Team Bear Grylls Member and Merrell ambassador Lizzie Webb has a life people like me dream of. A thrill-seeking micro-adventurer, Lizzie has been packing her rucksack and heading outdoors since she was a child. Nowadays Lizzie displays her passion for the outdoors through her numerous excursions on the trail, paddleboarding sessions, and a variety of work trips with Bear.
As part of my preparation for the Lyke Wake Walk I have been trying to get as much information and advice as possible from people who have done this kind of thing before, or who are well versed in outdoors based challenges – and so Lizzie was the perfect person to bombard with questions. Thankfully she didn’t comment on my lack of interview technique and gave me some awesome answers that I know will inspire you to get yourself outdoors this weekend!
I’d love it if you could introduce yourself to Splodz Blogz readers. What are your favourite ways to get outside, and what is it about the outdoors that inspires you?
Hey everyone, I’m Lizzie Webb and a self-confessed outdoor enthusiast, there’s no escaping adventure and action whether I’m travelling for work purposes (as part of team Bear Grylls), or squeezing in a trail run/paddle-board session or road trip at the weekend.
I’m always seeking out a new sporting challenge, fresh experience and fun escape, looking to make micro adventuring accessible to ANYONE and empower people (particularly city dwellers) to get outside and exploit the outdoor opportunities that are so often overlooked – whether that be a jog in Greenwich park, wild swimming in Hampstead Ponds, wakeboarding at the docks or sessioning one of the many indoor bouldering walls that London has to offer.
I’m also training to be a qualified Pilates instructor, looking to host outdoor classes in some remote locations at the end of 2015! [Wow this sounds really interesting, I’m up for having a go!]
Getting out into the wilderness (be it localised) is food for the soul and I’m on a little mission to show people why.
I feel that hiking is a perfect way to explore the countryside. What are your favourite trails and views here in the UK?
Absolutely – it’s my fail-safe activity for exploring a new area and a great escape from the busy lights of London!
It’s so tricky to choose my favourites… I’d have to start with Snowdon for its unwavering ability to drench me with rain every time I visit the area, it caters for a range of abilities and anyone can experience that gratifying feeling of scrambling the last section of the main ascent: regal Tryfan.
I took a trip to the Isle of Skye for work last year and had some down time to explore… at the foot of the Black Cuillins are the magnificent Fairy Pools, beautifully crystal clear blue pools on the River Brittle. I even braved a bit of ‘Wild Swimming’. The round trip up to the waterfalls is 40 mins and well worth the boggy terrain!
Macclesfield Forest was a recent discovery of mine, a stunning area of peaceful woodland to the western edge of the Peak District. It consists of two reservoirs and just holds this air of tranquillity. Perfect terrain for biking too.
And then there is Bosham on the coast for its pretty waterside pondering, Brecon Beacons for the somehow peaceful serenity and military ties, and of course the South West Coastal path – 630 miles of spine tingling coastal views that reach before the eyes.
Lizzie Webb enjoying the Fairy Pools, Isle of Skye. I’ve added this place to my list, it looks amazing.
Do you always plan your routes or do you like to just get out and meander?
Safety is key so I’ve learnt the value in forward planning the general route or end point, but leaving room to “freestyle” a little around the main paths. I love the South West coastal path from Seaton to Sidmouth beach (a nice nine mile hike with incredible natural beauty), but like to deviate a little from the main beaten track (that’s the fun part!). As long as you know the general direction you’re heading and aware of your surroundings, you should be fine.
What tips can you give me for building up my endurance in preparation for The Lyke Wake Walk in the summer?
Endurance takes time and certainly won’t come overnight. [D’oh!] It’s vital not to overdo and cause injury but rather build up stamina slowly over the weeks. I’d suggest training with a backpack, getting used to weight bearing on your legs and ankles, slowly increasing the weight and distance. Building up from two walks a week to four, adding in hill walks to get the body comfortable with gradient.
In your daily life be sure to find little ways to lend towards training – take the stairs, calf raises, find any excuse to walk rather than taking the car/public transport. It’s the little changes to your lifestyle that will strengthen your training effort. I can’t emphasise the importance of rest and recovery periods between long walks, too. And like any physical exercise, fuelling the body appropriately is key – hydration and slow releasing, nutritious foods are so important. Wishing you all the best for this! [Thank you!]
What do you do to keep your training interesting? Are there particular sports or types of exercise that could benefit anyone wanting to walk long distances?
I’m a big believer in mixing up my training, not only to maintain my interest and to train my body to cross perform, but it would be a shame not to! Now, more than ever, we have access to so many unique forms of exercise and it’s continuing to grow. In one week alone I can be found clambering up the wall at my local indoor bouldering centre, kayaking down the canal in East London after work, paddle boarding in the docks or winding down with an evening run around Greenwich Park.
To support your training I’d suggest cross training your body (with focus on the lower limbs) to become strong – a long cycle or swim will help build a level of stamina that will strengthen your system to cope with long distance exercise. I’d also recommend Pilates as a compliment to endurance workouts; it will centre and align your body, stabilize your core and do wonders for your skeletal structure. Long distance is taxing on the body so Pilates will keep you in check! [Something I’ve never tried; goes on the list.]
In terms of exercises, the main focus should be on quads, hamstrings, inner and outer thighs. It is actually the descents that really tug on your thighs. Downhill lunges with your back pack are ideal – lunge downhill for 50 yards and build this up in the weeks before your hike. Do three sets, three times a week. For inner/outer thighs, the inevitable sideways movement as you hike works little-used muscles called abductors and adductors. (And if they’re weak, you can strain your hips.), Side skipping is key! So find a flat stretch and side skip for one minute at a time to build muscle awareness in those areas.
What is in your kit bag for a full day out on the trail? What are your must-have items for a happy trek?
Lunch then plenty of Bear Grylls nutrition protein bars, a two litre bottle of water (two to three litres for a more strenuous hike), BG head torch, waterproof, sun cream (even in cloudy weather), first aid kit, BG firelighter, map of the area, camera and iPod.
What inspires you to keep going when you’re on the trail and finding it tough?
I think its as much a physical commitment to the hike/trail as it is a mental one – the two go hand in hand. I’ve learnt that tenacity, persistence, keeping your focus and a cool head are key to any expedition or hike you set out on. It’s so often that the tough times on the trail are most unexpected or catch you off guard so you have to be ready to tackle them head on. Its such a rewarding feeling when you find that inner strength to pull you through a tricky bit of terrain – when your legs, feet and back feel weary and strained but your mind battles on through. I always tell myself there’s no going back when I commit a path! A little bit of humour also helps so make sure to equip yourself with some good running/hiking buddies!
Brecon Beacons reservoir. All photos in this post courtesy of Lizzie Webb.
Thank you so much to Lizzie for spending lots of time considering my questions and giving me some great advice. Now to make good on her suggestions 🙂