View Full Version : How Much Training is Required?
I'm considering giving a thru-hike a shot in 2004. I'm 43 years old. I'm in reasonable, but not exceptional shape. My workout schedule is not overly intense. I do, however, get on the treadmill 3 to 4 times a week. The workout consists of a 45 minutes fast walk on a 2 degree incline.
Is this exercise routine enough to at least allow me to get off to a good start on the trail? Or should I plan to pick up the pace on my exercise routine as the hike gets closer?
Being in shape before hiking the AT makes it easier to adjust to life living on the trail. I'm not an expert but I think a person who walks regularlly (treadmill) would be better prepared than the average AT thru hiker. Adding some walking or hiking with a 20 to 30 pound pack would help. A good thing about the AT is the hiking season is long enough to get in shape on the trail. The information I got before my hike was to go slow in the beginning and not average more than 8 miles a day for a week and then slowly increase your average mileage. Most people will be "trail hard" in about 3 to 4 weeks. Its possible to do this and finish the trail within the hiking season which seems to get longer every year but generally runs from March to mid October (for a northbound hike).
Anything that gets your heart rate up and works the lower body is good. If you are doing a treadmill, try doing it with 30 to 40 pounds on your back. A stepmaster is also good.
However, get outside and hit the park, or climb stairs at a stadium. Ride a bike, cross country ski, snow shoe. Plenty of ways to break up the bordum.
Agree - definitely add aerobic training to built up lungs and heart. I'm 49, and believe me, not the kiddo use to be, have the muscle power but I definitely will add aerobic training to my workout.
Last trip concentrated on weights, upper body one day, legs second (isn't the way to do it by experts for body builiding) but is only way for me to stay interested. Worked out 6 days a week this way, (for six weeks workout lasted about 40 minutes each day) lost some needed fat and gained strength both in legs and arms - was able to press 3 sets of 194 lbs with legs during last week of workout, but did not do enough aerobic training, I paid for it on trip. I'm about 5"9 and weigh around 198 lbs now (was down to 194 lbs)... (need to be around 185 lbs - believe me when you turn 40 the weight just hangs on to you)
Talllahassee has some decent hills and great football stadium. Plan to strap on pack do both and gradually add weight to point that I will be able to climb both with more weight than I would carry on trail. Will continue weight training.
Hiking with pack on should be part of your regime in my opinion
My buddy and I have done 36 consecutive section hikes. We used to go 3 times a year, but now, since we are hiking the NE portions of the AT, we go one time a year for 2 weeks. About 8 weeks before each trip we load up our packs with 35-45 lbs of weigth and walk the hilliest sections of our neighborhoods. It pays off, plus you'll enjoy the trip a lot more. For a through hike, I would want to stack as many things in my favor as possible.
Any type of training is obviously helpful but a treadmill won't help you when it comes to rocky, rooty, muddy, wet climbs and descents that are common in Georgia and other areas. Try to get a pack on and do some miles on a trail.
In 2001 I was doing 7 steep miles every other day with 30 lbs on my back for 3 weeks in preparation for a 500 mile section hike. It definitely helped but still had knee problems and shin-splints. Of course I was an ass and was doing 15-20 right outta the gate, not a good idea but you can do it...but probably not in Georgia.
Getting in shape to hike the trail is best accomplished by hiking the trail. Start off slow and the rest will come.
You don't have to be fit to complete the AT. You really don't. It just makes the first couple of months alot easier. Have a look at a photo of Sleepwalker at trailjournals.com. He is around 290 pounds.
I started the trail at 275 and finished at a nice 210.
The best way to get pack fit though is with a pack on your back:(
Thanks for all of the advice.
I think I've decided what type of training I will do.
I plan to put about 50 pounds into my pack---6 plus gallons of water dispersed throughout the pack. Then, I'll start climbing up a nearby "bluff." I also plan to use the high school football stadium so that I can begin climbing stairs with the pack.
It's tough to find many hills, let alone moutains, around here (Chicago, Illinois). But, there is a decent hill a few miles from my house. I don't plan to kill myself---but, I'll test myself just enough to see if a thru-hike is really in the cards for me.
50 lbs may be over kill. One thing long distance hikers realize is that excessive weight = excessive strain. You might wind up adapting you muscle and respiration while destroying your ligiments. Carrying a more realistic weight while training might be the best way to go. If you wish to turn efficient to proficient climb steeper hills / more stairs.