Getting into shape for a long distance hike.

Getting into shape for a long distance hike.

I’m a pretty active guy, but I do my share of sitting on the couch and watching Netflix if I have a second to breathe (which may only be a few hrs every week or two). My job ensures my maintaining a certain level of fitness. But if you put on a 30 lb pack and walk 10 miles you realize (if you have some level of fitness) that this is different. It’a not just the walk, but the added weight that your body is not accustomed to carrying.

Most people ask “what kind of workout should I do?”. The Man Cub (Jordan) tells me he does some weight training to strengthen his core and adds running with a weight vest (10lbs currently). This is a great approach to getting yourself ready for a long distance hike. I’ve heard of those folks that buy the gear then the next month head to Springer Mountain (AT southern Terminus) as did 60yr old Steve “Mighty Blue” did .

At the other end some guys do long trails to prepare for an even longer trek, as Darwin ontheTrail hiked the 335 mile Pinhoti Trail as a shakedown for his Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) hike. This was about 2 months before he was to start the PCT. Actually he has done long distance hikes before…….in all honesty it’s just a way to turn you guys onto some great adventures. The reality is we can find examples from both extremes. Myself, of course I try to always follow the Scout motto “Be Prepared”.

First, we are what we eat. The American diet is geared to make us overweight. High sugar/carb diet is the catalyst to Diabetes and Cardiac disease. I adjusted my eating. Now I don’t eat bread or starch (Rice, Potatoes etc.). I also watch my sugar intake, which is the hardest thing to do unless you are eating just whole, unprocessed foods. Of course, occasionally “cheating” by eating a small piece of cake at a birthday party as a reward. I can only recall eating 4 pieces of cake over the last 9 months. My will power is no better than anyone else: I’ve just been losing friends to diabetes and heart disease in the last few years. So I guess you would call it “Scared Straight” Food version.

Second, the longest I’ve backpacked is about 6-7 miles and the longest hike was 12 miles I did with my son at summer camp one year (Death March 3 at BSA Camp Rancho Cima). So to see what it was like to hike 10 miles with a 30 lb pack was my goal. I live in a rural area, so I can easily do a 5 mile stroll and not get onto a major road. Being able to stay off high traffic (vehicle) is my personal preference. I try to do 3-5 mile strolls with a backpack every other day or everyday that I can with work schedule. Ah yes the work schedule….I’m a freelance sound guy in the Film and Television industry, and I can be called at anytime to go anywhere. If I’m in another city I’ll try to get a good 4-5 mile walk in or do the treadmill at the hotel. Otherwise I hike with a full backpack. The shakedown hike distance is getting longer I’m now up to 12 mile day. Of course the biggest muscle I have to condition is “MY BRAIN”- the pain of walking 12 miles with a 30 lb pack gives the brain a good workout. How so you ask? I know my brain is screaming at me after about 8 miles “stop, you’re killing me!!”, but I know I can physically do this but convincing my brain is a discipline in itself.

So thats the secret: just walk with a pack on. Sounds simple until you start putting in the miles. In order to get to the goal of hiking that 70 miles in the Appalachian Mountains I feel I have to put in the miles.

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