View Full Version : Conditioning

04-12-2010, 18:55
What kind of shape should a person be in to average between 15-20 miles on the CT.

I work out about an hour or more a day doing a lot of running, biking, and swimming. The other week I did 16 miles on App around Fontana Dam and it kicked my butt. Did 6 the next, 12, then 10 to finish. Calves were just dead by the end.

Any hints on how to get in better shape to average 15-20 miles on the CT.

I'm hoping the section I did was just real tough compared to the CT :o or I just had a bad few days.

I know the simple answer is just hike more but I can't hike 6-8 hours a day during the week and am lucky if I can get four in on most Saturdays and Sunday's. Any workouts others did to get them in shape would be nice.

The CT will be my first experiance into long distance hiking for more than a week so I just want to make sure I can handle the distance.

04-12-2010, 20:08
You have been hiking in the Smokies, so you have a good idea of what your capabilities are for a given hiking day. The Colorado Trial is a lot more graded than most of the trails in the Smokies. 15 miles/day isnt too terrible out there once you get used to the altitude. 20 could still be a push in some areas, especially if you are spending a lot of time admiring the scenery and taking pictures (highly recommended). You also need to watch for afternoon thunderstorms. This may be a bigger factor in how far you hike each day than your physical fitness. you want to try to be below treeline by 3:00 each day to avoid the lightning that occurs almost every day during the summer.

Also, if you can get to the Smokies for a few weekends prior to your trip, that will help a lot with aclimating to altitude. I use the Smokies for a training ground for my Rocky Mountain trips. Getting aclimated to 6000 ft over several consectutive weekends makes a drastic difference when you get to 10,000 ft out there.

04-13-2010, 11:08
You need to increase your endurance -- working out for an hour, even if it's intense, doesn't do this. Four-hour (or longer) hikes with a full pack will help...

Maybe your best bet would be to start out on the CT with a few shorter days, like maybe 10-12 miles, until you're conditioned. Packing lighter will help too -- tired calves could be as much from the weight as the distance/time.

04-25-2010, 14:12
me and a buddy hiked the CT last year and we both had awesome conditioning plans to do before we flew out to denver.

Unfortunately, neither of us did anything except walk around in our boots to break them in. We were coming from South Florida so there was no way to replicate the altitude difference, which I think is the biggest factor. We definitely got into trail shape over the first week (the first day was hell) but the biggest issue for us was carrying weight on our backs. If you only do one thing in preparation, make sure you wear your fully packed pack (including food and water) because for us, as first time hikers, that took a few days to get used to.

06-28-2010, 23:19
I have a similar question.. I live in NJ and my CT hike is just about 4 weeks away. I am 27 and about 140 lbs.

I did 35 miles on the NJ AT last weekend with a 25 lb pack.. 12 miles on Saturday + 23 miles on Sunday with a total elevation gain of maybe 2000 ft (because I did the trail down to Buttermilk falls). I hiked pretty much every waking hour and was limited by the :eek: rocky trail :eek:.. I was a bit drained as well by the end but not dead. (I saw 6 bears!! My first real backcountry sightings..)

During my 'normal' life, I'm trying to walk on the treadmill for 1 hr everyday at 3 mph, at an incline of 12% - 14%. That is, I climb about 2000 ft in 1 hr at 3 mph wearing a 25 lb backpack. (I only weight ~ 140 lbs , so this is a lot for me.)

Besides the treadmill, I swim 3 - 4 times a week for 30 mins .. and do some general training like pushups, pullups once a week and do some stretches (hamstrings) almost everyday.

I understand the first week in Colorado will be tough no matter what but I'd like to average 16 miles / day after that.. we plan to wake up before sun rise and be hiking by first light.

Is the CT going to beat me to a pulp?

Please be honest and any suggestions for a different kind of training would be welcome!! I'm willing to change and work hard for the next month.. there is a gym a minute's walk from my house.

06-28-2010, 23:23
Should add that I feel that walking uphill on that treadmill is the most useful thing I'm doing.. I get small pains in my feet and various parts of my leg that seem to heal and hopefully strengthen those parts. I also get a reasonable leg muscle workout... but most of all, it is a cardio workout. I keep my heart rate between 140 and 155 - 160 for the almost the entire hour.

If no one replies, I'm going to keep walking that treadmill with my backpack everyday like a hamster on a wheel.. :)

06-28-2010, 23:30
It sounds like you will be fine for the CT as far as mileage/day. The primary issue is that you live near sea level, and you will be hiking above 8,000 ft most of the time on the trail. The first 5-8 days are likely to have an affect on you due to symptoms of altitude sickness. Take it easy until you get aclimated. Everyone aclimates at different rates. Dont feel bad about stopping with a short 5 or 8 mile day the first week. By the time you get to the end of the trail, you will be back into the 15-18 mile (or more) daily pace.

The CT is not as vertically challenging as the AT. You will have elevation gain and loss, but spread over a greater distance. The CT is graded for pack animals. Fewer rocks and roots and near vertical climbs. I have found that once you get past the altitude issues, the typical mileage differences are about 1.25 - 1.5 miles on the CT equivilant to 1 mile on the AT.

06-28-2010, 23:34
Thanks for the (encouraging) reply!

I hear the PA AT is far worse than NJ but man, those rocks can really cut your feet up.. I really hope I can look up and around more while hiking in Colorado than just staring at my feet like I do on the AT. Every muscle and tendon in your leg is stretched in every direction in a couple of hours on the AT around here.. I found that I could rarely sustain more than 2 mph on the rocky AT, even when fresh and full of energy.