Training for a Long Hike

Training for a Long Hike
Whether you are planning a traverse of the Presidential Peaks in the White Mountains or planning to hike the Pacific Crest trail, there are several things you can do to train and prepare yourself for it. Training your body not only helps to prepare you for a long hike physically, but it also helps to prepare your mind.


Difficulty: Moderately Challenging

Things You’ll Need:
  • Trail map Pen & paper
  • Trail map
  • Pen & paper
Step 1
Decide what your pace will be like. How many miles per day do you plan on hiking? What will the terrain be like on this hike? If you are training to hike through the Appalachian Trail, then your hike will take you several months, but everyone has her own pace. Maybe you will plan on hiking an average of 20 miles per day or maybe you are going for speed and want to try for more. Or maybe you are planning on hiking a 30-mile route in two days with significant elevation gain. In any case, decide what your peak performance needs to be. You need to be able to crank out a certain number of miles with a certain elevation gain.
Step 2
Consider how much weight you will be carrying on your long hike. If you are hiking a trail several hundred miles or more in length, you are going to consistently be carrying weight, and your body will acclimate to it over the course of your hike. But you can also prepare for the initial shock of carrying weight every day by training with weight.
Step 3
Create a training plan. Based on the pace you have decided to train for, write down how long you have to train before the hike and map out what you will do each day and week until then to work up to your ideal performance. Combine cardio and strength training.
Step 4
Build up to your desired peak performance. Boost your cardio by going for runs several times a week. Start out with what you are comfortable with and slowly increase the difficulty level over several weeks before your hike. If you normally run 3 miles easily, then start running 4 miles and then 5 miles the next week. Try building up to 8 miles over several weeks and then start running a route with steeper hills.
Step 5
Go on day hikes with a backpack full of books, rocks or anything else heavy. Throw in as much weight as you have calculated you will carry on your long hike. Get used to hauling up a trail with weight on your shoulders before the actual hike and it won't seem like such a shock when you begin your long hike. Also, do not start your long hike with a brand-new pair of hiking boots. These day hikes are a perfect time to break them in.
Step 6
Hit the gym a few times a week to build extra strength in your calves, thighs, back, abs and shoulders. Do crunches daily. Your core should be strong; it holds the rest of your body together and detracts from your overall strength and endurance if your midsection is not up to par.
Step 7
Stretch daily. Whether you get into a yoga routine or simply go through a few runners stretches every day, it is incredibly important to keep your body loose and agile during training so you will perform to your full potential and prevent injuries. Don't forget to stretch before and during your long hike, too.
Step 8
Integrate training into your daily life as much as possible. Don't take the elevator; take the stairs wherever you go, and if you can walk or bike somewhere, don't drive. Also, eat healthy. Familiarize yourself with the food pyramid. A balanced diet that fuels your training schedule is key to preparing your body and when you feel good its easier to stay motivated.

Article Written By Naomi Judd

Naomi M. Judd is a naturalist, artist and writer. Her work has been published in various literary journals, newspapers and websites. Judd holds a self-designed Bachelor of Arts in adventure writing from Plymouth State University and is earning a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing from the University of Southern Maine.

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