Getting your rows in a duck! short list of pre-trail reminders
Start getting comfortable with being uncomfortable
Its crunch time!
Saving money and working overtime might be your life at the moment, but in months or weeks (depending on when you depart) you will be taking your first steps onto the Appalachian Trail. This is just a short check list to help motivate, and maybe remind some of us of a few simple things to help prep for the AT, and any long trek!
Bulking?? Not exactly, we are not body builders and some of us may not need to put on the extra weight but your “pre-trail” nutrition is a lot more important than most think. Let put it this way, if you were going to take your car on a really long road trip, and you had time to prepare, you would want to make sure you prep your car by changing out any part that may go out and change the necessary fluids make sure your tires look okay… main point being PREVENTATIVE maintenance! So many hikers overlook the fact that in weeks or months you may have a severely restricted diet. We all will be eating a lot of calorie dense foods that will, from time to time, leave us nutritionally unbalanced (to put it nicely). We have a great opportunity to make sure our bodies are firing on all cylinders so here a few helpful tips. FATS don’t make you fat, do your research, healthy fats and oils are great for body as well as your brain! Healthy fats help improve metabolism, balancing hormones and regulate several other mechanisms. Carbs are soooooo important when it comes to LSD (long slow distance, not drugs) running or hiking, really for any endurance sport but don’t shy away from complex carbs (a lot of fad diets tell you to stay away from carbs) get use to eating them now, you won’t hike the trail without them. Get your gains on with some protein! Protein is an important building block of bones, muscles, cartilage, skin, and more, a protein supplement or just making sure you are getting an appropriate amount of food based protein is going to help build lean muscle and help regulate several different body mechanisms. MICRO-nutrients are way more important than you think!!! So many people are unknowingly deprived of certain vitamins and minerals and getting a start on it now WILL make a difference. From fish\krill oil to magnesium and multi-vitamins this is some of the real the preventative maintenance to ensure best results when pushing yourself in extreme conditions. Please at least buy yourself a multi-vitamin! ( I could go on and on but will continue in an alternate blog regarding pre-trail nutrition 😉
All the 2014 thur hikers that I know were able to make it from GA to ME but noted that they were burned by the lack of physical preparation. Luckily getting physically prepared is a lot easier than you think..hear me out!! The reason I say that its easier than you would think is because your simply not going to be completely physically prepared for the trail so you don’t need to focus on making it a perfect transition from street to trail. That being said, you can hit the trail on point!! It will take a few weeks on the trail to get your hiker legs in condition but starting now before the trail is THE BEST way to avoid injuries and make sure that you’re not overwhelmed during your first few weeks. You can get to the point where hiking the trail is a smooth transition and you’re not killing yourself out there taking zeros because of sore muscles. Get in the gym or just get outside and get to work! The most important muscle groups will be the legs and core\back, BUT (puns) do not ignore the other muscle groups! It doesn’t matter if you’re really thin or really.. not thin :p..getting your muscles used to endurance exercises will only benefit you. This include walking on an incline, running, stairs, squats, lunges, and even sprints, and that’s just a start! You’re not a body builder you do not need to load the weights on heavy however the strength training is very important, remember, you will lose muscle mass and we will need our strength!
Testing your gear~
Now I am sure you have purchased new gear or will be placing your last orders here soon I believe it or not, it might not be the best idea to keep your new gear in its package.?!?!? Now some people may be able to disregard this step however knowing your gear and its limits, is something we need to know for the trail. This includes DIY projects, I’m impressed that you made a under-quilt\tent\rain-gear but make sure you test that shit! An important gear prep tip- Make sure your Base layers and sleeping bags (under quilts, hammocks ect..) are going to keep you warm. Put on your gear and sleep in the woods or your yard if you have to, just make sure you test your gear while maintaining its new like quality. Just as a potential hiking partner I would hate to see anyone trying to break in boots on the trail or have their “new” gear rip\tear ect.. Won’t stop us from helping you out but we definitely would suggest making sure your tents are sealed, your poles will hold up, your able to stay warm and your boots\shoes are broken in.
My point of testing your gear, pre-trail exercise and nutrition leads into testing yourself. Get out of the house and make sure you’re getting your nature on! One of the best ways to get prepared for the trail is to start doing, what your actually going to be doing out there.. go hiking and go frequently! Now this isn’t the best option for everyone due to time restraints however I would say it is an important preparation. Test yourself, take a limited amount of supplies and the normal items you would take on your thru hike and make sure you don’t cheat yourself, we need to be pushed to our limits to know where those limits are, you will be pushed out there. Now just to clear this up I’m not saying put yourself in danger but rather to put yourself in a scenario similar to being on a long trek. If you haven’t camped for more than a night or two, you may want to get out there for a few days and start getting comfortable with being uncomfortable. Now this could be its own topic but this is where you train you mind for success, half the battle is will, this is how you eliminate doubt! Be strong inside and out, be prepared and be inspired.
Stay motivated and happy hiking!
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