We knew from our Perth to Fort William 2006 hike that we could walk long distance with day packs. What we were unsure of was whether we could do the same in more rugged terrain with full rucksacks.
So we were faced with two challenges. Firstly to get to know our new equipment and in particular our walking poles and rucksacks. And secondly, to get fit enough to hike the Tour du Mont Blanc in comfort.
We have gym equipment in an outbuilding so most days we alternated exercises, one day on the running machine, one day using weights to improve upper body strength and one day on the static bike.
Whenever we could fit a local hike in we did so but with our rucksacks weighted with bricks. Fitting this around work was always a challenge so mostly the hikes took place at weekends. We had three bricks in each rucksack which, not possessing bathroom scales, we guessed would be about the right weight. It turned out later that the packs were 35lbs each which is much more than required but at least explained why some of the training hikes were so tiring.
To get to know our kit and in particular what would be useful to take, we spent a weekend in the Brecon Beacons staying in youth hostels. We climbed Pen y Fan and tried some off track hiking.
The Brecon Beacons probably acted as the greatest confidence booster of all. The weather conditions were exceptionally adverse, especially on the mountain. But we coped.