So the countdown to the trek has well and truly begun now that the festive period is over, with only four weeks left to go before we embark on our Arctic challenge. Myself and four colleagues across two of our offices (Jenna McCosh, Jacqueline MacFarlane, Jennifer Guy and Seonaid Cochrane) will be trekking 70km into the Arctic Circle in temperatures as low as -30c to raise money for Maggie's Centres. You can read more about our trek in Seonaid's blog.
For me, most of the Christmas break was spent recovering from a back injury so unfortunately I had to take some time off training. I will therefore be busy for the next four weeks catching up and building strength and stamina before we leave.
We have been given a training plan from the organisers of the expedition. They have recommended that we do various exercises which will build core strength, which will help prepare us for when we are harnessed to the pulks and pulling our kit. As you have probably guessed, this includes a lot of planking, squats and push ups, which in my case requires a lot of self-motivation and still needs a lot of improvement!
To increase our stamina and to help us mentally prepare for the challenge, the plan also provides a helpful guide on the distances that we should be walking when training for the trek. By the time we leave, we should be completing 'back-to-backs' of up to 20 miles. This means that we should be walking on two consecutive days; 20 miles on the first day and 10 miles on the second, with increasingly heavier rucksacks. This will also help with walking in our new trekking boots.
The organisers have also provided us with a kit list, which includes a sleeping bag suitable for temperatures of - 40c (!) and multiple layers of clothing. We will be wearing three core layers on the upper body (thermal, fleece and trekking jacket), with an extra waterproof layer for snow/sleet/rain and a down jacket for when we are stationary, when we are likely to feel the freezing temperatures most acutely. We have a similar layering system for the lower body, hands and feet. We have to ensure that our kit is comfortable (and as smell-resistant as possible!), as we will be wearing the same items continually for the three days that we are trekking and sleeping with anything critical (i.e. water bottles, phone batteries, walking boots) in our sleeping bags.
Other suggested items are snacks (we've discovered that Haribo don't freeze in sub-zero temperatures), hot packs and blister plasters (I'll be taking as many of these as I can!)
Unlike the majority of the country, we will be welcoming the predicted drop in temperature in Scotland over the next month so that we can test out our kit and begin to acclimatise to Arctic temperatures. We do however hope that it doesn't get as cold as -30c!
All of the training and the trekking will be worth it to raise money for a very worthy cause. For many of us, our lives have been affected in some way by cancer and Maggie's Centres provides free practical, emotional and social support for people living with cancer and their families and friends.
We really appreciate the support that we have been given by our friends, families and colleagues so far. The trek and costs are completely self-funded by the team and Brodies so all money raised will go directly to Maggie's. If you would like to donate, or find out more about the trek, please visit our JustGiving page.