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View Full Version : Bridge overpasses a viable training substitute?



mclaught
08-19-2018, 16:26
Hi all, I tried the search function but didn't get much help, so sorry if this has been addressed before. I will be attempting my first section hike next May (Springer to Bly Gap), and I'm currently pretty much a middle-aged couch potato living by the beach. I've started walking a couple miles two times a week carrying my full pack (25-30 pounds), but there are no hills around here and I really have no point of reference to know what I'm getting myself into once I get dropped off in Georgia. I've hiked in the Appalachians before, but just day-hikes to see a waterfall or something.

What I do have is a nearby bridge that crosses the intercoastal waterway. It rises 80 feet over a span of roughly 1000 feet and then 80 feet down again over the same distance. If I can walk back and forth across that thing for five miles, do you think that will be just enough to get ready for the trail, is that complete overkill, or will I still not be ready for the hike up Blood or Tray Mountains? Or would it just be better to find some stairs/bleachers and walk up and down those.

Thanks in advance for any help and insight. I just don't want to get out there and find out I'm completely unprepared.

HooKooDooKu
08-19-2018, 16:33
Definitely not overkill as the grade is only 8% based on the numbers you provided, because the grades on the trail are going to be more like 10% to 20%... so if anything, that's not going to be enough of a grade to really train.
Of course one thing that can help is to walk with a heavier pack than you expect to carry... Try getting used to a 50lbs pack if your pack can support that much weight.

nsherry61
08-19-2018, 16:40
Also, depending on how far you want to hike during your trip, you will probably want to increase your distances and frequency of hiking significantly before you start out. In the end, you can always hike the hike your body is ready and willing to do when the time comes, but plan accordingly. If you are up to 7 miles of flat terrain and 3 miles of hilly terrain in a day that's fine as long as you are happy with that and plan accordingly.

As another alternative that may add variety to your training and increase your leg strength for hill climbing is cycling. There is nothing that can increase leg strength and endurance like cycling. Hiking is the best way to train for hiking. But, hiking, even hiking hills, will not give you the leg strength and endurance combination that cycling can.

grubbster
08-19-2018, 16:57
Find a local sports stadium and walk up and down the stairs. A couple of hours a day with a pack should be good training.

Venchka
08-19-2018, 18:21
You need a rest day weekly. But only ONE rest day in a row.
Take your time getting up to 50 pounds in the pack. Like a month. Add distance and number of days walked. When you get to 6 days in a row and a decent distance then work on reducing the time for the distance. Then start adding weight. 10 pounds a week should be good. Slow down, shorten the walks and reduce weight at the sign of pain or possible over training injury.
Bicycles are FUN! You might find bike touring more fun than backpacking.
Wayne

BuckeyeBill
08-19-2018, 18:40
Bike touring over Hiking? Surely you just. My arse hurts enough already. Why would I want to jam a hard seat to the mix? :banana

Venchka
08-19-2018, 18:46
A. I was talking to the OP.
B. If you havenít tried it......
Wayne

nsherry61
08-19-2018, 18:48
Bike touring over Hiking? Surely you just. My arse hurts enough already. Why would I want to jam a hard seat to the mix? :banana
Because bike touring allows one to cover many more miles in areas with roads with much less foot stress and much less impact driven knee stress. Given a choice between backpacking in a wilderness or bike touring, I'll take backpacking. Given a choice between backpacking a popular trail with road walks and bike touring, geez, I love bike touring! Bike touring is an awesome way to see the country! Bikes suck for slower, spiritual bonding with nature.

nsherry61
08-19-2018, 18:50
Bike touring over Hiking? Surely you just. My arse hurts enough already. Why would I want to jam a hard seat to the mix? :banana
Because bike touring allows one to cover many more miles in areas with roads with much less foot stress and much less impact driven knee stress. Given a choice between backpacking in a wilderness or bike touring, I'll take backpacking. Given a choice between backpacking a popular trail with road walks and bike touring, geez, I love bike touring! Bike touring is an awesome way to see the country! Bikes suck for slower, spiritual bonding with the wildness of nature.

MtDoraDave
08-19-2018, 19:35
Much more boring, but if you have a gym membership and can hog a treadmill for hours at a time, turn up the incline and maintain a climb for a couple hours (with your pack, of course)

I read the book "A Walk For Sunshine" by Jeff Alt, and that's how he prepared - and he was doing 20 miles out of the gate.
.
I do conditioning hikes here in central Fl, substiting speed for hills... The cardio is good and the core workout is good, but there's no training for hills like hiking hills.

BuckeyeBill
08-19-2018, 20:14
A. I was talking to the OP.
B. If you haven’t tried it......
Wayne


Because bike touring allows one to cover many more miles in areas with roads with much less foot stress and much less impact driven knee stress. Given a choice between backpacking in a wilderness or bike touring, I'll take backpacking. Given a choice between backpacking a popular trail with road walks and bike touring, geez, I love bike touring! Bike touring is an awesome way to see the country! Bikes suck for slower, spiritual bonding with nature.

I didn't mean to slam bike touring, more just joking, except about my tender tush :). I will agree about pounding out miles on roads, very hard on both feet, knees and hips. That is one thing about the CDT I hated.:mad:

BuckeyeBill
08-19-2018, 20:14
A. I was talking to the OP.
B. If you havenít tried it......
Wayne


Because bike touring allows one to cover many more miles in areas with roads with much less foot stress and much less impact driven knee stress. Given a choice between backpacking in a wilderness or bike touring, I'll take backpacking. Given a choice between backpacking a popular trail with road walks and bike touring, geez, I love bike touring! Bike touring is an awesome way to see the country! Bikes suck for slower, spiritual bonding with nature.

I didn't mean to slam bike touring, more just joking, except about my tender tush :). I will agree about pounding out miles on roads, very hard on both feet, knees and hips. That is one thing about the CDT I hated.:mad:

mclaught
08-19-2018, 20:40
Ugh, not what I was hoping to hear! OK then, time to get crackin and get off my butt. I will stick to the stairs and overpasses, I know if I started biking, I'd just turn it into a nice leisurely ride and not get any benefit from it. I appreciate all the feedback, and I'll give any updates as needed. Thanks again.

Uncle Joe
08-19-2018, 20:42
Beach sand can provide a fair simulation to climbing.

nsherry61
08-19-2018, 20:44
I didn't mean to slam bike touring, more just joking, except about my tender tush :).
I took no offense whatsoever! Lots of people that haven't spent enough time on bicycles to find the right bike that fits right with the right seat have horrible and nightmarish experiences and sentiments. It is understandable. And then there are some poor missguided soles that have never found the bliss and joy of bicycle touring . . . We can't all live the good life afterall. ;)

Riocielo
08-19-2018, 21:13
Living in south Alabama, we found training for hiking a difficult thing as well. I tried the stair master at the gym and walking on treadmills with the incline up, but they didnít seem to have that much impact on my actual hiking. Now we walk a lot, 150-200 miles a month, and hit the hills at a local golf course.

The best things I did to make hiking easier was to reduce my pack weight by six pounds and reduce my own weight by 68 pounds. That made a tremendous difference in my hiking!

gracebowen
08-20-2018, 00:21
Personally I can't stand a treadmill. I have managed to tolerate up to 10 minutes.

Hiking when I can I enjoy very much. I can easily hike even on somewhat hard trails for 3 or 4 miles even though I only hike occasionally.My longest hike with a pack was 61/2 miles. Unfortunately I bailed on that trip and hitched back to my car the next day.

Oh and for at least a mile I was carrying 2 packs because my daughter was miserable. I mention this because maybe with just my pack I would have felt better the next day.

I'll find out soon I hope. I'm planning a 5 1/2 mile hike next month.

Imho any training is better than none.

HooKooDooKu
08-20-2018, 01:35
I have found mountain biking to be a great way to keep your knees in shape for hiking... but you can't really "mountain bike" along the relatively flat coastline.

BuckeyeBill
08-20-2018, 02:17
You can check with the gym and see if they would increase the incline for you. Then you can increase the level of difficulty on the treadmill. Of explaining to them why you need to do this will help as well. As others have suggest adding weight to your pack will help ass well. Build up the increase of incline slowly, as well as the weight. Eventually going pass your projected target weight. He** they may hire you to teach a backpacking class.

peakbagger
08-20-2018, 05:22
I ran into an older section hiker in Maine once that was on his last year or multiyear thru hike. He lived on the beach in florida. His approach a start out walking 10 miles barefoot on the beach near the waterline (so the sand was firm) then transition to the beach away from the water and then start carrying the pack. His claim was the hot sand toughened up his feet.

MtDoraDave
08-20-2018, 06:56
I have found mountain biking to be a great way to keep your knees in shape for hiking... but you can't really "mountain bike" along the relatively flat coastline.

I have a mountain bike that I ride to keep in shape between hikes. We have a nice little trail here in my home town. It's on the side of a hill, so it has plenty of up and down (for Florida) to get leg and cardio workouts. It does a great job keeping me in shape, until I broke my collar bone last January - which kept me from doing much of ANY exercise for a few months. Then, when I was recovered enough to start riding again (around April), my next crash strained something in my lower back ...
Mountain biking is a lot of fun, but I never had so many injuries riding my road bike - or hiking.

perrymk
08-20-2018, 07:36
I'm of the belief that doing something, almost anything, is usually better than nothing. That bridge walk sounds like a good plan. Not as good as a mountain, but it's what you have. The stadium walk is a good suggestion. Another idea is a stairwell if you have access to one. Tampa has a number of tall buildings.

I've taken to adding high repetition squats to the end of my leg workout. This morning I did 60 pounds for 90 repetitions, working up to 100. My heart was pounding through my chest. Afterwards I walked my neighborhood (2.25 miles) with a 20 pound pack. I also do 10 miles on local trails with a 25 pound pack every Saturday, working my way up to 12 miles with 35 pounds.

We'll see soon enough (July 2021) if it helps with mountains. I suspect it won't hurt.

Leo L.
08-20-2018, 07:54
I ran into an older section hiker in Maine once that was on his last year or multiyear thru hike. He lived on the beach in florida. His approach a start out walking 10 miles barefoot on the beach near the waterline (so the sand was firm) then transition to the beach away from the water and then start carrying the pack. His claim was the hot sand toughened up his feet.

I thought this was a good idea and during a 2 weeks holiday we took last spring, I started jogging barefoot up&down the beach every morning.
After the 3rd day my calves muscle ache turned into a burning-hot sensation in the Achilles tendon. Didn't take care too much but kept on some more days.
Now I'm still suffering from quite a severe Achilles tendonitis.

What I wanted to say: Take care, listen to your body, don't be too hard on anything you're doing as a novice.

JPritch
08-20-2018, 11:58
OP, just don't miss the forest for the trees here. By that, I mean don't focus so much on finding incline that you neglect the big picture.

Bottom line is, the more in shape you are in general, the easier your hike will be....regardless of whether you find training inclines or not. Specificity in regard to hill climbing is simply a piece of the overall fitness puzzle.

- Get lean (less weight to carry around)
- Improve endurance, both aerobic and anerobic
- Get stronger (stay balanced though. Don't just work legs. Core strength will also have a good carryover to backpacking.)
- Hike with a loaded pack wherever you can (this will work those tiny little muscles you didn't know existed until the day after your first backpacking trip)
- And if you want to improve hill climbing...then yes, highway overpasses (do you trust other drivers though?), treadmill, stair climbers, tall buildings, stadiums, lunges, etc....have at it.

Mr. Bumpy
08-20-2018, 16:32
As someone who in the past has done a lot of bicycle touring and now just backpacks from time to time, and having spent 5 years in FL ... no the bridges don't really prepare you for the mountains, and count your FL miles about 1/3 of a mile shorter than anywhere else!

mclaught
08-20-2018, 19:19
As someone who in the past has done a lot of bicycle touring and now just backpacks from time to time, and having spent 5 years in FL ... no the bridges don't really prepare you for the mountains, and count your FL miles about 1/3 of a mile shorter than anywhere else!

Y'all are killing me. Maybe I should do my first section hike in Virginia! Thank you all though for your honest input, I would've gone in completely unprepared, I think. It sure is a lot more fun buying gear and practicing tying different knots than hiking up stairs with a pack on....

Harrison Bergeron
08-20-2018, 19:39
You can't train for the AT. Unless you're a marathon runner, that first week (heck, that first HOUR!) is going to feel like hell, regardless of what you do. For a year prior to my AT hike, I walked three miles every day at lunch and climbed the stairs to my 16th floor office twice a day. It didn't help. 16 floors is only 160 feet. You'll be climbing, on average, three 1000 ft. mountains per day in Georgia and N.C. -- with 30 pounds on your back. That's like taking the stairs to the top of the Empire State Building three times a day.

But the adaptabililty of the human body is amazing. Within two weeks, climbing three mountains a day will merely be a days work. Within a month it will become boring work, and you will start to wonder why you bothered -- which is why the vast majority of folks who make it past Neels Gap don't make it much past Gatlinburg.

You want to be in good enough shape that you don't give yourself a heart attack, but beyond that there's not much you can do to save yourself much pain, unless you think you can become an athlete between now and May. Walking over your bridge and back a couple of times a week is fine if you can keep it up. But mostly, just walk every day. I find it's easier to keep it up if I vary my route.

skater
08-20-2018, 21:33
While you should do all you can to prepare and get in shape, don't let not being perfectly in shape stop you from going. Just pace yourself, plan on a reasonable number of miles per day, and listen to your body when you get out there. People in much worse shape have made it, and you can too. But don't use that as an excuse to not prepare. Better prep makes for better hike.

Traffic Jam
08-20-2018, 21:43
It is always beneficial to exercise. Walking up mountains is hard and sometimes (many times) it sucks, but it sucks less if you aren't in piss poor shape.

So do whatever you can, itís better than sitting on the couch tying knots.

BTW...I believe Dogwood recommends walking in the surf to train for hiking. Do it with a pack.

:)

Alligator
08-20-2018, 23:26
Elliptical machine is a great trainer if you go to the gym.

It's good to get outside and walk but 80 ft is a tiny elevation gain. I don't really note much on an AT profile until it hits 500 ft of elevation change which is a pretty regular daily occurrence on the AT. I don't recommend confining yourself to the bridge just for the 80 ft.