Long-distance hiking is an intense activity that requires a bit of training. Not only do you have to think about what to bring for the long hull but also how to prepare for the hike. Factors to consider include training physically, training mentally, knowing how to utilize the gear you bring, and training on a terrain similar to the one you expect to hike on. All these factors of a long-distance hike should be known in-and-out to ensure an enjoyable, safe, and fruitful hike with friends, family, or just by yourself.
1. Do Aerobic Exercises
Aerobic exercises are exercises that require the heart to pump oxygenated blood to the muscles, providing oxygen. This type of exercise also allows the heart rate and breathing to be sustainable for the whole duration of your workout.
Aerobic exercises are perfect for hiking due to the way in which they allow you to keep going for a substantial amount of time. Of course, you will get tired, eventually, no matter what workout style you do, but training in this way will keep you going strong through your whole hike. Examples of Aerobic types of exercises include dancing, hiking, walking, spinning, and kickboxing.
Another thing to try when training for the hike is to do shorter length hikes or walks on trails with the pack you may plan of taking with you. Depending on the weight of the pack, it can be heavy for you to handle and you may not realize just how hard it is to carry ten more pounds on your back for a long amount of time. To avoid this, try training with the pack on. Try to complete these types of workouts at least three times per week for about a month before your hike and your body should, after training for a while, be able to sustain you throughout the hike.
2. Train Yourself Mentally for the Long-Distance
Along with training physically, training mentally is also important for your upcoming journey. For the mental portion of the hike, it is important to remember that a long-distance hike is going to have tough personal obstacles to get through that can be a steep hill, sore feet, fatigue, hunger, or tiredness from simply walking so much. Any of these obstacles can make a person weary and not want to go a step further. To stop this from happening you need to mentally train yourself to take one small step at a time. If steep hills is a concern of yours, tell yourself to take it one step at a time and worry about getting through one hurdle rather than overwhelm yourself with all of the hurdles.
By training through breaking up the short-term goals from the long-term goals, it will enable you to power through, mentally, during your long-distance hike. It is easier said than doing so to actually practice this use this strategy when exercising. When you get to a move that is not your favorite, such as a burpee, tell yourself that you just need to get through this right now and worry about the rest later. Keep practicing and you will see the payoff in the end.
3. Resistance Training
Resistance training is another form of exercise any long-distance hiker should utilize. Resistance training is utilizing resistance to enact a muscular contraction that will build your muscular strength along with boosting your muscular endurance. Another important benefit of resistance training is the growth of skeletal muscles. Skeletal muscles connect to bones that move the mechanics of your body such as the arms and legs. Building these muscles are important for long-distance hiking due to the intensity of hiking on the body.
Resistance training does not have to be done with weights either so you do not have to stress about buying a gym membership to use weights or about purchasing expensive weights. Instead, you can simply bodyweight train. Bodyweight training only utilizes your own body weight during exercises to get all the same benefits from resistance training with weights. These types of exercises include push-ups, squats, lunges, crunches, pull-ups, and many more moves.
When hiking up hills, the walking itself, crouching, etc. all require major muscle strength. By utilizing your own weight or free weights to accomplish resistance training, hiking should not be too taxing on the muscles and allow for a more enjoyable journey.
4. Train On Similar Terrain
All hiking trails are different and getting to know the trail before you go for a long-distance hike is very important. For a short hike, you may not need to know the terrain because you do not plan on being on it for very long, but long-distance hiking, on the other hand, does require prior knowledge of the terrain. To do so it is important that you go and visit or scope out what the trail is going to be like.
It is best to actually perform short hikes on the same terrain to prep your body and mind for what is to come. Also if you plan on sleeping out on the trail, you may want to have a spot picked out before the journey or set goals for yourself on where you want to be at a certain time. It is always important to scope out where you are hiking as to not have any surprises along the way.
Another great reason for training on similar terrain is it will help you to pick out what you need to bring for the hike. All terrain is different and for some trails, you may need different items then you would use on a hike you had gone on before. For example, if the terrain seems to have rockier areas or hills you may want to bring or buy shoes that have a more serious tread on the bottom of the shoes. Training and learning all you can about the terrain before you actually complete the long-distance hike will set you up for success in the journey.
5. Practice Utilizing the Gear
Lastly, it is a good idea to practice utilizing the gear you plan on bringing. After scoping out the terrain you plan to hike on the equipment you take with you is something you should be familiar with. If, for example, you plan on taking a tent, before going on the hike try building the tent a few times, that way when it comes a time you will be a pro. If you did not try building the tent a few times, it could result in you taking longer than wanted and cause you to work in the dark which could be dangerous and cause unneeded stress. By getting to know all your pieces of equipment it should leave anyone feeling confident in knowing that their time schedule will go to planned and all will be well with the hike.
By utilizing all the tips given for a long-distance hike there should only be a success and happy memories after returning from the hike. Exercise daily by training both aerobically and with resistance training. Also, remember to mentally prepare yourself for the journey. Lastly, keep in mind to assess the terrain you plan to hike on and practice with the gear you plan on bringing. Altogether, this should end in a successful long-distance hike!