How to Introduce a Middle Aged Man to Hiking in the Outdoors

‘every adventure requires a compass, curiosity, a journey, a creative mind and someone willing to play’

Justin 1

It’s a delicate art getting an ocean loving, middle-aged man, a bit set in his ways to take up hike boots and weekends of hiking and then fast forward to an overseas trip where surfing and hiking share a platform. We did it though!

My boyfriend Justin is a wonderful and amazing person. He is my best friend, my main squeeze and my favourite surfing buddy. He has had a long and successful career with surf lifesaving, has played rugby, fairly good runner, great surfer and worked quite a few years in exploration so no stranger to being outdoors. One thing he hasn’t done a lot of though, is hiking. When we first got together we surfed a lot, watched a lot of post sunsets with a beer in hand and enjoyed a few summer post surf sunrises and coffee. The great thing about Justin is that he is mostly up for everything so we added trail running to the mix which was just a bit more fun and then…I suggested throwing bushwalking into the mix for the days when surf wasn’t on the cards.

Justin 2

What can I say, the first reaction was a long period of silence with a poker face. I thought he might not have heard me, so I repeated myself. More of the same reaction. Silence along with the poker face.

Then he said he would give it ago.

Justin 3

He was interested so all I needed to do was to make it fun and keep the stoke going so we worked on achieving this by;

  1. Setting a goal – we all know how important this is for motivation, commitment and drive so one of the very first things we did was to set a goal to work towards. For us, it was going to be a weekend down at the Stirling Ranges which was a short 6 weeks away and then upcoming trips to Hawaii and Indonesia where we did plan on doing a few day walks.. The whole idea was to make it realistic and achievable but with enough challenge to keep motivated.
  2. Training – A client of mine from a past trip to the Overland Track in Tasmania had given me feedback around the training for the trip commenting on how he found it both important and useful that the training was recommended to be all outdoors and on terrain similar to what we would experience. We worked out a training plan that allowed us to head out to local reserves, state and national parks which meant we would get outside but also that we would be walking on dirt tracks. Justin is keen on military history (from his father) and rocks (from his exploration background) so a lot of the places we walked exposed him to things he was interested in. The training program we followed was fun, varying terrain and locations, outdoors and challenging enough but not so challenging that it would blow him out of the water in the first few sessions.
  3. Clothing and Gear – Justin had commented that other short walks he had done he had a really uncomfortable back pack and normally walked in his running shoes.  One of my greatest lessons from working and playing in the outdoors has been the importance of appropriate gear. It keeps your dry, stops blisters, keeps your comfortable and warm and is durable.  Looking at outdoor gear is one of my favourite pastimes. After finding the right pair of boots – the Mammut GTX hike boots are both comfortable, supportive (he is over 50 after all) and although especially made for hiking can double as a travel shoe (and he has worn them on planes and to and from. We then bought an Osprey daypack which are well-known for their comfortable harness system and we chose a pack that had multiple uses – outdoors, travel and work. Finally, and surprisingly we purchased a pair of Lulu Lemon lightweight shorts that would be perfect for the trails. I have found Lulu Lemon gear, while not specifically tailored for hiking to be both durable and comfortable. Good gear is important and will be the difference between comfort and durability.
  4. Time to celebrate – Each week we would do what we referred to as a ‘long walk’ which was choosing a new walk to do.  Totally loved the options that we discovered in the blog the Life of Pi which definitely made research easier that’s for sure. We made a point of following up each walk with a celebration. Celebrations included stopping off somewhere on the way back from a walk for a pub meal, winery lunch or even just taking along thermos coffee and chocolate cake to enjoy at the end. Rewarding yourself and celebrating your achievements are important and adding this extra layer to our training program made for more fun and gave us something to look forward to.
  5. Including it as part of our travels – in 2017, Justin and I had planned to do multiple surfing trips to celebrate our love of all things around the ocean and waves. Waking has naturally been added and everywhere we have travelled to surf, we have found a half or full day hike to add into the mix.

South Point

We are now on a lovely journey combining alot of outside time that includes surfing, trail running and walking. Don’t get me wrong, there have been days of kicking, screaming and man whining (never in the waves, though) but once out on the trails in his comfy hike boots and clothing, Justin reverts to his naturally curious nature and will happily admit he is having fun checking out plants, trees, rocks and being miles away from the city.

Will we do a multi day walking trip one day – who knows but the journey is young so time will tell.