Monday, March 19, 2012

Getting in Shape for a Long Distance Hike

A year ago I grabbed a life list opportunity to hike the final 50 miles of the John Muir Trail and finish on the summit of Mt. Whitney.  The only problem was I wasn't in shape to backpack those miles at that altitude with a heavy pack.  So the first thing I did was buy the airplane ticket; I was committed. 

And did it take commitment to get up early and make the time to get in shape.  I only had 12 weeks, but I figured if I started small I could build up.  I started the day after I bought my ticket with Monday morning 1 mile run before work!  And added a mile every week.  I kept a log, and somehow I managed to find over an hour every day to train.

I trained by hiking with increasingly heavy packs.  I snowshoed with weights in my pack.  I cross trained.  Then when I wasn't losing weight I went back to the last diet that worked for me: the South Beach Diet.  And I trained the muscle specific groups I'd be using on the trip by finding the longest, steepest local mountains to climb. 

While the trip didn't quite turn out as planned, I did lose 17 lbs, immensely increased my stamina and strength, packed 50 miles, and summited Whitney.  And I felt great doing it! 

Now's the time to get started...and I suggest you look for some real inspiration.  Someone who has done something you wouldn't think possible.  Check out how Andrew Skurka--reknowned long distance hiker--suggests training for long distance hikes

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