Hiker during the Inca Trail, in the Cuzco region

Travel Advice Mental training: the forgotten key to successful mountaineering

  1. Homepage
  2. Kandoo's blog
  3. Travel Advice

Have you ever wondered what makes someone a good athlete? It’s very easy to give a genetic excuse like ‘she was born with long legs’. Similarly, when asking why is that person a great leader? It’s simple to assume it’s down to intelligence, or they are just a talented person or they are ‘lucky’. 

Modern day society has in some ways ingrained this way of thinking into us, whereas actually research is beginning to show that it is mental toughness that really makes the difference. 

Mental toughness? What does that even mean? Some call it grit, others self-confidence, perhaps even resilience, but it’s effectively sheer determination for getting the job done. 

But what’s important is it is not something you are born with, it can be developed and trained over time. And it plays a more important role than anything else for achieving your goals in health, business or life in general. 

“Your strongest muscle and your worst enemy is your mind. Train it well”. 

In simple terms, when it comes to fitness, and especially mountaineering, it is more than just a physical challenge, it’s a mental one. You might be thinking this is nothing new, we’ve all heard the expression “mind over matter”, but it’s now been extensively researched and Fitsmind is at the centre of this by putting the theory into action. 

What is Fitsmind? 

Fitsmind originates around the belief that looking after your mind is just as important as taking care of your body. The two go hand in hand - what the mind believes, the body can achieve. 

But if you’re starting to think you’ve hit a yoga inspired blog by mistake, just hang on a second… let us explain:

Fitsmind combines the principles of mental and physical training to offer personally tailored training programmes, which are complemented by real-life support from top coaches. This is not only designed to improve people’s self-confidence and motivation, but also directly enhance performance. Performance in sports, a physical event such as climbing a mountain, or a not so physical event such as making a speech. 

Mountain fitsmind image

All of Fitsmind’s plans are symbolised through ‘climbing your inner mountain’

Or in other words, Fitsmind is founded on the principle of MAP (mental and physical) training. 

What is MAP training? 

In simple terms, this means starting and ending your workouts with visualisation and meditation sessions to train your mind and body to achieve the most sustainable and effective results - not just on your physical performance but in all aspects of your life.

A little bit more background...

It is well known that physical exercise is good for you, and for your brain. However, more recent research from Rutgers University in the US showed that MAP training can also improve physical performance more than physical exercise alone. Delivering sustained results not only generates increased self-confidence and happiness, but ultimately leads people to live more fulfilling lives. 

Fitsmind applies these theories to people from all backgrounds to help them reach their goals, however big or small they might be. You do not need to be an Olympic athlete aspiring for gold to reap the benefits of MAP training. Whether it's being able to run 2km without stopping, or climbing Kilimanjaro, Fitsmind’s MAP training can help you get there. 

So let’s imagine for a second, you’re four thousand metres up your climb, it’s tough, the air is thin, you’re short of breath, the legs are aching, the heave of every step is beginning to be felt throughout your body. 

Aha! See, you’re already doing it before you even realise - you are visualising the challenges to come, and this is key to preparing your body to deal efficiently with them. 

Or if you would rather the jargon - mentally practicing a situation/performance, the brain goes about creating the necessary new ‘neural pathways’, like a blueprint, to be followed in the actual performance. When re-visualising the same action, or physically carrying it out, the neural circuit gets stronger, allowing our mind and body to carry it out more effortlessly - or more specifically increasing confidence, enhancing focus and decreasing anxiety once performing. In some sense, you are tricking your brain pretending what is about to come is already happening, and you are!

While visualising is putting yourself in a moment in the future, meditation is centred on observing the present moment. Not only does this make you appreciate things more - feeling the cold air against your skin, taking in the amazing views and feeling your muscle adapt to what you have just achieved - but research has also shown for it to improve your recovery and increase endurance. 

Sounds great, but how does this relate to high altitude trekking?

The endurance required for high altitude trekking can be achieved by training the mind as well as the body. 

If you train your mind to prepare for the shortness of breath, the exhaustion, the muscle cramps, the dehydration as well as the incredible exhilarating feelings all involved in high altitude trekking, your body will be more prepared when these visualisations are turned into reality. 

Fitsmind strongly believes that mountains represent more than a physical challenge – over and above this, mountain objectives ignite the concept of mindfulness and mental strength, which is interconnected to the challenges people are confronted with each day.

The organisation takes all of its clients on a mental and physical journey, to overcome their mental doubts and fears, and to ‘climb their inner mountain’. In fact, climbing a mountain is symbolised in all of its products. 

Hiking in the Grandes Rousses massif

The perfect match

Kandoo Adventures is the perfect partner for Fitsmind. The two combined not only allow you to prepare in the best way but to successfully achieve a once in a lifetime experience with the most respected guides and tour operators in the world. 

The two companies align in their vision and values and know that only through adventure do you truly discover who you really are. 

Or to put it in better words, George Mallory – possibly the first man to reach the top of Everest (he died near the summit and it’s one of climbing’s most captivating mysteries about whether he had reached it or not) - explains what climbing meant to him and what it is that draws people to mountains and their challenges. 

“If you cannot understand that there is something in man which responds to the challenge of this mountain and goes out to meet it, that the struggle is the struggle of life itself upward and forever upward, then you won’t see why we go. What we get from this adventure is just sheer joy. And joy is, after all, the end of life. We do not live to eat and make money. We eat and make money to be able to live. That is what life means and what life is for.”

 Download and receive a 7 day free trial of Fitsmind here (iPhone only)