Miles of scenic hiking trail crisscross the United States of America, and go unappreciated by all but a select few. For those who choose to venture out, through-hiking is an eye-opening way to experience these beautiful places, but it requires some physical fortitude.
Covering the long stretches of trail required to complete a through-hike in reasonable time will challenge your strength, endurance and willpower. So, before you undertake a major hike, make sure you’re up to the challenge. You don’t have to live next to a mountain trail. Instead, you can use any of these fun and different methods to get ready.
Build Your Cardio
Cardiovascular health is of peak importance when through-hiking. In some situations, you’ll be hiking at altitude, and your body will need to be well-prepared to power through long hikes efficiently.
Look for a place where you can get comfortable doing strenuous uphill stints. For example, run the stairs at an office building, or visit a local stadium a couple of times a week to train on the steps. Swimming and cycling are other good examples of ways to build up cardiovascular health.
For every two days of cardio training you perform, you should get a solid day of strength training in using weight resistance. When you train, focus on intensity and form over duration.
There are many new and inventive ways to weight train — for example, CrossFit, which is based around calisthenics, has become popular lately. Another way to change things up and use resistance to your advantage is using weights in water. You will find a wide array of dedicated aquatic weight-training equipment available, and the different environment provides some excellent benefits.
Use Yoga to Strengthen Your Core and Mental Toughness
People have practiced yoga for thousands of years. It’s a win-win exercise for hikers because it will add to the core training you’ll get from cardio and strength training, while helping you stay limber at the same time. It also helps you build mental toughness. After a few days on the trail, your thoughts might wander, particularly if you’re alone. Yoga can help you remain mindful.
You can’t be certain what types of situations you’ll encounter on the trail, and it’s likely at some point you’ll need to perform an awkward maneuver or contort yourself to get around an unexpected obstacle. Yoga helps prepare your body for this type of thing, so you can come away intact and feeling ready to complete your journey.
Know Your Gear
If you’ve done this before, you’re probably familiar with the pack and equipment you’ll be using. However, for first-timers, it’s important to practice loading and unloading your pack a few times. You’ll come away understanding how your equipment will sit, and how to distribute weight for a comfortable hike.
Most of all, have a sense of purpose. Know why you’re doing the hike, and get excited about it. Spending time on the trail is one of the best ways to get to know yourself and others, so look forward to an amazing adventure confident that you’re ready to tackle it.
Scott Huntington is a writer from central Pennsylvania. He enjoys working on his home and garden with his wife and 2 kids. Follow him on Twitter @SMHuntington