practice your rope ascension and abseiling techniques, just make sure you plan how you will keep yourself safe up there and that the tree branch you choose is strong enough!
Work on your Antagonistics
Finally, a much-neglected activity is the training of antagonistic muscles. For those of you that have not heard of them before, they are the lesser used muscles that oppose your dominant muscle sets used in your sport. Strengthening them can go a long way to helping you avoid injury in the long term. There are far too many exercise variations to go into in this little article, but have but the Lancaster University Mountaineering Club recently uploaded a great set of exercises to do on their Instagram story highlights which can be seen here.
I hope this provides a little inspiration to those who are stuck at home, and a massive thank you goes out from the Rock + Run team to all of those working hard supporting our community during this difficult time. Stay safe, stay at home.