'Winter' in the Top End is hot…. seriously hot, which is lovely & novel, but it's h-h-hot!! The locals say NT is either ‘hot, or bloody hot’, never cold. We really felt the difference when we arrived in Katherine, NT, from Lake Argyle, WA, and the warm air hit us. It was 4pm in the afternoon and it felt around 30 degrees. The sun goes down around 630pm in NT, unlike Lake Argyll, where sunsets happened at 529pm, (to be precise!), and its 30 degrees until the sun sets, then it drops to around 20 and remains at that temperature for much of the night and early morning.
We are out in the sun for most of these days, so even though we are covering up with sunscreen, hats and continually looking for shade, you still cop a lot of sun if you are hiking in gorges; setting up camp; walking to swimming holes etc…… By 5pm, a cold beer does not touch the sides! We’ve both noticed that the hotter it gets, the more we drink! You also have to drink faster because your cold beer is not cold for very long 🙂 I’ve never felt a beer go warm so quickly! I’ve always drunk light beer, but I was taking a bit of a fancy to Little Creatures which is 5% alcohol. If I had two of those after a day in the sun, I’d be struggling to make dinner! So I’m back to the light beer, at 2.8% alcohol, I can have two cold ones in quick succession and not feel like I’m going to fall over!
Heat is a funny thing and we are still acclimatising; some days it affects us more than others. We are lucky we brought our FIZZ tablets with us, which are made by Hammer Nutrition in QLD. They are popular with triathletes who train and compete in the heat. If we’ve got a big walk on, then we pop some FIZZ tablets in our water, because water alone is not enough when you begin sweating, the minute you put one foot in front of the other, you need to replace the minerals, vitamins and salt that you are sweating out.
Exercise is also a bit tricky, because if you don’t do it first thing in the morning, it ’s really hard to motivate yourself at the end of a hot day! Walking and scrambling in the gorges of Katherine and Litchfield Park have kept us moving and it feels like a workout, but we are still trying to incorporate some HIIT and TRX into our routine, because, like we’ve said before, at our age, if you don’t use it, you lose it!
This is Jack’s third time that he has taken off around Australia, not always the same route, but he’s done two other long trips to see more of this beautiful place. The first one was when he was 27 and had just arrived in OZ as a back-packer. Fresh out of nine years in the Airforce, and six months cycle touring around New Zealand, he decided to jump in a van with three other travellers (two Irish men and a Spanish fella – it sounds like the start of a joke!) and drive from Adelaide, up the centre and then across to Cairns. I asked him how he exercised when he was in a van with a bunch of blokes, all drinking and partying every night, especially in NT? Most mornings he would get up and start running up the road (there's only 1 road!) and the boys would have a cup of tea, pack up and then hit the road to find Jack. He usually got about an hour on the road before the motley crew would pick him up. By then he’d sweated out most of the beers and was ready for the day. He would also do his bodyweight stuff, push-ups and sit-ups etc every other day at the start or end of his day.
This went on for the four weeks he travelled with the boys and by the end, both of the Irish fellas were joining him on his runs and all of them were joining in on the bodyweight circuit. At first, they probably thought he was mad, but by the middle of the trip, they realised Jack was maintaining his weight, even though he was probably drinking as much as the Irish fellas, and he had a lot more energy.
We’ve not quite resorted to running 'up the road' every morning, but we are conscious that we need to sweat out the beers, and keep our strength training going. We both have an internal clock that says: you’ve not done TRX core for a few days, some cardio or HIIT, or abs/back rows/push-ups etc. When you are in tune with your body, you know when you’ve not done strength work for a few days; you know when you are drinking too much; you know when you have not been eating properly and are too acidic; you know when you’ve not done any cardio for a while.
You have to be in a healthy routine already, a well established one, to really get to know your body and its needs. Does this make it hard for us to completely switch off? Not really, I can sit in a chair reading for a few hours as much as the next person, but once you’ve mastered 20 push-ups, proper ones, it’s just too hard to give that away and let it go.
As fitness instructors we probably have 'too much' knowledge….sometimes you wanna just do 'your' stuff without thinking about it too much, but we know if we are doing rubbish push-ups (cheating!) or when we’ve let our cardio go (because a jog around the oval feels like 10km!!). We can be our own worst critiques, but you can't 'unlearn' what you know.
We’ve done some workouts in bizarre places and really tried to use the local outdoor area to incorporate our daily exercise. Here’s a few of our recent faves:
- Coral Bay: running in the sand dunes (10 x hill sprints) followed by a swim off the beautiful reef.
- Derby – gateway to the Gibb River Road: Hit training on their 1.2km fitness walk to the jetty. The walk was created across the mudflats and is floodlit at night, so you can train between the lamposts: sprint for two lampposts, and jog easy for 1 lampost. There was also a little exercise 'outdoor gym' consisting of a few stations in the middle of the walk, which we hung the TRX’s from and did a workout.
- Darwin, East Point Reserve: an awesome reserve with a jogging/walking track and exercise stations. Perfect for HIIT training on the bike. 10 sets of 1 min sprints and 1 min easy.
- Litchfield Park, NT: 135 steps down to Florence Falls and swim hole. Sprint all the way back up two steps at a time.
- Broome, Cable Beach: HIIT running on cable beach. Steady jog in one direction, 20 secs sprint and 10 secs slow in the other direction. Dive into the ocean!
- Katherine Gorge: 25km return, bush walk to swim hole and river. Power walk in one direction, swim and steady walk back.
- Mataranka and Bitter Springs Thermal Pools: Jog 4 x 900mtr loop bush track around Bitter Springs pools with 20 push-ups in-between each one. Stretches and swimming in the therapeutic 34 degree thermal pool – Ahhhhhhh!
- Batchelor, a wee town on the outskirts of Litchfield Park. Oval running and TRX. Every town in Australia has an oval, some better than others, but we always check them out!
- Eighty Mile Beach: Jog out for 20 mins and back as fast as you can. See no one.
- Point Keraudren National Park: running the bush trails, overlooking the beach and HIIT running back to camp, on the off road dirt track.
- Lake Argyll, WA: Jogging the Lake Argyll 5km mountain bike track at sunrise followed by a swim in the caravan park Infinity Pool.
- Kununurra: a green oasis at the end of the Gibb: Cycle 10km out to the Mango farm for a mango smoothie: HIIT cycling back to the campsite, into a big head wind; you each take it in turns to do 1 min in the front, head on into wind…..sucks the air out ya!
You can always find fitness opportunities where ever you go, if your antenna and mind is open to that. I mean let’s face it, Jack rates a campsite/town etc. on whether there are spots to hang the TRXs!! We do have those chats though when we get to a new place and say, 'well, how about we get up tomorrow early and do a wee jog through the bush and a swim over there etc. Just talking about it and 'locking it in' usually makes it happen and when you get to use the great outdoors as your gym, especially the Australian outdoors, then it's even better.