5 Ways City Dwellers Prepare for a Thru-Hike
Just because you’re far from the trails doesn’t mean you can’t prepare to hike on them. Highlighted below are how City Dwellers are preparing for big hikes.
1) Skip public transportation whenever possible and walk everywhere.
The average American walks about 2.5 miles a day according to a study in the October issue of Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise. This study also had urban/city dwellers walking an average of ~300 steps more than their suburban and rural counterparts. In my current city, New York, residents also live longer partly due to the fast paced walking this city’s lifestyle has. Even when walking fast many times people still blow right by as if you’re a snail. New Yorkers take walking seriously.
If you live in a walking city take advantage of it. City Dwellers have vast sidewalks that make a walking commute not only possible, but also at times easier and faster than crowded public transportation. Skip the packed subway car and save your precious dollars for the trail. It’s a no lose situation. Like having gym that pays you to use it.
Another way to add bonus miles to your day is to use your lunch break for a walk. You can get about 2 miles done in 45 minutes. You’re feet will thank you when your transition to the trail is somewhat less of a shock.
2) Walk those miles in all sorts of weather.
Another “bonus” I personally could live without is walking in all sorts of weather. City Dwellers walk in the rain, cold, snow, wind, and heat. If especially unlucky, a walk will include a combination of these. Who says City Dwellers aren’t tough enough for the woods? Unlike suburbanites, many of those who live in cities also live without the luxury of driving a warm car right to a warm office. There is also the option to avoid harsh weather by using public transportation or cabs, but don’t. Save your money and walk. There won’t be a choice of what weather there is to walk in during a thru-hike so take the opportunity to get used to the discomfort now.
3) You have so many resources close by, use them.
Does your city have an outdoor retailer? Chances are it has multiple, even Manhattan has an REI. Retailers like this offer great outdoor prep classes (some even free!) available at their locations. Confused about your gear? They are also great people to bounce ideas off of. Use them!
One resource I take full advantage of are the free trial classes. In Manhattan especially, there is an unlimited number of gyms offering trials. Cardio, kickboxing and I especially am fond of yoga. Yay injury prevention! Of course you don’t have to go the cheap route on the workout front. If you discover something you love that motivates you, sign up and make that your workout of choice. A big cities mean big options.
4) Take advantage of the many supportive communities around you.
Don’t forget about all those people around you. They are an excellent resource. Chances are, in your city, there’s a community of people who also love what you love. Search for a group to join to be your city support. Maybe it’s a hiking club, maybe it’s a fitness group. Communities are great motivators and help prepare you for what’s ahead. The group of regulars and staff at the New Jersey Running Company in Hoboken are my motivators. After a long work week that leaves me exhausted, a run with them will always perk up my spirits and keep me going.
5) You spot know crazy so well, you have a reflex to avoid it.
Any area with a large concentration of people is bound to have a few crazy outliers. If you live in a city you know what I mean. There are certain people who are unpredictable, looking for trouble, and City Dwellers try their hardest not to engage them. Knowing how to handle “crazy” situations is a great life skill many City Dwellers develop. Life on the trail compared to the rest of the country is actually very safe. Yet, it certainly doesn’t hurt to know how to keep questionable people at a distance since they are everywhere. Many of us in the hiking community are crazy, and certainly not in a dangerous way. Does walking over 2,000+ miles sound sane? If you’re not a pro at spotting the harmless from the questionable, take notice of what’s around you and learn the difference.
New York City, as well as other cities, has various trains and buses to take you to the outdoors. There is even an Appalachian Trail train stop that runs from NYC right to the trail on weekends (you can also use this to visit the city while on your thru-hike.) Don’t forget to make some time in the great outdoors!
If you live in a flat rural area and were looking for a way to prepare, check out Lara’s post here.
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