The Expedtition - Fitness & Training
For the Foxes to fulfil their quest of becoming the first all-female British team to cross the Greenland ice-cap, they will need to be in absolute peak physical condition. To help them achieve this, the Foxes are fortunate enough to have the support and guidance of Dr Justin Roberts and his team at the School of Sport and Exercise Sciences at the University of Hertfordshire. The Foxes regularly attend the university to take part in both physiological and psychological testing and to receive guidance on all aspects of their physical training. As part of their physical preparations for their historic trip, the Foxes need to focus on four core areas: endurance, strength, fitness and nutrition.
If the Foxes are going to challenge the current speed record for crossing the Greenland ice-cap, they will need to cover a startling distance of 650km in under just 6 days…. and then come back again. The team will need to be able to withstand 16 hour days of punishing walking and kite flying, and then get up day after day to do it all again. To achieve this, the majority of the Foxes’ training focuses on increasing their endurance and stamina. Every weekend over the coming months the Foxes will be completing progressively more challenging and enduring hill walks and runs, building up their stamina and strength. As part of thier training, the Foxes can regularly be seen dragging tyres arround Richmond Park to simulate the feeling of dragging a pulk behind them on the ice. So if you see them, come and say hello.
Improving their level of strength is key to enabling the team to drag 60 kilo pulks across the glacier, hauling them over awkward sastrugi. The forces involved in being pulled over the ice by kites whilst dragging pulks mean that the team will need to focus on both upper body and core strength. The foxes will be spending a lot of time in the gym, using weights to build up their strength over the coming months.
Anaerobic fitness is fundamental to completing such an epic and physical challenge. Individually, both in and out of the gym, the team will use a number of techniques to improve their fitness, including integral runs on the treadmill and hill sprints as well as spin classes and circuits. As part of their training the team will also regularly complete VO2 Max tests at the University of Hertfordshire to assess the improvement in their fitness levels.
Nutrition is key to the Foxes performance. Sticking to low-fat, low GI food and staying clear of caffeine and alcohol will help ensure the team stay in tip-top shape for their challenge and will assist their training by giving the foxes the energy that they need for their physical training.
With temperatures as low as minus 40°C, learning how to survive and function in extreme temperatures is a vital part of the team’s training. The Foxes have spent time in Norway, learning how to fight the cold and avoid the severe ‘expedition-ending’ risk s of injury through hyperthermia and frostbite.
Power-kiting is a rapidly growing sport in the UK. Kites are used with boards, buggies and now skis to reach fantastic speeds over a variety of terrains. It is a sport that, like sailing, requires skill to make the most of the weather and wind conditions. The Foxes have received intensive power kite training at ‘Transition Kiteboarding’ in Whitstable, Kent and ‘Ski-Sailing’ instruction in Norway. The girls will be kiting experts by the time they grace the glaciers of Greenland.