Thursday, January 08, 2015

Are You Ready to Hike?

With winter here, how do you get ready physically for the demands of an extended backpacking trip? Normally post holiday there are plenty of ads about losing weight and getting in shape. The goal of an upcoming spring/ summer backpacking trip is a good incentive to start the process.

Here are a few tips I’ve used to begin the process and get oneself ready for that next adventure.

Set a Goal

More than anything, a backpacking trip is a mental venture. You can do the physical preparedness as best you can, but it’s the enjoyment of reaching a goal and enjoying the journey that ultimately leads to success. So spend some time thinking of your hiking goals for this year. Where do your want to go? How much time do you have to hike? Go over some trail guides and seek the advice of others as to the trails that might work. Pencil it into your calendar. With the goal in mind, your can now begin to work toward it. Sharing about it in social media forums helps you set the goal in place.

Start Some Weight Control

Many have enjoyed the treats of the holidays but are now faced with some extra weight to lose. If you are one of those that may need to shed a few pounds, start by choosing good foods. There is no need to do some diet fad. Vegetables

especially the green types, lean meats and fish, whole wheat products, and drink plenty of water are good choices. Try to cut down on refined sugary products and useless carbohydrates like white breads, crackers, muffins, things that will spike your sugar levels. Also, when you feel full, stop eating. Don’t take the second helping. Controlling portions helps.

Physical Activity

If you have never engaged in a physical activity, start slow. A walk around the neighborhood for starters. Take the stairs at work instead of the elevator. Park a good distance away from where your need to go and walk there instead. Walk as much as you can and slowly increase the amount of walking you do. I’ve heard of some walking up and down bleachers at school stadiums, etc. if there are no hills in your area. You can also load up a day pack and head for the hills.

Hiking in snow is actually good exercise, but take it easy when you do.
If you have trails to walk, try to get out on weekend and enjoy a few mile hike, increasing as time goes by. Later on you can load up the backpack you plan to take and carry it. I’ve been seen carrying my backpack on trips around the neighborhood. I also alternate jogging with hiking or cross training. One day I'll hike 8-10 miles, the other days I am out jogging 2-3 miles. You can also alternate with other sports, like biking, swimming, etc. I have to admit I am not a treadmill person, but if this is what you have to work with in snowy conditions, then use it. But stay as active as you can.

The Hike Comes

Don’t sweat it if you are not in great shape. The trail will do it for you in no time. Keep your miles low and the weight in your backpack low. Start out slow. Realize that aches, pains, and some blisters are all part of doing something your body is not accustomed to. It will adapt. Most of all, enjoy the journey whether on your own or with family or friends. Take lots of pictures and share about your trip. 

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