It’s hard to describe for non-walkers the experience of hiking one of Europe’s great trails, the GR5 over the French Alps.
Here’s my best effort to compare it to an exercise anyone can try at home…
Walk up five floors of your office stairs – about a 15-metre climb if you have 3-metre ceilings. Climb down to the ground floor again. Repeat 24 times. Go out into the street and have a coffee, with a pastry too – you’ve earned it.
Climb and descend those five floors 25 more times. Don’t rush. You’ve got all day, and there’s more to come…
It’s now past your normal lunchbreak time, so go right up to the top floor and stop in the boardroom with the nice view. Eat some sausage, cheese and bread and drink a litre of water. Admire the view for an hour if you like.
Then get back to the task for the day…walking up and down those five floors another 50 times.
Oh, I forgot to mention…to faithfully simulate the GR5 experience, ask a colleague with a watering-can to pour water onto you from above for, say, an hour or two during the day.
Ok, now you’ve done those 15 metres up and down 100 times. That’s 1500 metres in total.
Have a beer. Have two. It’s been a big day. And a good one.
If this post looks off-putting to anyone, I should add that although we’re a fairly active bunch, if we’re really ‘middle-aged’ some world longevity records are in danger. We’re not exceptional athletes and certainly more into pleasure than pain. We didn’t climb or descend as much as 1500 metres every day, though we needed to do it some days at least.
Bottom line, if you think you can manage a stage or two of the GR5, you almost certainly can. Just test yourself out on those office stairs first.