To Train or Not to Train

There are now less than 6 weeks left until I head out on my Pacific Crest Trail adventure. It’s a very exciting time, but it’s also around the time that I’m starting to stress about all of the little things I have to do before I leave. I did all of my major planning months ago, and I’ve been procrastinating on finishing up all of the little things (which have added up to quite a long to-do list!). But, one thing that I have been consistently doing in preparation for this hike is training.

Every thru-hiker has their own take on training, and strategies range from not training at all, to religiously hitting the gym. While the former may not be the smartest strategy, the latter may not be entirely necessary either. Relying on “on-the-job” training during a thru-hike might be feasible for many people, but the person whose training begins at the trailhead will likely be moving much more slowly and in a lot more pain than the person who spent months getting physically prepared. It is probably impossible to fully prepare your body for something as intense as a thru-hike. The only thing that can do that is, well, doing a thru-hike. A couple of months into the hike, someone who didn’t train may be in just as good of shape as someone who did, but there’s a good chance the person who trained saved themselves from a world of pain in the first few weeks.

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All loaded up for a training hike!

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Hiking: your one-stop-shop for health and wellness!

We all know that regular exercise is important to our health, and has the ability to lengthen and improve our lives… and we all know that hiking is a form of exercise! However, you may not be aware of just how large a wealth of benefits hiking has to offer.

First off, hiking is a great form of cardiovascular exercise, and is excellent for weight control. When I hike, my heart rate remains elevated in the fat burning zone pretty much the entire time (as opposed to running, where my heart rate will reach cardio and peak levels). Hiking also burns some serious calories. In fact, hiking uphill can burn a similar amount of calories as going for a jog. For me, a ten mile (mostly flat) hike was able to burn the same amount of calories as running a half marathon. Running is able to burn calories faster, but hiking tends to be much easier on your joints.

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