Training for a Big Hike

So you have a big hike lined up in a couple of weeks. You've done your research, you know how many miles you'll be hiking and you know how much elevation you'll be gaining that day.

But are you really ready? There's nothing worse than getting half-way through a big hike and feeling like a lame animal.
You can avoid that feeling by doing a little training beforehand.


Whether your long distance hike is 5 miles, 10 miles or an extreme day trek of 15+ miles, proper condition will make your hike a lot more enjoyable.
The best way to train for any sporting event is to train specifically for that event. In other words, if you want to hike a long distance trail, it's best to get out on a trail to simulate the conditions of the big day.

However, for many people, finding a trail to train on may not be convenient. Walking in your local neighborhood or a park is an excellent alternative. I've trained for a handful of hikes up 14,000-foot peaks in Colorado by walking in my neighborhood in Louisville, Kentucky.

With peaks slightly higher than your average ant hill here in Louisville, I obviously wasn't able to simulate the type of climbing I experienced in Colorado, but I was still able to sufficiently train my walking muscles.
Roughly six weeks prior to each of these hikes, create a training schedule that slowly increases your walking.
For a moderate 10ish mile trail, start training roughly 4 weeks before the actual hike. This assumes you already have a minimal amount of conditioning. If you have no conditioning, or a lot, then alter this schedule accordingly.
During the first two weeks of training you could probably get away with walking just three days a week. During the first week, two of those walks should be at least 2- to 3- miles long, and the third walk should be in the 4- to 5- mile range. During the second week, ratchet up your long walk day to around 6 or 7 miles.

On the other two days, walk at least 3 miles per day. If you're going to be climbing any significant elevation on your hike, try to include as many hills in your routine as possible.
During week 3, add a fourth day of walking into your schedule. Increase your long walk day, which should be 7 days from your big hike, to 8 or 9 miles.
In the final week before your hike, still walk on at least two or three days. Each of those walks should be about 4 to 6 miles. If you're already on vacation, use the days leading up to your big hike to train on some shorter trails. Make sure you're well rested.

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