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Thread: Zero Days

  1. #1
    Son Driven
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    Default Zero Days

    The 2013 GA-ME thru will be the first long hike of my 56 years. My plan is to take the trail one week at a time. I plan on making Sundays zero days, allowing my joints and muscle needed recovery time. Every Sunday I will look down the trail to what I believe is a reasonable amount of work to complete over the next six days, and where might be a nice place to spend my next Sunday. Please advise me of any strategies that you experienced hikers might want to share.

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    PCT, Sheltowee, Pinhoti, LT , BMT, AT, SHT, CDT 560 miles 10-K's Avatar
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    One strategy I have used is to hike 23.5 miles a day for 6 days taking the 7th day off to keep an average of 20 mpd.

    This is roughly how I hiked the last 800 miles of the AT. It's not something that can be done precisely (at least I couldn't) but the concept was to maintain a 20 mpd average.

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    I discovered in my training I am not ready for big miles yet. Got up to 14 miles, carrying 35 pounds, hiking across frozen boot prints, and caught a case of tendentious in my heels. Better now then on the trail. My heels are feeling pretty good now. The weather now being sub zero I plan on walking 8 hours a day at the Mall of America this week with out a pack. Next week I will add some pack weight. I will take it back out doors when the temps get above zero.

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    Registered User Papa D's Avatar
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    It's hard to be exacting on the trail in terms of exact miles and exact times - - often I get ahead of schedule and plans change - - also, I find "nero-days" more useful than full zero days - - for example, I wake and walk 4.5 miles into a town and arrive by 9:30am - I do laundry, eat lunch, sit on a bench and read, stretch out, shower at a hostel and spend the night, the next morning I leave. This day was really every bit as restful as a 0 miles day yet I got in about 1/3 of a day in mileage - - every three weeks this adds up to an extra day. I also think that where ever you happen to be at a certain time nearing a major trail town mid-week perhaps and the weather might lend itself to at least a nero day in that town vs just declaring that you don't want to walk any on Sunday. A rainy Thursday would be better spent at a hostel drinking coffee and reading than a sunny Sunday in the middle of nowhere.
    Of course, if you have some special reason that you want to take THAT particular day of the week off then by all means do so, HYOH.

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    Son Driven
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    Quote Originally Posted by Papa D View Post
    It's hard to be exacting on the trail in terms of exact miles and exact times - - often I get ahead of schedule and plans change - - also, I find "nero-days" more useful than full zero days - - for example, I wake and walk 4.5 miles into a town and arrive by 9:30am - I do laundry, eat lunch, sit on a bench and read, stretch out, shower at a hostel and spend the night, the next morning I leave. This day was really every bit as restful as a 0 miles day yet I got in about 1/3 of a day in mileage - - every three weeks this adds up to an extra day. I also think that where ever you happen to be at a certain time nearing a major trail town mid-week perhaps and the weather might lend itself to at least a nero day in that town vs just declaring that you don't want to walk any on Sunday. A rainy Thursday would be better spent at a hostel drinking coffee and reading than a sunny Sunday in the middle of nowhere.
    Of course, if you have some special reason that you want to take THAT particular day of the week off then by all means do so, HYOH.
    I like your Nero day concept, as far as weather goes, I am ok in the rain, and in the cold as long as I have the right protective wear. For me Sunday is good, I have decided I will bring my smart phone along, but only use it on Sunday to listen to my Pastors sermon, and catch up with friends and family. Other wise it stays off the rest of the week. I could modify, and limit my phone use to Nero or zero days be it a Saturday, Sunday, or Monday.

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    Agree with Papa D. I suggest instead of thinking of the trail in sections of 7 days think of it as sections between food resupplies. Also take it easy for the first few weeks and hike a comfortable pace, maybe even holding back a little.
    And take lots of pictures!

    Have fun, stay safe and enjoy you're hike!
    "Chainsaw" GA-ME 2011

  7. #7

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    Well, if you've not done a lot of hiking you may find that you need more recovery time. Strength comes not from more and more miles, rather from good recovery. So don't get too dedicated to your current plan, play it by ear. And if you find yourself getting weaker, it may be either an indication of illness or lack of rest.



    Rest Easy

    Recovery is an important--but often neglected--part of training plans.After running 3:34 in the 2000 Chicago Marathon, Mike Crooks set his sights on qualifying for Boston.

    Then 35, Crooks needed to take 19 minutes off his time. So the Sun Prairie, Wisconsin, attorney ramped up his training by adding speedwork and hill repeats, doing more long runs at a faster clip, and sometimes skipping rest days. Yet each year his marathon pace got slower. After running a disappointing 4:01 in Chicago in 2003, Crooks hired a personal trainer, hoping he would unlock the secret behind his sputtering performances. The diagnosis? Inadequate recovery.

    Like Crooks, most runners don't have a problem pushing themselves. But when you're focused on building endurance and speed, it's easy to forget how important rest is.

    "It's when you're not running that the muscle rebuilds itself and becomes stronger," says Bryan Heiderscheit, Ph.D., P.T., who heads the University of Wisconsin Medical School's Runner's Clinic. "If recovery is insufficient, you'll break down more than you build up." Recovery is vital whether you want to run the race of your life or just get to the starting line. Here's how to make the most of your down time.

    Ease Up


    If you stop seeing positive gains or your legs feel sluggish or especially sore, you're overdoing it. "Don't wait for aches or pains to take a recovery day," Heiderscheit says.

    "That's a sign of overtraining." Take at least one rest day per week and additional days as needed. Check your pulse for 60 seconds before getting out of bed. If it's 20 percent higher than normal, you're due for a rest day.

    If you're training for a marathon, your long-run pace should be one to two minutes slower than race pace, says Heiderscheit. Alternate hard efforts (speedwork, hill repeats, long runs) with easy ones: three- to four-mile easy-pace recovery runs, cross-training, or complete rest. Make your rest days count for more than just a day off by doing something you enjoy that you don't have time for while training. A movie or a dinner out serves as more than a reward, because relaxation helps you heal. A study published in Psychosomatic Medicine found that a distraction can lower stress levels and raise levels of cytokines, which are hormones that help tissue regenerate........ Read more here: http://www.runnersworld.com/health/rest-easy-0

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    having taken 60 plus zero days on my GA to ME hike, I consider myself an expert. The nero day is a great concept and works well. many of my town stops were nero days. My first zero day was 17 days into my hike and I took it bryson city, hitched from NOC. I think trying to plan a zero every sunday will be difficult, but give it a try. If you use Maildrops or bounce box, Post office is not open on Sundays. I took a 8 zero days just to go back to trail days and then travel back to my point on the trail. If you have the time, a zero is great day.

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    Agree with PapaD, I would suggest flexibility. You will have to learn what works for you and this you won't know until you get on the trail. I also found complete zeros were not generally helpful. I fell into a strategy of doing 2/3rds day, finishing early to mid afternoon going into towns. This allowed me two good meals, a chance for the PO to be open if I was getting packages there plus time to shower, do laundry and sleep in a real bed. This allowed me to leave town the next day, clean, rested and with a full belly.

    Finally, just like in the military, a plan is only good until the first shot is fired (or mile hiked)

  10. #10

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    If you take every Sunday off, you'll be doing a lot of them in the woods. Which isn't a bad thing, but isn't very productive. You'll have to carry that extra day of food which doesn't get you any where and town stops will have to be nero's since they will largely occur between your regularly scheduled zero's. But doing that could save you money by not having many overnights in town.

    You can try the 6 on 1 off schedule, but I have a feeling it will be abandoned pretty quickly.
    Follow slogoen on Instagram.

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    Being 56 years old it's important to rest your body every 5-7 days. This is true, especialy the first 5 to 6 weeks on the trail. It will take you that long to get into trail shape.
    after that time you can probably go longer between days of rest. As you move up the trail you can space your "O" days more by your town needs.
    I thru-hiked at age 66 years old and "O" when ever I felt the need to rest my body. It worked for me. One problem you may have if you are hiking with a younger groop is that they might not want to take Os when you do, so be prepaired to "hike your own hike."
    Grampie-N->2001

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    Maybe the term ZERO days is misleading. You might not be doing any trail miles but you won't be exactly laying around either.

    You will be amazed at how many chores you need to accomplish while not hiking.

    And you will still be walking. Walking to the grocery store, walking to the Post Office, walking to the outfitters, walking to the laundry mat maybe even walking to church.

    Is that they way you plan to spend your Sabbaths?
    The trouble I have with campfires are the folks that carry a bottle in one hand and a Bible in the other.
    You never know which one is talking.

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    Nalgene Ninja flemdawg1's Avatar
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    Brother I commend you on taking the Lord's Day seriously. Christians like you are an endangered species in our open 7-days/week world. Its pretty simple taking a zero in the woods. Carry an extra day of food, and wherever you stop Saturday(shelter or campsite) that's where you'll restart Monday. Just be aware that afew places have rules against staying consecutive nights in shelters, or campsites (i.e. GSMNP you can't stay more than one night at any shelter).

    Neros into town are pretty common. And if you find yourself in town on a Sunday (or even Saturday) don't be afraid to visit a church. Many of them hold hikers breakfasts (First Baptist Franklin, NC). You're on an adventure so why not try taking some different flavors of Christianity. Go to a Black Gospel church, a Pentecostal Holiness, etc. We're all part of the Body and there's no wrong way to praise God. Wash a snake, handle some feet (or vice-versa). Use that smart phone map feature to find a church when you cross the road. In the South you're never far from one. Also those mountain are one the best churches around too (there is a reason they're called "Mountain top experiences").

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    Registered User evyck da fleet's Avatar
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    I think its a good idea to plan to average a zero a week if that's what you feel you need. I'm guessing that would be around average for most hikers. I found I took my zeros because 1) I felt myself dragging and needed a recovery day, 2) I had decided to get into town before a storm and take a zero while it rained all day and 3) unplanned days because I either a) decided to go into DC or get a shuttle to go to Trail Days or b) needed one because of sickness/injury or to prevent blisters when my feet had hot spots from hiking in consecutive days of rain.

  15. #15

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    The trail doesn't yield easily to a schedule.

  16. #16
    Some days, it's not worth chewing through the restraints.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Son Driven View Post
    Every Sunday I will look down the trail to what I believe is a reasonable amount of work to complete over the next six days.
    Lots of good comments already posted, so here's a philosophical question: are the next six days going to be work, or fun? Attitude makes all the difference on a long hike.

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    I hiked with a gentleman in 2010 whose Trail name is Sabbath Keeper. He zeroed wherever he happened to be for his Sabbath. Still kept up with me.

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    Quote Originally Posted by flemdawg1 View Post
    You're on an adventure so why not try taking some different flavors of Christianity. Go to a Black Gospel church, a Pentecostal Holiness, etc. We're all part of the Body and there's no wrong way to praise God.
    +1 on that. Every Christian should be exposed to other Christians who act in ways that might make them nervous. In Maine we are afraid to let our emotions show in church. We act "dignified". When in Virginia I sought out an all black Pentecostal church. After 2 hours of singing they wore me down. They love God and are not afraid to show it. The effects wore off quickly. Back in the north we whisper about God's greatness, because we are afraid someone might hear.

    I am sorry if my reply offends. I don't believe SD meant this to be a thread on Christianity. I believe he meant to have it be on zero days and leave his intent inferred at best. Please forgive my expanding on those thoughts.
    In the end, it's not the years in your life that count. It's the life in your years. - Abraham Lincoln

  19. #19
    Son Driven
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    Both, My father was a butcher who punched a clock every day for 45 years. Came home and watched whatever was playing. Baseball, football, basket ball, hockey, or whatever. My plan is to wake up without regarding the hour. Make a pot of oat meal, or grits, and some coffee. Share it with whoever is around, and then put in a fair day's worth of hiking, make camp, prepare a meal, share it with whoever is around, meet some new friends, who can perhaps teach me a few tricks about hiking and living out doors. So I want to take the work ethic I learned from my father onto the trail, and the hospitality I learned from my mother.

  20. #20
    Son Driven
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    Quote Originally Posted by flemdawg1 View Post
    Brother I commend you on taking the Lord's Day seriously. Christians like you are an endangered species in our open 7-days/week world. Its pretty simple taking a zero in the woods. Carry an extra day of food, and wherever you stop Saturday(shelter or campsite) that's where you'll restart Monday. Just be aware that afew places have rules against staying consecutive nights in shelters, or campsites (i.e. GSMNP you can't stay more than one night at any shelter).

    Neros into town are pretty common. And if you find yourself in town on a Sunday (or even Saturday) don't be afraid to visit a church. Many of them hold hikers breakfasts (First Baptist Franklin, NC). You're on an adventure so why not try taking some different flavors of Christianity. Go to a Black Gospel church, a Pentecostal Holiness, etc. We're all part of the Body and there's no wrong way to praise God. Wash a snake, handle some feet (or vice-versa). Use that smart phone map feature to find a church when you cross the road. In the South you're never far from one. Also those mountain are one the best churches around too (there is a reason they're called "Mountain top experiences").
    Yes, I have had good experiences in my past experiencing different fellowships. When I can work it out to arrive in a town on a Saturday, I will get a room, or hostel bed, and plan on attending a local place of fellowship. If not I will fellowship with The Lord in the woods, and invite anyone around me to join if they like.

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