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stang66
09-05-2010, 04:11
i am considering attempting a thru-hike this up-coming spring trying to start getting in the right shape for this treck now...what are some of the best things to do to help get ready for this journey and what should i expect from myself before starting?

Idaho_Nomad
09-05-2010, 07:05
I have yet to thru hike but I would guess just getting out and hiking/walking/running would be a good start. Start slow if you aren't used to high mileage.

moytoy
09-05-2010, 07:58
You are going to get a myriad of answers on this one. Know your body and know your mind. The only way to know all this is to go walking everyday. Build up to 10-12 miles a day so that it's like going to the mall. That's where I am now. Of course at the age of 23 you probably don't have to do anything, just get your gear and go do it.

Egads
09-05-2010, 08:04
hike, run, ride, repeat

restless
09-05-2010, 08:13
How to prepare- eat. eat often. eat lots. often.
What to expect from yourself - everyday you're going to want to go home.

Roughin' It
09-05-2010, 08:13
For myself, I did absolutely nothing for a few months before I left. My logic is probably flawed, but I told myself I would be getting in shape during my hike. Somehow it all worked out.

Pedaling Fool
09-05-2010, 09:47
Hiking (thanks to downhills with a pack) is not a low-impact activity. Ask anyone and most will tell you itís the downhills that are the worst, despite uphills being so taxing on the cardio system.

Therefore, it seems reasonable to me that you should do things that prepare you for impact, not so much on cardio-conditioning. However, developing the structural part of you body that absorbs the impact is not so quick and easy to develop, but cardio by comparison is.

(I believe) many people do irreparable damage that they pay for later in life, because they simply start an activity and work through the pain, which works in the short-term, but in the long-term not so good. Just look at all the people that complain of knee and back pain. Itís either normal (meaning our bodies really suck) or people are doing something wrong in life that may not require hospitalization at the time, but creating the injuries that will be felt later in life, which require medical attention.

In other words Iíd concentrate on weight-bearing exercises; including things like skipping rope; using platforms to jump up on and down from; squats; lunges....And also concentrate on the rest of the body, especially back and core muscles.

Have you ever noticed when people talk about getting "in-shape" itís all centered on cardio exercises? Maybe if people balanced out their workout regimen a little with resistance training weíd see a lot less people suffering from knee/back pain.

I would also say donít give your money to the powerful drug industry by wasting money on OTC "pain" relievers. And donít really think about getting in shape for a hike, because itís all for not if you let it go (as so many do) after your hike.

P.S. Undeveloped cardio will be developed on the trail and of all the suffering you go through will have no negative effects later on. But undeveloped ligaments/tendons/bone structure is best developed at a slower rate and if you try and rush it thatís when you get irreparable damage (IMHO).

4eyedbuzzard
09-05-2010, 09:59
Good points JG. Also, there's the old adage "start slow, then slow down." People on a quest like a thru-hike tend to push too hard in the beginning. I've read a lot of posts here about hikers who have developed feet, ankle, and knee problems early in their hike and had to at minimum get off the trail for a week or longer - some for good. Best to start out slower and give the body the first month to six weeks to become trail hardened slowly rather than pushing joints, ligaments, tendons, and supporting muscles unaccustomed to the types of stress found in hiking day-in and day-out right from the get-go. Younger folks may be able to disregard this a bit more than more mature hikers, but you still hear of plenty of young hikers with injuries.

Egads
09-05-2010, 10:46
"getting in shape" also constitutes losing weight for many. Change diet, don't "go on a diet" It's amazing how many empty calories are in processed foods, sodas & juice, and alcohol too. Give these up for fresh fruits & vegetables and you will lose fat & feel better too. Of course, you already know this, just do it.

DapperD
09-05-2010, 11:40
i am considering attempting a thru-hike this up-coming spring trying to start getting in the right shape for this treck now...what are some of the best things to do to help get ready for this journey and what should i expect from myself before starting?Try to get out for hikes on trails with the pack you plan to take and with the weight you plan to haul. You will find out right away what type of condition you are in. Especially (which is really important) is to make sure to find some hills that have some long, steep climbs. No need to overdue it. Just get out and hike. You don't always have to do your hiking with your pack, say if it is too hard at first, but try to work up to bringing it along as much as possible as your pre-thru hike training progresses. Also allow rest days in between so your body can adjust to what you are asking it to do. Make sure you continue to eat good. You will need good food to keep your energy levels high, just don't overeat.


Good points JG. Also, there's the old adage "start slow, then slow down." People on a quest like a thru-hike tend to push too hard in the beginning. I've read a lot of posts here about hikers who have developed feet, ankle, and knee problems early in their hike and had to at minimum get off the trail for a week or longer - some for good. Best to start out slower and give the body the first month to six weeks to become trail hardened slowly rather than pushing joints, ligaments, tendons, and supporting muscles unaccustomed to the types of stress found in hiking day-in and day-out right from the get-go. Younger folks may be able to disregard this a bit more than more mature hikers, but you still hear of plenty of young hikers with injuries.This is where I really believe people make their biggest mistakes which prematurely end their hikes. Starting out is a critical time, a time of breaking in on the trail not just physically, but mentally as well. It takes time for the body and the mind to adjust. Don't let anyone talk you into going farther or faster than what you feel you want to. This is a major mistake. Take your time, go slow at the start. It will be much easier on the body and mind. Do what you want to do. Increase your chances of success.

JAK
09-05-2010, 12:17
i am considering attempting a thru-hike this up-coming spring trying to start getting in the right shape for this treck now...what are some of the best things to do to help get ready for this journey and what should i expect from myself before starting?I wish I was 23 again. Congratulations on surviving your teenage years by the way. I still am not sure how I managed to do that myself, yet here I am.

Live an active lifestyle. Exercise is great also, but the more you can incorporate into going places and doing stuff, rather than just preparing to go places and do stuff, the better. In addition to lower body adventure activities, like hiking, trail running, cycling; consider also some upper body or total body adventure activities, like kayaking, canoeing, rowing, cross-country sking, climbing. Live an adventurous lifestyle. You don't have to be good at everything, or even anything. As long as it gets you there and back again, that's it.

malowitz
09-05-2010, 12:25
I just completed a through hike this year.

Last Fall I was a 270 lb couch potato. I did a 10-week strength training/kickboxing course and hit the trail at around 245-250 pounds.

My first time as an adult with a fully loaded pack was at the base of Amicalola Falls. I walked about 10 miles on flat bike paths around Des Moines in preparation. Most my prep work was gear research and I spent no nights camped out until the trail.

Essentially - you can work with anything. If you're not in great shape, you'll just do shorter miles to start. The lighter your load, the easier it will be.

Mike/Shorts

stang66
09-05-2010, 13:46
Thanks for all the advice! I'm going to start planning some small hiking trips to kind of get a feel for everything soon. I'm very motivated to do this and all but one friend of mine support me wanting to do it so that will hopefully make preparation easier.

Mother Natures Son
09-05-2010, 18:30
Here is an idea, why not ride to work on a bicycle? If it is too far to ride, then put the bike on the car and drop it off where ever you feel good to start to ride. I'm putting in 5,000 miles in on the bike (per year) this way. You get in very shape for the trail this way plus save lots of money too! :banana

Danielsen
09-05-2010, 19:22
If you have any "dead time" in your schedule, use it to just walk. An hour between waking and getting ready for work, or two hours between dinner and bed, just find some time and use it to walk. Consistently. Don't walk with a particular goal in mind, just see how long and how far is comfortable to you. Once you know that, you can start adding intensity, perhaps by adding a weighted pack or adding some running (though research good running technique if you're not familiar, improper-use injuries are all too common) or toss some cycling in there, and just overall ramp up your intensity over time and do what you can to increase the amount of time each day you spend being active. Some heavy load-bearing activity is also essential to building bone density and strong connective tissues. You don't have to do it by lifting weights and etc., just find something heavy and lift it and move it around (carefully, don't injure yourself). I do lifts and throws with the big logs in my backyard. Moving furniture around or carrying buckets of water can serve the same purpose.

Cycling to work can also be good advice. Some of us don't have a choice, and it confers its health benefits on us whether we like it or not. :p

shelterbuilder
09-06-2010, 09:27
FWIW, my advice would be to split your time between hikes with a weight-loaded pack and CYCLING. heavy on the cycling.
Cycling will help to build up the mucsles in your lower body. These muscles will not only move you along the trail, but they will also hold the STRUCTURES of the legs in their proper places. I have 2 bad knees (damage from earlier injuries), and I've used this strategy to my advantage many times. Cycling is also low-impact.

As for all the rest, it's all good advice.

garlic08
09-06-2010, 09:44
It's interesting to see the emphasis on cycling in this thread. I totally agree. I cycled to work for a couple of decades, mainly because it was the best way to make a work day tolerable. I never thought of the health benefits continuing for the rest of my life. When I quit work and hiked my first thru hike, I'm convinced it was cycling that got me prepared. That plus lots of hiking.

Good advice above about joint strength, too, especially on the descents. You need to be able to handle the repetitive pounding and motion.

Another aspect is overall health, hydration, and nutrition. You will be injuring your body at least a little bit nearly every day out there, and you need to rest enough to recover every night. It always amazed me how I could go to sleep hurting after a tough day on the trail, and wake up recovered. I attribute that in part to good hydration and nutrition.

sbhikes
09-06-2010, 10:22
If it's hard to get to a place where you can walk with a pack, try walking to the grocery store with your pack and carrying the groceries home, or walk to the laundromat with your laundry in your pack.

IronGutsTommy
09-15-2010, 00:12
a great workout is squats. i do what are called "Mike Tysons", an exercise the boxer did in his prime before he went nuts. start off with ten cards in your hand. squat and set one card down, and stand, squat and pick the card up. squat and put one card down, then squat and put a second one down. do to squats to pick them up one at a time. the trick is to put them down and pick them up one at a time. using just ten cards, you end up doing 110 squats. i use 20. tyson used a whole deck... warning..if you have stairs, be careful as you may bend ur knees slightly and simply collapse. but i tell you, just one week of tysons with 10 on first day, 20 cards the next 6 days, and youll be ready for the uphill, downhill, rinse, repeat flow of the AT.

IronGutsTommy
09-15-2010, 00:25
squats strengthen your lower back as well as your entire legs. great for backpacking

leaftye
09-15-2010, 01:50
Best thing I think you could do to improve your comfort on the trail is to get your feet and ankles ready. It's pretty easy to tell when your feet are ready. Not so easy with your ankles. My ankles didn't bother me at all until they did, and then it was too late. Calf raises have helped my feet and ankles recover, but I won't know how well this has worked until my next long hike.

Mags
09-15-2010, 09:22
Find the exercises that you will do and is fun for your work week. Variety is good. Eat healthy. Hike (and backpack!) whenever you get the chance.

A healthy and active lifestyle will leave you better prepared much more than 90%+ of the people who start the trail.

JAK
09-15-2010, 10:00
I've taken up rowing this summer. It is helping my running. Nothing better for hiking than hiking though, especially on trails and with hills. Take all the stairs you can though. When rowing, on a rowing machine, it is worth learning the proper technique. I learned at a rowing club, so I was taught properly. There is probably a youtube for this.

Yeah, this guy explains it very well.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eqVmMd7FdAA

Here's the thing. Volume is more important than intensity. Don't spend all your time burning yourself out on personal best 1000m and 2000m. This will only undermine your endurance and your strength. Do most of your rowing at 6 to 12 seconds off your 2000m pace. You can estimate this best with your 500m test. Then add 5-6-7 seconds to your 500m split time every time you double your distance. i.e.

Say your current 500m best is 1:48

500m = 1:48 500m Split, 1:48 elapse.
1000m = 1:54 Split, 3:48 elapse.
2000m = 2:00 Split, 8:00 elapse.
4000m = 2:06 Split, 16:48 elapse.
8000m = 2:12 Split, 33:12 elapse.

But don't train those distance at those splits.
Row 500m intervals at your 2000m pace.
Row 1000m intervals at your 4000m pace.
Row 2000m intervals at your 8000m pace.
Row a 4000m steady state row at 2:24 split, i.e. 19:12
Row a 8000m steady state row at 2:30 split, i.e. 40:00 minutes.
You can row longer, just keep adding 6sec per 500m as you double the distance.
You might want a seat cushion.

JAK
09-15-2010, 10:20
My times from this summer, for those curious...

500m: 1:39 = 1:39 Split
2000m: 7:28 = 1:52 Split
32000m: 2:25:00 = 2:16 Split

Because of my size I can row faster than I can run, at least on an erg. I am still learning to row on the water which has ALOT more to do with technique. Smaller, leaner runners can generally run faster than they can row. This is just because erg rowing is a measure of power in absolute terms, whereas running is more a measure of power for your weight.

I did the 32k twice. Yeah, my butt got sore and I had to get up and shake it off a few times, and then try to make the time up as the clock keeps ticking.

Good points about Erg Rowing:
1. It is a total body workout, legs, core, and arms.
2. It is a great endurance workout, because you are using so many muscles.
3. It is a great strength workout, if you crush the catch and slow the recovery.
4. It is a weight supported exercise, so there is less pounding of joints.
5. You can do more hours per week than running, if your butt and back can take it.

Bad points of Erg Rowing:
1. You can hurt your back if you keep your arms to high or do too much of it.
2. It is not the same as rowing on the water, and can be harder on the back.
3. Your butt can get really sore. Sometimes a cushion helps.

I think really long rows are great, like 32k. You should definitely get off and give your butt a break every 4k or 8k though. Still do it at a slow 32k training pace though. You only need a minute or two to shake the pain out of your butt. Keep the clock running. :)

DapperD
09-28-2010, 23:40
squats strengthen your lower back as well as your entire legs. great for backpackingSquats are definately one of the best exercises you can do, and not just for backpacking. They are very demanding, however, and need to be performed correctely, especially if a heavy weight is involved. It is important to have a spotter available when heavy weight is used. A lot of bodybuilders will even avoid squats, because of the amount of effort involved in having to perform them. The ones that don't avoid and perform them correctely however benefit greatly from the exercise.