Preparing for a long-distance hike is a grueling mess of route mapping, supply gathering, and figuring out emergency plans.
Amidst all of this many people forget that you have to prep your body for the excursion too. Follow these tips to adjust from short jaunts through the woods to weeks-long adventures in the wilderness.
Unless you’re willing to lug a water heater along on the trail, you’re likely going to be lacking opportunities for a warm shower. You will, however, need to keep yourself fairly clean on your hike. That’s why it’s important to get used to cold water. Begin each day with a shower that ends in frigid temps. Not only will this help your body acclimate to the cold baths on the trail but it’s also proven to help wake you up more efficiently and has long-lasting health benefits.
Skip the Burgers
Healthy eating is essential to living a long life as well as sustaining yourself during a long hike. Your body needs the proper nutrients to refuel and you won’t find them in a McDonald’s cheeseburger. Start overhauling your meals months in advance so your body is in top shape during your trip.
Cut back on the calories if you’re not counting them already to help stave off the hunger you’ll feel on the trail. Your meals on the hike will likely be smaller in portion due to weight limits, so try eating smaller ones throughout the day rather than three large ones we are accustomed to these days.
Focus on Cardio
As a rule of thumb, when planning a thru-hike you should switch up your gym routine to two days of cardio for every one day of weight training. While you need to hone your strength, your endurance is what will serve you most on the trail. Be sure to include jogging, running and walks in your training regimen. When running, try adding extra weight to your body to create similar resistance to what you might feel from your pack.
There are a very few long-distance hikes that don’t contain a mountain or two to make your way through. Many of them are almost entirely up and downhill. Practice this by hiking uphill in the months leading up to your hike. Your body needs to be able to quickly adjust to changes in elevation.
Take Up Yoga
Few things in life will make your body more limber than practicing yoga on a consistent basis. Sign yourself up for classes at the local gym. Your body will be in better shape for the hike but more importantly, so will your mind. You’ll spend a lot of time with your own thoughts out on the trail and yoga and meditation are effective ways to keep them from straying into dangerous territory. A consistent mind/body routine will boost your overall wellbeing on the trail.
Break in Your Boots
The condition of your feet can make or break your hike. It’s important to break in your hiking boots before embarking on a long-distance hike, lest blisters and sores cut your trip short. Be sure to spend a couple of months hiking shorter distances in them so they’re comfortable and ready for when you go. Your feet and toes should be accustomed to them before you hit the trail, not halfway through.