Category Archives: Outdoors

Go Kayaking

This post will introduce you to kayaking and show you how easily you can get started in the water.  Hopefully, by the end of this post, you will be able to recognize kayaking as another way to get outdoors, get some exercise, and see some beautiful parts of the world.  A couple reasons to kayak are:

Reason #1: Scenery
Kayaking connects you with nature unlike anything else.  Being on the water in a natural setting allows you to experience wildlife and nature up close and intimately.  It is almost guaranteed to encounter exotic birds, eagles, hawks, fish, or wildlife in nearby forests while you glide along the water.  Do not be surprised as you paddle your way around a scenic peninsula or investigate an interesting cove if an eagle swoops down and snatches at a fish in the water right beside you.  You would be amazed seeing these dynamic creatures in action and there is no better way to get up close than being on the water in a comfortable and dry kayak.  If you take the time and effort to get into the water in your kayak, you will be pleasantly surprised at the tranquil experience of being immersed in nature.

Reason #2: Its fun
The many aspects of kayaking present you with tasks that will appropriately challenge you as you learn to navigate the water.  Beginning lessons will quickly teach you how to: paddle, balance, edge, and roll to recover from capsizing.  Once you get the hang of kayaking you will be able to fully control your kayak and own your area in the water whenever you go.  There is a lot of freedom in kayaking and being able to paddle around anywhere on a lake can be quite a blast.  If kayaking interests you, the rush from gliding through the water will not disappoint.

While kayaking is a unique activity and certainly a cool one to say you have tried or do regularly, it does not come without its disadvantages.  Obviously you need to live in an area that has lakes, coves, or large bodies of water, and it costs a bit of money to get started.  Before you go out and buy a kayak, a roof-rack to transport it, and reorganize your garage to store it, go to your nearest kayak center at your closest lake and sign up for some beginner lessons.

Beginner lessons will supply you with all of the equipment you need as rentals and include an instructor to teach you effective technique to get you well on your way to having fun on your own.  Beginner lessons vary in length from daily sessons that will have you proficient within a week, or once a week sessions that get you certified by the end of the month.  It is encouraged to search a bit online to find the best package for you and your particular needs.  A typical kayak lesson package in my area costs about $250 for 5 lessons.  Lessons are up to 3 hours in length are done in a fun atmosphere.

Kayaking is a really cool activity to get involved in but it has some upfront costs.  Hopefully this posts lights a fire you and gets you interested in kayaking- whether just trying it for a month, doing it in the summer, or getting lessons on your next vacation.  Whatever the situation, kayaking can be a blast so keep it in mind for something fun to do.  See you out on the water!

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Why You Should Hike This Week

The purpose of this post is to convince you to go out and hike somewhere by the end of this week.  You might just fall in love with the many great aspects of hiking and go on to knock off fabulous hikes for the rest of your life.  Here are some reasons why you should hike this week:

Reason #1: The View
Hiking rewards you with some of the most amazing views there are to offer.  While calendars and computer-screen wallpapers have brought stunning views to everyday life, nothing compares to experiencing the view live in person.  There are usually half-way lookouts and other points along a hike that allow you to not only rest, but get a sample of what view is awaiting even higher up the mountain.  The thrill of seeing light through the tree tops as you approach an opening in the forest never gets old and that moment looking out over the mountain is good enough incentive for you to throw on your hiking shoes and get out the door to hike soon.  A wonderful view awaits at the top of the hike for you to thoroughly enjoy for as many minutes or hours as you like.

Reason #2: A Good Workout
Hiking allows you to go at your own pace and get as good of a workout as your body can handle.  You are not restricted to having an instructor or trainer lead your workout so the power is yours on your next hike.  The internet provides the hiker an extensive handbook of hikes with details on difficulty and length.  Find one that is appropriate for you and either shock those Jerome Bettis legs of yours up a steep thriller or take it easy on your first hike on a more gradual, smooth trail.  Whatever your physical ability, there is a hike for you!

Reason #3: The Triumph of Climbing Something High
I have not consulted any academic journals for this one but I think there is something uniquely gratifying of climbing something high.  Whether it is a metaphor for overcoming challenges in life or a representation for what results after steady progress, there is something that is deeply satisfying about reaching higher ground.  Everyone likes a challenge and finding a hike that is appropriate for you will allow you to challenge yourself to reach a point above ground level that you will be proud to say you summited.  So get pumped up about the opportunity to find higher ground and be ready to feel triumphant standing on top of the hill or mountain you just conquered.

To get you on your way to your first hike this week, follow these steps:
1. Search online for hikes in your region.
2. Select a hike that is reasonably close, appropriate length and difficulty.
3. Inform and gather family and/or friends to join you on your quest for higher ground.
4. Select your next day off or convenient afternoon by the end of this week to do your hike, write it down, and commit to doing it.
5. Take your camera and enjoy the world of hiking.

Hopefully you will venture out to hike this week and make your week more memorable.  It could open up the hiking floodgates and reveal an inner passion that you never knew was there.  If the view, free terrain to exercise on, or triumphant feeling at the top leaves you reeling for more, it is encouraged that you seek out other hikes to fuel your fire for more hiking.  Write down other desirable hikes or even just plan more times you want get back on the trail so you get in a routine of hiking.  But most importantly, hike on!

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5 Reasons to Sprint a Hill

This post will introduce you to the world of hill sprints and hopefully demonstrate that doing them can be an all-around great experience! Hill sprints reward you with a sense of triumph upon completion, a great physical workout, and benefit your brain. Anyone can engage in a hill sprint, anytime, and almost anywhere. By hill sprint I mean finding a convenient slope close to your home or work, getting set with a stop watch at the base of it, and running at your appropriate pace up it for the 20-40 seconds it takes to complete. A hill sprint is not specific to just one particular distance or incline either- depending on your physical abilities you can make your way up any sort of slope at any speed you desire.

5 reasons to sprint a hill are:

  1. You feel like a champion at the top
  2. They are quick
  3. Can be done anywhere
  4. They benefit your brain
  5. You notice the benefits right away

  1. Feel like a champion!There is both a physical and mental challenge when sprinting a hill. While that little bulge in the landscape may seem rather insignificant looking at it from a distance, you will quickly recognize the physical challenge at the halfway point, pumping your arms and legs like a madman while scrambling to the top. There gets a point where your legs lose their juice and the hill seems to get steeper and steeper. The cool part is that you have it inside you to push and get to the top. Pushing yourself and overcoming this little obstacle is an extremely rewarding experience and you will live in triumph for the rest of the day after conquering your hill. Hill sprints can be pretty taxing on the body if you push it too hard so if you are new to them, start slow. The objective is to be able to be faster 4, 6, 8, or however many weeks later, so pushing yourself to the max and burning out or getting injured in the first week does you no good.
  2. Hill sprints are quick. You can easily fit a hill sprint into your busy schedule. Depending on your physical ability, you can do anywhere from 1-10 sets of sprints. You will be able to know how many sets are appropriate for you once starting and if in doubt, error on the cautious side. A typical sprint ranges from 20-40 seconds and if you do more than one set, typically a short, 1-2 minute rest is sufficient. So take a quick jolt over to a nearby hill, sprint your set or two with a couple minutes rest, and feel like a champion for the rest of the day!
  3. Sprints can be done anywhere. Regardless of where you live, you will be able to easily find a suitable place to sprint. If you live on the prairies, you might be limited to a flatter slope but you will still reap the benefits of a good sprint. Once you get into hill sprints, it will be easy to start scoping out cool, new places to sprint anywhere you go. The once boring, inclined street in the city will soon become a new territory that you can conquer.
  4. Hill sprints benefit your brain. Along with providing a great physical workout that you will feel throughout your body, sprinting benefits your brain in many ways. Sprinting has positive effects on the brain through several mechanisms, including neurogenesis, mood enhancement, and endorphin release. Neurogenesis is basically the creation of neurons on the hippocampus, the learning center of the brain. Studies have shown improved mood upon physical exertion, as well as the release of endorphins. Endorphins are chemicals released by the brain in response to pain or stress. These chemicals help minimize the discomfort of exercise and play a role in sense of euphoria felt by some after intense physical exercise.
  5. Benefits are noticed quickly after starting sprinting. It is recommended that you take a stopwatch or a friend with you on your hill sprint. There is nothing better for your development than having a specific metric to measure your progress or a competitor running beside you that you are looking to beat. Once you have started taking note of your times and pushing yourself to beat them, you will get faster and faster. The best part is that you will notice the benefits immediately. After your first hill sprint you will have that sense of triumph, your brain will have released those beneficial chemicals, and your body will begin repairing itself to be faster the next time you line up at the bottom of your hill. Expect to have some more spring in your step walking around or going up stairs after just a week or two of doing sprints. Feel free to comment and explain other benefits you started noticing after doing some sprints.

The following will outline how you can get started hill sprinting:

  • Search for a hill close to your home or work that is convenient for you to access
  • Start with just a single hill sprint at a pace you can handle
  • Give yourself at least one day of rest for your body to recover
  • Start with running your hill twice per week and start timing after 1 or 2 weeks
  • Work up to sprinting 3 times per week or however many times you are comfortable
  • Get a friend or many friends to join you to push each other and have a blast competing
  • Set a 4 or 6 week goal, watch your times drop, and feel stronger and faster along the way!

Hill sprinting has a ton of benefits for your physical and mental wellbeing and can be a ton of fun. So get to the base of your closest hill, run it, and be able to say you hill conquered that beast!  Feel free to post times/progress/experiences in the comments!

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