While the snow may have retreated, the mountains still provide a veritable playground during the summer and the perfect arena for off-season training…
Maybe it’s breathing in the fresh alpine air, maybe it's the rugged terrain underfoot, either way, trail running ticks all the right boxes. Exploring the mountains on foot is one of the most beautiful, and invigorating ways to stay in shape. Hill repeats can do wonders for your stamina, while some downhill descents can weave and meander just as much as your favourite runs mid-winter.
The UTMB takes place at the end of August, perhaps the most famous ultra marathon going. However, as well as this 170km route that takes an average of 40hrs to complete, there are also smaller trail runs taking place – the MCC is only 40km. Don’t be tricked into thinking it has to get competitive though, just plot your route, stay hydrated and keep a charged phone on you in case you get lost.
Summer is go-time for down hill mountain biking in Europe and you can find some pretty amazing routes throughout your favourite mountain resorts. Dedicated bike parks offer some lofty jumps, and road drops. Head to Morzine, Les Gets and Chatel to ride the parks there, or trip down to Kronplatz in Tirol for some heavy downhill trails such as the Herrnsteig, which has a rigorous 5 mile descent.
Less intense on the body, but by no means less rewarding, canyoning is a means of descending a river through swims, jumps, slides and abseils. It’s a way of accessing the more remote areas of mountains and can be a refreshing day up in the hills. While great canyoning can be had in Austria’s Zillertal and Switzerland’s Interlaken, you can find glorious isolation in the mountain rivers of Wales and the Scottish Highlands.
Perhaps the most humble and under-appreciated form of mountain training, is the hike. From those that last a few hours, to multi-day pursuits that put you deep into the backcountry, hiking is not something to shrug off. Your cardiovascular fitness and stamina will improve, you’ll probably get better sleep, and in contrast to city living, you’re going to be breathing in some of the purest air around. There are some pretty breath-taking hikes to travel for too.
Climbing & bouldering
Whether you’re looking for multi-pitch sport climbing, or you’ve just seen Free Solo and fancy dabbling in some entry-level rock climbing, you’re going to get a full body work out. Engaging almost all your muscle groups, climbing is one of the best ways to stay in physical shape (though the less said about tight fitting shoes and sore fingers the better).
However, if you want to climb, but don’t fancy all the harnesses, heights and equipment, then bouldering might be your man. This is a type of no-rope-climbing on smaller, trickier routes ranging from 12-30ft in height. Don't be fooled into thinking this is easier than sport or trad climbing though, you’ll use muscles you never knew you had!
With an insatiable thirst for travel, Nick Baines is a journalist based on the UK’s south coast. With more than 20 years experience in snow sports, he’s contributed features to publications all over the world.