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  1. #1

    Default Is Your Training Regiment Paying Off Or is the Beaker Half Full?

    My hypothesis and basis for this subject is: That it may not be possible for an individual to be able to accurately train with the miles required for the demands of a 25-30 MPD walk if they are currently maintaining a day to day life ie kids, job, homeowner etc.

    Example Dialogue: "I can't train for this like I need to because I have a job, family and responsibilities. 12 miles once a week is not going to be enough to build legs and stamina for what I am setting out to do."

    Lets say I walk 12 road miles once a week for a year, to train for a 3-4 week long hike in which I will be walking 20-30 miles a day.

    I will be doing my road walking if it is deemed non contributing because I enjoy the walks.
    But I AM curious as to if this walking will contribute to better success on trail in several ways:
    • Building my legs
    • Toughening my feet
    • Working on my pace
    • Further conditioning the brain to long walking periods

    Lets say that we have a symbolic beaker like in science class and the fluid we fill it with represents our gain from the training, in this case the road walking. Oh...and there's a tiny hole in the bottom of the beaker.
    On week 1, I walk the 12 miles and that fills up my symbolic beaker by 10%....The fluid is running out of the hole right? Because if I don't continue the regiment, the strengths I gained from the only 12 miles completed will fade away.
    But lets say its week 2 and I do it again, another 12 miles. Here comes the punchline!!!
    At this frequency, will that second 12 miles compile any on the first 12 miles or will my beaker be empty be time week 2 arrives for my next 12 miles and thus just filling my beaker back up 10% or will I then be at 15% (not 20% because we should account for some loss from week 1.
    If we are not at 0% starting week 2 I do think that I will plain out at some point where my beaker would just go into maintenance mode for the level I have exercised/ trained at and to "increase my beaker size" so to say, I would have to increase my mileage by any amount more than 12 miles a week for a direct correlation to the new size of beaker I can fill up.

    Does my beaker become empty?
    If my beaker does not become empty, how long until the beaker is in maintenance mode and will need an increase?

    Disclaimer: I have been road walking for thousands of miles since 2012, typically 10-16 miles once a week in the Upper Cumberland area of Tennessee. I have mapped out and recorded scenic loops and out n backs routes of various lengths and difficulties. I have picked up up hundreds of bags of alum cans and have met some amazing people over the years. I typically find a route a like that I can access from my current residence and I stick with that. Luckily for me where I currently live and plan to live at for the next 8-10 years I have a whole network of "holler" and riverside backroads to create routes thru. I have a dream of creating a Tennessee backroads road walking route across the state of Tennessee showcasing some of the finest scenic backroads the state has to offer but that will be for retirement maybe.
    Trail Miles: 5,154.2
    AT Map 1:
    ✔ | 13-21'
    Sheltowee Trace: ✔ | 20-23'
    Pinhoti Trail: ✔ | 23-24'
    Foothills Trail: ✔ | 24'
    GSMNP900: 134.7(17%)
    AT Map 2: 279.4
    CDT: 210.9
    BMT: 52.7

  2. #2


    You have to put in the miles so you can put in the miles

  3. #3
    Registered User
    Join Date


    It's commonly said that the only way to train for a long distance hike is to take a long distance hike.

  4. #4
    Registered User Slugg's Avatar
    Join Date


    Interesting way to phrase the question. I, too, live a “traditional” lifestyle (homeowner, wife, no kids, 9-5 job) and get out and backpack 20+ mile days so I think about this topic fairly frequently.

    Im your metaphor what level does the beaker need to be to be able to meet your backpacking goals? What does 100% full mean?

    If we take your example literally, one 12-mile walk per week where one hike raises the beaker level by 10%, I don’t think the beaker would get much higher than..15-20%? But that is if ALL you are doing are those 12 mile walks, which I suspect is not the case with you. I’d bet a 12 mile hike in conjunction with other regular activity (shorter walks, walking with a heavy pack, working out, playing sports, other “outdoor recreation”, yard work, stretching, the actual backpacking trips, sometimes walking more than 12 miles, etc..) would get the beaker level much higher. Basically, live an active lifestyle.

    I take a 10-20 mile day hike every other week or so. I walk the dog a couple miles a day (sometimes with a 30-40 lb pack), play disc golf multiple times per week, play soccer once a week, lift weights 3-5 times per week including lower body of course, go on bike rides, stretch, do all my own yardwork/outdoor maintenance, oh and the backpack trips themselves help keep me in shape too..I am hoping that keeps me able to do keep doin 20+s for the foreseeable future.
    Appalachian Trail ‘16-
    Pinhoti Trail ‘17-‘20
    Benton MacKaye Trail ‘17-‘21
    Bartram Trail ‘22
    Foothills Trail ‘21
    Palmetto Trail ‘22-

  5. #5


    Since you already road walk 10 to 16 miles a week, and also go on backpacking trips, I would think you would already know if the weekly road walking prepares you for a backpacking trip.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Golden CO


    The only metric I can offer is this: Train to 1/3 of your goal. If you're physically able to walk 8 to 10 miles per day indefinitely, you're ready for the hike you plan. If you train for more than that, the risk of injury goes up.

    I did that hike, the CDT with plenty of consecutive 30-mile days, and I needed to train for it. I didn't have dependent children, but helping take care of elderly parents cut into that training time. I even had to put another activity I loved, road cycling, on hold to get the time to walk. But I walked everywhere I could, even when taking care of the parents. Family members said it was weird to see me in a car when I drove to my mother's funeral.

  7. #7
    Registered User LittleRock's Avatar
    Join Date
    Raleigh, NC


    My "training" regiment during the 50 weeks of the year when I'm not backpacking:
    - 4-5 evenings/week before bed:
    + 5-minute wall sit
    + 20 calf raises (raise up on toes, count to 10, lower slowly)
    + PF stretches 5x 10 seconds each leg
    + 2 minute "six inches" (lay flat on ground with feet raised 6" above the floor)
    - Upper body 2 mornings/week (usually Tues/Thurs before work):
    + 2 sets of 50 pushups
    + 2 sets of 80 situps
    + Variety of exercises with free weights (e.g. bicep curls, chest presses, butterflies, etc.)
    - Cardio 1 morning/week at gym (usually Wed before work):
    + 15 minutes stationary bike at highest tolerable resistance (warm up)
    + 15 minutes elliptical at highest tolerable resistance (max effort)
    + 15 minutes stationary bike at slightly lower resistance (cool down)
    - 8-10 mile day hike once/week (25-30 mile bike ride June-August when it's too hot)
    + Last 2 hikes before going on the AT are carrying a full 30 lb. pack.
    - 1.5 mile walk (30 minutes) mid-day break at work
    - Yard work, gardening, chores, home upkeep, playing with kids, etc on weekends
    Keeps me in good enough shape to start out doing 12-15 mi/day on the AT (8-10 mi/day in NH/ME).
    Last edited by LittleRock; 06-14-2024 at 13:52.

  8. #8
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Fines Creek, North Carolina


    When you have kids, you get just as much workout taking them backpacking. A full pack, plus a kid's stuff, plus sometimes a kid on your shoulders ...
    If you have several, you could have a regiment of kids, all with a hiking regimen.

  9. #9
    Some days, it's not worth chewing through the restraints.
    Join Date
    Central Vermont


    Quote Originally Posted by Odd Man Out View Post
    It's commonly said that the only way to train for a long distance hike is to take a long distance hike.
    Which is great if you have the time and places to go hiking before your hike. Most people don't. So you can either hit the trail for your dream hike with fresh-from-the-office chicken legs and pay the price, or you can get in the best shape possible before you go. I'll take the latter, works for me. YMMV, but as Sir Charles of Barkley says "I may be wrong, but I doubt it."

  10. #10
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Wytheville, Virginia


    I don't know a ton about the science around this sort of thing, but I try to stay in the habit of hopping on the treadmill with the incline as far up as it will go at 2.5-3 mph for 30 mins a few times each week. I also like to try to day hike with my backpack plus tenish pounds of gear when I can to prep. This seems to really help. Full disclosure, I have never been able to do big miles, but my 12-15's are enjoyable this way.

  11. #11
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Anderson, South Carolina


    I don't train for a hike. I let the trail train me.

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