I got a crazy idea on sleepless night, of traversing the most glamorous highway in the world; Manail-Leh highway. Of course by avoiding walking on the highway all the time and exploring wilderness around, throughout whole geographical region.
Before implementing the idea, I started preparing and gathering as much information as I could to train myself for fairly “easy” but romantic and adventurous journey.
So here it is… Practicing following points will help you improvise in your performance.
How will you train yourself for a long hike also called thru-hike…
If anyone knows how to train for a thru-hike, it’s Jennifer Pharr Davis. She hiked 12000 miles (19,312 kms) on six continents including PCT (Pacific Crest Trail) and Appalachian Trail. In 2011, she set the current AT speed record with a time of 46 days 11 hours and 20 mins.
“Most people spend too much time online researching gear and reading blogs, but not actually enough time training with their gear and preparing mentally,” She says. A good training regimen should prepare your body, your mind and your gear.
Prepare your body
Get Fit : There is no escaping the need for physical training. Start with Cardio routine and weight lifting. For every one day of Strength training, you should complete two days of cardio, giving yourself one or two days off per week. The goal is to get your body moving and comfortable being active.
Add weight: Once you feel comfortable and fit, it’s crucial to add weight to some of your cardio exercise. This simulates the 15-20 kilos pack you will be carrying on the trail. It’s a good idea to add your backpack it self 2 to 3 times per week.
Practice the Uphill: For the last step in physical training routine, you must add elevation gain. Get out of home and hike. If it’s absolutely impossible to get out of the city, practice climbing stairs of your home/office building (and not to forget the weigh pack/backpack)
Flexibility: Practicing Yoga to strengthen your core will help you stay away from awkward jerking positions on the trail. Having strong core and increased flexibility allows you to better deal with certain situations, making you less prone to injury.
Prepare your mind
Mental and emotional training is more important than physical training. Most thru-hikers or solo hikers get off trail but not for physical reasons. They are mentally unprepared for what a thru-hike really entails.
The wisdom of others. Watch documentaries and read books about the place you intend to visit. Get a better and more realistic view of the trail. Do thorough research. Learn about geographical conditions, regional stuff like language and culture, learn something about birds-plants-insects-animals so you can defend yourself. Remember, “Having the right knowledge can mean the difference between life and death” – Bear Grylls.
You can also tailor information by looking someone with a similar background and physical abilities to you. And don’t underestimate the power of contacting formar thru-hikers via phone-email. Many are happy to help mentor an aspiring hiker.
Try to spend anywhere from a weekend to a week on your target trail. If that isn’t possible, find a trail that simulates the terrain you’ll face on your thru-hike. Doing at least one or two such trips will help test and prepare your gear, test your physicality and strength, and put you in correct mindset for the hike.
When I do shakedown hikes I come up with little phrases that I know keep me motivated and moving forward. Use them to keep me sharp and strong when something is tough or it’s a hard day.
Prepare your gear
Yes you do need to do this at some point but don’t let it dominate your preparation. Check conditions of the trail and read reviews from others as well. Do proper research to create list of right gears, its pros and cons. Remember, Don’t just research online. Make sure you head out and speak with specialists or consult right people.