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Date: Sat, Jan 9th, 2010
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Pacific Crest Trail Map
Ah, New Years resolutions! I guess it's time to get serious about the physical preparations so our bodies will survive the long (20 mile) days on the trail. Nothing new in this entry for the experienced distance hiker, but this is a question that we are often asked by friends.
Probably the best way to prepare to hike is to hike--put on the pack with the weight you intend to carry, put on the shoes you intend to wear, and walk a bunch of miles. The more miles hiked, the better.
As older athletes, we've found this simple formula a bit more complex. We walk a fine line (no pun intended?) between training enough and getting injured. Our bodies still adapt to the stress of training, but seem to adapt at a slower rate. Aging has brought its share of chronic aches and pains. In my 20s and 30s, I thought that I'd be done with all this exercise stuff, probably by my 40's. Amazingly, the body feels better when I get some exercise than when I vegetate. And when I compare my functional level to that of less active friends, it looks like exercise has helped maintain the older body. I no longer believe that exercise alone is the cause of degenerative joint disease; too many people in our age bracket are getting joint replacements who have not led active lifestyles.
OK, enough generalities. What are we currently doing to get ready? We're both walking, some with a pack. Larry is averaging 40-50miles/week right now, but is having some calf muscle problems. I'm recovering from plantar fasciitis. I'm walking 15-20 miles/week, some with the pack; weight training regularly, and doing some low-impact aerobic stuff on machines. I'm hoping as I get rid of some responsibilties at work and the days get longer, I can get in more training. The pack we're carrying right now is about 20 pounds; we'll up that weight to 30 pounds before the hike. We'll probably get in a few weekend backpack trips before April (winter hiking in the southwest is wonderful!). We're fortunate the the Arizona Trail and many other possibilities are just out our doorstep.
Elderly Ellen and YeahBut
'The miracle isn't that I finished, the miracle is that I had the courage to start.' John (the Penguin) Bingham