The attractions of a long distance hike are numerous. The idea of spending several days or weeks on a trail away from the pressures of everyday life are naturally very attractive. However, for the majority of people, it does require more preparation than just strapping on a backpack, donning boots, and heading out.
Hiking may not be as physically demanding as running or cycling can be, but it will still require good stamina for a long distance walk. It is important to train to make sure you'll be able to complete the hike.
The Best Training for a Hike Is Hiking
There is no doubt that the best thing you can do in the months before heading out on a long distance hike is to go hiking regularly. The important thing is to hike regularly, whether it is going for a half hour walk before going to work every morning or taking a nice evening walk.
This doesn't need to be a huge burden, but regular exercise is essential to build up your stamina and to get your body used to walking daily. This generally does not have to be taxing or particularly strenuous. The walk can even be taking a nice long walk with your dog or the family. Regular walking will help build up your capacity for hiking.
For those who do choose to do the majority of their training in the gym, then the focus should be on cardiovascular exercise that will help to improve your fitness and lung capacity.
While being able to carry your pack is an important part of the hike, generally there is very little upper body work required unless you are planning to go rock climbing as well as hiking. Running and cycling are also useful activities that can help with general fitness, and this will all be beneficial once you get ready to set off.
Building up to the Trip
As you start to approach the start of your trip, it is usually best to start increasing the amount of training that you do. Try to include at least a few full days of hiking.
If you work the standard five day week, then putting together two days of walking back to back on the weekend can help your body to get used to the feeling of a multi-day hike. It will also give you confidence that you have the motivation to get up and walk every day.
Simulate Your Hiking Trip
When you are planning your training for a long distance hike, it is best to try and mimic some of the terrain and topography of your route in your training schedule. If you are going to be hiking into the high mountains, then it is best to include steep routes into your training where possible.
It is also essential to get used to walking with a full pack. If you are going to be carrying all your equipment on the trek, make sure you have walked for at least a few days wearing the backpack. This can help you to get used to walking with the pack and will also help to strengthen your muscles for the trip.
Look After Your Feet
The most important part of the body for any long distance hike is your feet. Make sure you look after them and wear the right footwear.
Some people will prefer the additional support of a high ankle boot, while others will find a trainer-type walking boot with lower sides to be more comfortable. Whichever option you choose for the trip, ensure that you take a few days before the trip to wear your boots in.
It is also worth taking a few pairs of spare socks. You may need a little bit of additional padding once you are on the trail. Wearing dry socks every morning is a much better start to the day than pulling on damp socks!