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  1. #1
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    Default How are you training for your thru-hike?

    I'm curious, how people are preparing for next year? Have you started? What are you doing?

    I plan on a two-week hike this fall. In the meantime I'm walking as much as I can and am trying to lose 30 lbs before next spring.

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  3. #3

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    Nothing beats training for backpacking than actually backpacking, preferably with the same gear you will use on your thru. I would put a high priority on losing that weight, while still maintaining a workout routine with weightlifting to avoid muscle mass loss.

  4. #4

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    I've found that doing some trail running events really helps my backpacking. Things that improve include foot placement skill, ankle strength, leg strength, and lung capacity. However, it doesn't work the other way, my running sucks after a long backpacking trip.

  5. #5
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    Stopped at Dunkin after walking to the library today.


    But now I’m only a LASHER.
    76 HawkMtn w/Rangers
    13 HF>CramptonsG
    14 LHHT
    15 Girard/Quebec/LostTurkey/Saylor/Tuscarora/BlackForest
    16 Kennerdell/Cranberry-Otter/DollyS/WRim-NCT
    17 BearR
    18-19 AT NOBO 1540.5

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by RangerZ View Post
    Stopped at Dunkin after walking to the library today.

    But now I’m only a LASHER.

    Did seven miles today with a day pack. Day pack because I finally got around to cleaning my backpack and it’s drying.

    I did support the local little league by buying a soda from the ballfield concession stand.

    Went to REI for some supplies.
    76 HawkMtn w/Rangers
    13 HF>CramptonsG
    14 LHHT
    15 Girard/Quebec/LostTurkey/Saylor/Tuscarora/BlackForest
    16 Kennerdell/Cranberry-Otter/DollyS/WRim-NCT
    17 BearR
    18-19 AT NOBO 1540.5

  7. #7
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    That REI video looks super helpful, thanks for posting!

    I hope to tackle the PCT in 2021, and maybe a shorter thru-hike (Tahoe Rim? Wonderland? etc.) in 2020. My main "training" for these far-off goals involves just trying to keep my knees pain-free and trying to maintain my post AT-thru-hike body weight. I've taken up trail running and I've done 2 5ks, with my first 5 mile trail run coming up next month. I live in the Whites now, so I've been hiking a lot too. Contrary to the popular wisdom that the only training you need for backpacking is backpacking, I've found that as soon as I neglect regular PT exercises and regular yoga/stretching in favor of only hiking, my knee pain returns. If I learned anything from the AT about my conditioning, it's that I need to set aside the time for those things, even as a super fit thru-hiker, because otherwise my knees slowly fall apart.
    A.T. 2018 Thru-hike Hopeful
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  8. #8
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    Training regimen:
    1. Start walking with 20 lbs on a cross country course (ups and downs). When you can do 3 miles or so and no longer notice the weight, go to step 2.
    2. Increase weight to 45 lbs.on a cross country course (ups and downs). When you can do 5 miles or so and no longer notice the weight you are fit enough to hike 8-10 miles. Make SURE your back weight is less than 35 -32 lbs. 32 lbs is BETTER.

    If you manage water ( 3 liters max) you can manage weight. I cary 1.5 L in a camelback. I carry 1 L in a light filter/bag arrangement. I resupply often from the 1 liter bag arrangement. When that runs out, I am sucking off the 1.5 L camelback (total 3L capacity). I then start looking for a water resupply. Water is heavy. Manage it and you will save weight.

    Following my instructions, hiking should be easypeasy 8-15 miles..

    BTW Get a cardio workout in there. I swim. You will be huffing and puffing and cardio training will help.

  9. #9
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    I own a sheep farm, so for training, I wear my pack with all my gear plus some water bottles to bring it up to ~40lbs and I go take care of morning and evening feeding chores. Plus, every day after my day job, I spend a few hours walking the perimeter of my pasture in full gear to get used to poles, uneven terrain, etc.

    Between farm work and the day job though, it's pretty challenging to find time to do any other training.
    "I should go."
    -Commander Shepard

  10. #10

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    I'm not ever going to thru hike,just the occasional 2 or 3 night pleasure trips with friends.I purchased and use a vertical climber to try and keep my fitness level on par with my much younger hiking partners who also carry much lighter loads.

    It surprised me how much the climber,which is such a low impact exercise,has improved my overall fitness and it exercises muscle groups that I don't think I could target without it.

  11. #11
    Registered User ldsailor's Avatar
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    A lot of walking - at least three miles per day. A couple of days a week, I go to the VA and use their "Wellness Clinic," which has many exercise machines. That's when I do one hour at a 10 degree incline on a treadmill and some other strength building machines. By next spring, I'll be at or close to a 15 degree incline on the treadmill. It's hard (actually impossible) in Florida to train for mountain hiking the AT has, but I try. I also focus on strengthening my knees and ankles and do a lot of stretching - especially the calves and hamstrings. I strained a hamstring this year in Maine and had to leave the trail, so I don't want that happening again.
    Trail Name - Slapshot
    "One step at a time."
    Blog - www.tonysadventure.com

  12. #12

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    I'm currently overweight, so I'm doing keto, and working out 2 times per day. I should hit my target weight by December I'll quit my job at the end of the year and start doing some multi-week long hikes in AZ for training and shakedown purposes.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by bbikebbs View Post
    Just found this from REI today:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DLgbHiDntH0&list=PLYftYAr1P51g0Fkx7WP3Yofy YsLBfjTiH&index=19&t=0s


    Anyone have any thoughts/comments?

    Scott
    This video helped me a lot. I've always had bad knees, but this video helped me begin to understand that my hips were a big part of the challenge of hiking. My daily life involves mostly sitting and walking around on level ground. There are some big gains to be made with hip exercises.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by SkeeterPee View Post
    I'm curious, how people are preparing for next year? Have you started? What are you doing?

    I plan on a two-week hike this fall. In the meantime I'm walking as much as I can and am trying to lose 30 lbs before next spring.


    Skeeter

    I see you are almost an old guy like me. Given that our bodies do not react to stress like they did 40+ years ago I have some suggestions. I have some experience as an older hiker with about 30,000 miles in now and a good 12,000 since I was your age.

    Do not try and get in shape the way you did even when you were 40, let alone 20. It is an excellent way to get injured. Getting started now is an excellent idea.

    Someone mentioned getting your gear sorted as soon as possible. This is good advise. Shoes are VERY important and don't necessarily get wrapped around the axle on what the current fad is. You need to find out what works best for you. Same with socks. And packs. Etc. Though being as light as reasonable is best for comfort and preventing injury.

    In light of the last statement you need to get walking. Pick a candidate shoe for your hike and start slowly breaking yourself into the shoe. If you already hike 5 miles a day then on the first day hike half in the new shoe and switch back to your old ones. Work your way up to a full hike in the new shoes. This prevents injury and allows you to learn about your body and if the shoe is suitable for you. There is no perfect shoe.

    Hike/walk every day. But don't over do the mileage. But do let it build over time. Eventually start carrying your pack lightly loaded and work your way up to a full pack. Are your shoes still working right for you?? If not then you need to try another shoe. By starting this now you have time to work through a couple of pairs of shoes to get it right. And it also builds that base you need to prevent injury out on the Trail. Your ligaments and tendons adapt over time - especially if you are older. Your bone density changes as well. Give all this time to happen. Stretching should not be considered optional. It really helps you.

    Start working on what you like to eat while hiking and experiment with that, and cooking or not cooking as you may choose (I don't carry a stove myself). Have that mostly worked out before you start as well. How you eat at home will not work properly for daily hiking's as your body's needs are different. How many miles per day you do on your hike changes how and what you want to eat and the more you work to figure that out beforehand the better - but you can also wing it if that is your preference.

    Remember that the more you have hiked before you start a thru the more likely it will be enjoyable, injury free and successful.

    Be adaptable and listen to your own body more than other's advise.

    To give you an example this is what I do in general. It is only an example.
    As I train up for a long hike I build my daily mileage up to close to what I expect to do on the specific trail. Not everyone does this as many do not have time or inclination. But think about what I said above. I build slowly from my non-training base (which is about 30-35 miles per week) which is my normal all year around. Say I was going to start the PCT in early May. Several months before that I would start a build up to about 100 miles a week with a full pack. I would start by increasing my non-pack hiking to about 50 per week while doing 2-3000 ft of climbing a day (I live in the mountains so this is easy for me- ymmv). Then I add in the pack for segments of the week at a light weight. Then heavier on the pack and more miles with the pack. In 3 months with this progression I go from the base of 35 with no pack to the 100 with a full pack. This is definitely an anal approach but it works. Note that my weekly mileage is on the order of 140 miles at the start of a hike so the numbers you see above are for that. If you plan on doing say 70 then your training needs would be based upon what you are planning on doing. On trail doing a thru I have never had blisters or a stress injury like shin splints, plantar fasciitis, or stress fractures which are very common if one is not really trained and in shape. Just an example and take it for what it might be worth to you.

    As to losing weight I would not focus on that too much. If you train up so you are ready to hike and then just take off on your thru the weight thing tends to take care of itself. Many of the most accomplished thru hikers carry a bit of softness around the middle when they get started and just burn it off over the miles. If you can comfortably do your initial daily goal of miles then do not worry about your weight.

    On your two week hike be careful not to try and do too much mileage as you could either hurt yourself or if you make that hike unpleasant by overdoing it you might get sour on the whole idea. Ease into the whole thing. Best of luck.

  15. #15
    Registered User Hoofit's Avatar
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    Excellent advice about the importance of the right shoes , particularly for us older folks.
    I returned to the trail last September, perfect time to finish up as I had hiked as far as Gorham,NH.
    My HUGE mistake was changing to 'Lone Peak ' shoes from my regular Keen Targhee . I picked them due mainly to the fact that they have breather holes to let water out ( A virtue I figured through the 100 mile wilderness).
    The only testing I had done was flat land in Florida with thirty pound pack, right from Day One, just a few weeks before in August.
    Well they have'zero drop', totally different to the Keens with more arch support.
    To cut a long story short, I tore up some tendons so badly that I had to come off the trail two days later, near the Carter Notch Hut.
    I am still in recovery mode , out about a thousand dollars and unable to return this year.
    Huge letdown!
    My fault, should have been much more careful about switching to a totally different style of shoe.
    When I return, It's back to the slightly heavier, more supportive Keene for me.
    As I am in my mid sixties, I will now make more gradual changes and hopefully do better next time., especially with a return to the Wildcats first on the list after Florida flat land preparations.

  16. #16
    Registered User Spotter's Avatar
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    I have done over 300 miles on the AT this year. Had to have knee surgery so now I'm recovering from that, but finally was allowed to get out last weekend to hike again so I did a 10 mile backpacking trip to ease back into it. I plan to get in the gym soon and strengthen my muscles that support the knee and do a lot of stair climbers.
    Next year I have a section planned on the AT again to get me back into the swing of it before I begin my SOBO.

  17. #17

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    Quote Originally Posted by Hoofit View Post
    Excellent advice about the importance of the right shoes , particularly for us older folks.
    I returned to the trail last September, perfect time to finish up as I had hiked as far as Gorham,NH.
    My HUGE mistake was changing to 'Lone Peak ' shoes from my regular Keen Targhee . I picked them due mainly to the fact that they have breather holes to let water out ( A virtue I figured through the 100 mile wilderness).
    The only testing I had done was flat land in Florida with thirty pound pack, right from Day One, just a few weeks before in August.
    Well they have'zero drop', totally different to the Keens with more arch support.
    To cut a long story short, I tore up some tendons so badly that I had to come off the trail two days later, near the Carter Notch Hut.
    I am still in recovery mode , out about a thousand dollars and unable to return this year.
    Huge letdown!
    My fault, should have been much more careful about switching to a totally different style of shoe.
    When I return, It's back to the slightly heavier, more supportive Keene for me.
    As I am in my mid sixties, I will now make more gradual changes and hopefully do better next time., especially with a return to the Wildcats first on the list after Florida flat land preparations.
    Wow - I can't imagine how disappointing that was. But thank you for sharing as it is a great example for us.

  18. #18
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    My preparating is training for the ironman that happens a week before my AT start date, mixing in some stair master while wearing my pack.

  19. #19

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    Great advice. Thank you for sharing.

  20. #20
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    Dial in your gear by camping in your back yard once a week. Say every Thursday night no matter what the weather.

    Walk out the back door with your full pack. Unload and set up camp, cook dinner, sleep. Wake up, eat breakfast, load up all your gear, walk back inside.

    You might choose to skip digging catholes all over your back yard, particularly if the neighbors can see.

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