Training for long distance hiking

These are the steps I took to prepare for my Appalachian Trail thru hike. I began my training more than a year in advance of my start date.  I already had a membership to Planet Fitness and I began a regular workout routine.                                                   Even while I was in the stages of the first topic today I continued with my routine. This routine will be discussed in detail later in the article. I’m not sure if the process I used will work for others but this is just one guys way of trying to make his dream come true. Not mentioned here later is  the savings plan I’m not going into details but I have learned to get by on much less than I used to.

Assemble gear for hiking

So it was winter and I have never snowshoed and was in recovery from a lung surgery. I couldn’t lift weights for 2 months and still weakened from my recent procedure. Cardio was my friend and I spent 45 minutes a day  daily on the cross country machine(elliptical) or the stair stepper(arc trainer). On both machines I would engage all the muscles in my legs by lifting my ankles with each step. This is a natural motion that is overlooked on these machines and it adds a calf screaming aspect that pays off dividends while hiking.                                                    This is when I assembled the gear I will be using on the trail. I have around 22 lbs of essential items leaving the remaining balance for dog and people food, toiletries, and clothing. Ultimately I will be carrying around 30 lbs maximum of 33 lbs.                                                                                                                                  Gear includes tent and sleeping system at around 8 lbs. a bear cannister, backpack, Downpuffy jacket, rain jacket, trail runners, hydration reservoir, lightweight DSLR, and a few assorted items for cooking etc. I took my time and ordered all the items weekly as I had the spare money to do so. This took almost 3 months but eventually it was a starting point.

Cardio for long distance simulation

While the gear was coming in I continued my cardio training it was still late winter and I couldn’t get out to backpack without the gear. Around then I was shooting for five hours of intense cardio a week. During these sessions my goal was to see how far and how fast I could work those machines.                                        I even added in the treadmill at a high incline for uphill hiking simulation.  I have always stretched and consider it a vital part of any workout routine. Daily stretching keeps the body loose limber and agile it really is one of my favorite parts of my day.

Weight training and stretching

Around March I was able to begin to lift weights again so I added 2 weight days to my routine by increasing elliptical time to an hour 5 days a week then one day was arms upper body and abs and mid week it was legs and abs. I also boosted my stretching time to around 8 to 10 minutes.                                                                    I was ready to go I was feeling great looking better and confident. For my stretching routine I start on quads hamstrings and calves for about a minute each then I move to upper and lower back midsection and finish with arms and shoulders. Currently my stretching routine is about 15 minutes a day due to the next chapter.

Weekly “day hikes” and mini vacations

When all my gear was assembled I began taking weekly hikes.  Ah a day hike how nice except my day hikes consisted of carrying my 30 lbs of gear yes even my tent ( which I carried for over 3 months without setting it up) I carried this everywhere 5 mile hikes in the park six mile hike in a different park.                 Then it spiraled out of control and I was climbing mountains and walking on 14 mile hikes all while carrying that backpack. Some days other hikers would look at me and say “you’re packed a little heavy for a  ”  or “wow are you camping out?”  to which I’d reply nope training for a thru hike. Wednesdays became my torture days and as the year went by every week rain or shine I was on a new adventure.                                                                                                                              All the while continuing with the weight training cardio I stopped because the hiking was giving me ten to twelve hours of cardio a week all in one day. I also took a mini vacation and camped out in August where I hiked over 40 miles in five days. My longest day has been around 19 miles and took over twelve hours I’ve crossed suspension bridges rock climbed for small sections and done more than I thought I’d be able to accomplish including climbing New York’s highest mountain.

Worth the extra effort

Now I feel the time approaching to accomplish my dream and I feel the extra effort I have put into my training for a long distance hiking trip will help me realize my dream. Statistics say that 80% of would be thru hikers quit in the first 30 miles of Georgia, my thirty miles we’re up last April. I literally destroyed a pair of trail runners just to prepare to do this adventure by hiking over 450 miles in them,  they have no tread and have just become structurally unfit to walk in.     That’s about the average lifespan of a pair of trail runners so not to boast or brag but I feel that I am more than ready to go and all of the hard work has definitely been worth the extra effort. I’ve met lots of interesting challenges and taken unique fantastic photos and the best it yet to come. I know my gear will hold up how to use it and that I can handle long days with heavy loads. Follow along on my adventures on Instagram username is ta2d_preist. Enjoy this leave a comment and thank you  for taking the time to check it out.





2 thoughts on “Training for long distance hiking”

  1. Hello Earl, thanks for the blog share. I have never been hiking before, but I am looking forward to it someday. I tend to exercise a lot by using my road bike. I can do up to 30-50 miles per day, and that includes big hills going upwards. I also like to walk a lot as well, but I do need some experience of walking up mountains. I plan to go on a wonderful hiking adventure soon. Thanks again, and continue to create wonderful hiking articles for your audience to read!!!

    1. Hi Ahmad, thank you for the kind words good luck on your upcoming hiking adventure and bike riding is an excellent all round activity
      which will benefit you greatly in the event you do get to climb any mountains. Remember to choose your footwear wisely ha ha that may be a good topic for you as well I prefer trail runners to boots again thank you for your visit

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