How Do You Prepare To Hike The Appalachian Trail (2200 miles)

So, I got asked a lot, are you training for your hike?  How are you training?   Well, hiking the Appalachian Trail, physically anyway, is basically walking 2200 miles , with 27 to 35 lbs on your back.  How do you train for that?

Lets do the Math (Come on, I went to Technical School)

If its 2200 miles, you got between 5 and 6 months to complete this.  I am leaving on 4/10, and there is a hard stop on the north end at Katahdin on 10/15. (They close the state park due to weather).  So, that leaves a little over 6 months to do this in one trip.  If the average month is 4.3 weeks, I have 6 x 4.3 = 25.8 weeks to do this.  I want to average taking a one day off a week, for physical and mental reasons.  So, 25.8 x 6 days a week = 154.8 hiking days.  2200 total miles/154.8 hiking days = 14.2 miles per hiking day.  Worse case.  If you wanted to do it in 5 months, then 5 x 4.3 = 21.5 weeks to do this.  Again, taking one day off a week, 21.5 x 6 days a week = 126 hiking days.  2200 total mile/ 126 hiking days = 17.5 miles per day.  My hope is to be somewhere in between at about 5.5 months.

So How Do You Train For Walking 14 to 17 Miles a Day With 27 to 35 lbs on Your Back?

The most likely problem for me, or anyone else for that matter, is some type of joint or repetitive injury that would knock you off the trail.  Exactly why I plan on taking a day off a week.  So, in order to complete  14 to 18 miles per day, if you walk 6 to 7 hours a day, you need to walk at a rate of 2 to 2.6 miles/hour.  When the going is fairly tough, I can generally still crank out 2 miles per hour with a pack.  Young bucks can do 3 miles an hour.  That’s’ kicking ass.  Screw them.  I can’t do that anymore.  At least not for very long.  I will break down.  If the trail is a walk in the park, sometimes it is, a lot of times its not, I can do 3 miles/ hour.  But, is has to be a walk in the park, somewhere where you can stride.  A lot of the trail you can stride, and a lot of the trail you have to worry about every step.  Where you put each step.  That really slows you down.  If you follow my blog, I will say what the trail is like. In places where there is a lot of foot placement to worry about, I will probably say so.

Who’s Got Time For That?

So, in order to get in between 14 to 18 miles a day at 2 to 2.6 miles an hour, you need to walk between 6 and 7 hours a day.  Obviously, the best way to train would be to walk for that long with weight on your back.  I am retired, but I still don’t have that kind of time to devote to training.  Just not realistic.  So, the best thing I think I can do is just be in the best shape I can reasonably be.  So, I have been just going to the gym, doing resistance training 3 days a week, trying to build a little muscle, (that I know I am going to lose on trail), and doing cardio and core training 2 days a week,  I worked up to doing 16 minutes on the stair master and then 20 minutes on an Elliptical at reasonable resistance levels.  I think that will put me generally in better shape than most people that attempt a thru hike.  I guess we will see.  Generally, I just plan to start off slow, listen to my body and try to build up to an average 15 miles plus per day.  The beginning of the trail in Georgia is tough.  Very hard to be at 15 miles per day.  As you get to Virginia, the grade gets less severe, you get conditioned to the trail, (get your trail legs), and average miles per day will probably pick up.  (Lets keep our fingers crossed).  Best laid plans.

What’s Up Doc?

So, went to the doc in February.  Got checked out and blood work done.  All blood work looked good.  I haven’t been on any medications.  Went to give blood about a year and a half ago and got turned down for high blood pressure.  So, I have been working on that, started slowly on Amlodipine and  increased my training since I retired at the end of the year.  Its come down, still a little high.  Interested to see how walking 6 to 7 hours a day with a pack on your back, change in diet, reduced alcohol intake, will effect that.  I anticipate that it will get significantly better.

I had a body scan at the gym, both in January, when I increased my training regimen, and again at the end of March, before I took a week off at the lake with Nicki and the grand kids the week before I left.  I was going to insert it here, but I only have a pdf of it and evidently WordPress wants another type of file, and I am in a hotel room, and can’t do anything else.

So, I had gotten down to about 177 lbs and 15% body fat.  Dropped about 4 pounds and a couple of percent body fat. (I know it says 179, but that’s with clothes on, I weigh at home, NEKID, and I was 177, so there).  Some people have asked me if I was fattening up.  I have even followed some bloggers from last year that did exactly that.  Some were successful thru hikers.  But that seems really counter intuitive to me. I am not going to hibernate.   I am going to be walking with a pack on my back.  Seems like the less you have to carry, the less you have to feed, the less you have to feed, the less you have to carry.  So, I don’t buy that.  I know that I will lose weight as I go.  But gaining weight in order to lose it, doesn’t make sense to me, unless your going to hibernate.  We will see how it works out.

Hiker Hunger

One thing I am really looking forward to, is when I go to town, eating what ever I want.  It’s been a long time since I have been able to do that. (30 years?).  I am used to going to a restaurant, and ordering based on, I really don’t need that, this has less carbs, less calories, etc.  Now, give me the big burger! Jumbo fries!  Rings!  Fat free Dressing?  Are you kidding me?

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