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Pre-Hike Training - Part I

Discussion area for all topics concerning the the Pacific Crest Trail. This is a pleasant and friendly place where the 'hike your own hike' philosophy is encouraged.

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Pre-Hike Training - Part I

Postby stillroaming » Fri Oct 03, 2008 12:23 pm

The first thing I'd like to address is the bad advice that you can "get into shape on the trail". Can you? Sure. It just takes much longer and I assure you, more painful.

Let me use an example. "Lifting weights creates muscle." That is incorrect. Lifting weights damages the muscle tissue. Resting for days after the muscle then heals, creating more muscle tissue in the process. So muscle growth is a product of resting not lifting weights. Not resting a muscle group for a long enough period is one of the major mistakes of beginning weight lifters.

With that in mind, how will you have time to heal if you are walking 20 miles a day? You'll heal, by unwillingly reducing your mileage due to the discomfort you have incurred. This not only affects your body, but your state of mind and thus, your enjoyment level of your hike.

Besides the obvious benefit of conditioning your body before the event takes place, so many other good reasons exist to train beforehand. It gives you undistracted time to think about your hike, your planning specifically. If you train alone, you'll be able to condition yourself to those many hours on the trail you may be hiking alone. Alone time won't be such a shock when you hit the trail, more of an old friend with sufficient training.

One of the most important aspects is you can teach yourself to walk correctly. As a human, you've been walking for quite some time now. Try to think about walking in terms of efficiency. How you place your feet on the ground. Are your feet parallel to each other when walking? Do you pronate (ankles lean in) or supinate (ankles lean out)? Is your stride natural and relaxed? Do you favor one leg or the other? Does one part of your body seem overly stressed after walking some distance?

Make a conscious effort to observe these types of patterns in your walking. Correct what you can before you start carrying any real weight.

Training will also you help build calluses on your feet. While the idea of calluses may sound appalling, I cannot convey to how important they are on the trail. In my opinion, given proper footwear, they are the single biggest hedge against developing blisters early on in your hike. Training will encourage the growth of these golden little gems.

I'm not a health professional, just someone who knows first hand the night and day difference it makes the first day you hit the trail when you've invested a sufficient amount of time into your training.

In the end you have to do what is right for you. Training beforehand is something you will not regret.

Part II: Feet
Part III: Where to Train

Last edited by stillroaming on Sun Nov 30, 2008 2:48 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Joined: Mon Apr 17, 2006 11:44 am
Location: Crescent City, California USA

Postby hikerguy75 » Sun Nov 30, 2008 2:25 pm

Thank you very much for your post. I will be training ahead of time for sure. What you say is so true. When you first start hiking around a lot you will get blisters. These will definitely slow you down even with extra socks and moleskin. If you develop calluses you have a much better chance of avoiding blisters or at least can hike longer before you get them. If you haven't hiked a lot in a long time you are almost guaranteed to get some blisters. Training ahead of time is a definite must.

Of course you can do whatever you want. I will definitely be doing some training ahead of time.
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