The time of departure to Arctic Canada is drawing closer. Grudgingly I’ve begun physically and mentally preparing for the misery of dragging my body weight across a frozen ocean.
I’ve dusted off my harness and tyres and begun dragging them around Surrey Quays, much to the amusement of the boat dwellers who live around the docks. The brick-work pavement provides great amount of friction and I’m soon sweating and swearing my way around the Thames Path. I walk for around 2.5 miles – a distance I hope to increase in the coming months.
Besides the joy of pulling rubber I’m also hitting the gym regularly where I perform circuits and punishing kettlebell workouts. My aim is to increase endurance and tolerance to pain. So the weights I use have been heavy and the reps have been high, in the 200-300 range.
Perhaps more unconventionally for an Arctic trip I’ve started taking cold showers each morning. This wholly unpleasant experience is my attempt to harden me against the cold and get me to do something that I really don’t want to. I dread switching the shower dial from the three red bar warm setting to the single blue bar. The warm water soon turns cold and whips my breath from me.
Besides the hyperventilation and embarrassing anatomical shrinkage, cold showers provide an invigorating experience that doesn’t just blow the dregs of sleep from my system but ignites TNT under them. They are so refreshing I may stick with them after the trip.
All of this sweat and icy water makes for miserable work, performed in silence* with a grim determination. But a part of me revels in the effort. In the post-workout glow I feel like I’ve drawn the Inaccessible Pole that bit closer. Perhaps there is some joy to be found in the misery…
*Except for the cold showers, sometimes I squeal a bit