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  1. #1
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    Lightbulb Keeping hiker fit in the south

    Ok, so I live in one of the least hilly spots in the country. Before my last hike I was training at a 4 - 5 miles in a
    1 1/2 hr pace; three times a week. It served me well as I got from High Point to Gren Anderson in one day.

    But I just went on a 5.3 mile hike on the Florida beach soft sand in my FULL pack and hiking boots and found my new training spot. This is really just a post to remind us all no matter where we are, think outside the box and you can find great hiking training area.

  2. #2

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    I find that if I can comfortable run/jog/walk 5 miles every day prior to a trip it is SO much more enjoyable then when I have been fat and on the couch for a month
    Trail Miles: 3,715.9
    AT Trips: 67
    AT Map 1 Completion: 1818.9 Springer, GA - Franconia Notch, NH
    AT Map 2 Completion: 263.8 Gaps From GA - PA

  3. #3
    Lnj's Avatar
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    I am only a Saturday morning day hiker and a once or twice a week track walker. What is considered a decent training? Keeping in mind I am starting the 75ish mile GA to NC hike in May and am a mom of 2 teens, one in football and the other just driving and working, and have a full time 9 to 5?

  4. #4
    CDT - 2013, PCT - 2009, AT - 1300 miles done burger's Avatar
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    Walking on flat sand won't really train you for hiking mountains. Get a gym membership and walk uphill on a treadmill with a full pack at a 10 or 15% grade for an hour or more a few times a week. That's a pretty decent simulation of hiking if you're in the flatlands.

  5. #5
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    ^Agree. Probably the closest simulation you can get without actually hiking.


    15% treadmill grade (no holding on to the hand rails!!) at the fastest pace you can handle with a full pack for 30 mins to start, then work up to an hour or more 3 x a week.

  6. #6
    Registered User zeldaminor's Avatar
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    The elliptical machine is another good bet. Set the tension high for a while and do circuits. I find this helps strengthen my leg muscles.

    I've also found that core-strengthening workouts help overall strength and dealing with a full pack. I am within 3 hours of mountains for weekend hiking, but it's not always possible, so I do a lot of jogging, at-home workout DVDs (Bob Harper's Inside Out Method series will kick your a**!) that incorporate strength training and cardio, brisk walking after dinner, and occasionally a recumbent exercise bike or yoga. I typically jog or do a "bootcamp" workout first thing in the morning, do a 30-minute workout before dinner, and take a long, brisk post-dinner walk. When I do weekend day hikes, I carry a full pack whether I need it or not for the practice. I don't have a gym membership because of expense/hassle, I work three jobs and live in a tiny apartment, but I'm in the best shape of my life right now. Thinking outside the box ftw!

  7. #7
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    Living in Tampa this is a question I've been thinking about lately. I think there are five basic categories of training to prepare for an extended hike. 1) Cardio for overall endurance. 2) Leg strength for walking and climbing. 3) Tendon's, ligaments, other connective tissues for uneven surfaces and descents. 4) Core and upper body strength to carry a backpack. 5) Flexibility for comfort and quicker recovery. I think cardio benefit can come from any exercise that does not send you into the mountains already nursing any overuse injuries (run, walk, swim, bike, treadmill, etc.) For leg strength I am jogging 2-3 times per week and doing a strength class with squats and lunges 2-3 times per week. For strengthening connective tissue I think jogging on grass or trail (or the sand hike as previously mentioned) might be a good idea. I typically run on concrete sidewalks and the slight variation of surface I have read will strengthen smaller muscles in feet, ankles, and legs. For core and upper body I have the 1-hour strength class mentioned. For flexibility (and quicker injury recovery) I am doing nothing -- but thinking of adding a yoga or stretching class at the YMCA. I am preparing for a NOBO from Springer at the end for March, 2016. I hope the first week to ten days will help me get my trail legs but this preparation should help my stamina and my morale. Thanks for the idea of hiking on a steep treadmill with backpack. I will try that too.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by burger View Post
    Walking on flat sand won't really train you for hiking mountains. Get a gym membership and walk uphill on a treadmill with a full pack at a 10 or 15% grade for an hour or more a few times a week. That's a pretty decent simulation of hiking if you're in the flatlands.
    I'm not sure I completely agree. If the sand is thick it would seem a good simulation. Ultimately, it's resistance with hiking and sand would appear to provide that. Certainly weight training, inclined treadmill, etc. is best but barring that I don't see why sand wouldn't provide benefit.

    I recall many Florida cyclists that would come up to our annual mountain bike festival in the Ga mountains. They did very well on the climbs which we found odd. The explanation was that in Florida, while there are no climbs there are also no descents. No coasting time. You pedal constantly, especially on the road. Between that, headwinds and sand you appear to have plenty of resistance. That seemed to pay off well in the mountains, FWIW.

  9. #9

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    lnj - before my long hikes, I would walk for an hour (3 miles) every morning or evening and then do a long dayhike or backpack hike on the weekend. That got me in pretty good shape. Running is also good but doesn't train the back/shoulder muscles in the same way.

    To the OP - another option in Florida is bridges. You have some very nice arches that can give you practice with going up and down, especially if you do them briskly.

  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by burger View Post
    Walking on flat sand won't really train you for hiking mountains. Get a gym membership and walk uphill on a treadmill with a full pack at a 10 or 15% grade for an hour or more a few times a week. That's a pretty decent simulation of hiking if you're in the flatlands.
    It's true that walking on flat sand won't prepare your upper leg muscles for hiking up and down mountains; however, I still think it's very much worth the effort/time. I run (barefoot) on the beach, both the hard-packed and soft sand and the hard-packed sand is great for toughening up your feet and the soft sand is great for working the little muscles/connective tissues in your feet/ankles, something you'll never get on a treadmill, but very much need for hiking in the mountains.

    For leg muscles you don't even need a gym, just do all sorts of leg squats, including single leg squats, lunges, skipping rope and work up towards impact oriented exercises, i.e. plyometrics.

    P.S. I also run up and down the bridges in Florida, since they are fairly high/steep.

  11. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by jpolk84 View Post
    I recall many Florida cyclists that would come up to our annual mountain bike festival in the Ga mountains. They did very well on the climbs which we found odd. The explanation was that in Florida, while there are no climbs there are also no descents. No coasting time. You pedal constantly, especially on the road. Between that, headwinds and sand you appear to have plenty of resistance. That seemed to pay off well in the mountains, FWIW.
    I'm a Florida cyclists and yes, it's true there is no coasting, but add to that the headwinds and it's just like riding up hill all day, stop pedaling and you're DIW.

    I almost never have a tail wind, which sucks, but I'm a stronger rider for it, but it still sucks...

  12. #12
    Registered User Walkintom's Avatar
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    Parking garage stairs.

  13. #13
    Lnj's Avatar
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    Very helpful advice. The training (for me) has to coincide with normal life activities/responsibilities.
    " Of all the paths you take in life, make sure a few of them are dirt. "

  14. #14
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    Lnj - I had the same issues when preparing for my 2013 thru attempt. I ended up walking three to four miles a day, with a longer hike on the weekends, every couple of weeks. I also used a step exercise platform at home to simulate climbing, going up and down for as long as I could (started at five minutes and worked up to 45) five nights a week. As I got stronger, I found a local park with a native American mound with steps to the top that I walked up and down as many times as I could five days a week. That plus squats, leg extensions and curls, glutes raises, calf raises, and side leg lifts (first upper leg and then lower) at home three or four day a week gave me all the strength I needed to haul my overweight self and a 30 pound pack up and over the Georgia mountains. One thing I thought really helped was simply balancing on one foot at a time for as long as I could without tipping over each day. Strengthened my ankles and did wonders for my balance.

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    Why dont more train by running?

    It's too hard.

  16. #16

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    Quote Originally Posted by MuddyWaters View Post
    Why dont more train by running?

    It's too hard.
    ...on the knees.

  17. #17
    Registered User ekeverette's Avatar
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    you are doing good, but the trail itself, in just a few days will get you in all the shape you want...... trust me!!
    eveready

  18. #18

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    Quote Originally Posted by rocketsocks View Post
    ...on the knees.
    Actually, my knees are much better since I became a runner. Backpacking did a lot of damage, running has done none. The only time my knees hurt now is when I hike on steep trails, and the pain isn't as bad or as lasting nowadays.

  19. #19

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    Quote Originally Posted by Walkintom View Post
    Parking garage stairs.
    +1 and perfect for up and downhill conditioning!

  20. #20
    Registered User egilbe's Avatar
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    Walking lunges. If you want to make it harder, hold a couple dumbells over your head while you do them.

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