Muscle & Motivation
With my upcoming adventure, it seems the only thing this coffee addict says more than “I’d like a grande, Blonde Roast” is “I’m thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail.” As you all know, this statement warrants more than a few follow up questions. The first is almost always, “Wait, like the whole Appalachian Trail?” followed by “You’re going with someone right?”, to which I (internally) roll my eyes. Eventually most people get around to my favorite question, “How are you training for it?”
As all loyal Appalachian Trial readers know, the A.T. is more of a mental challenge than a physical one. It’s the ability to mentally push yourself to walk 5 million steps in the rain, heat, and snow. For friends who still worry about the physical aspect, I remind them that a few weeks of hiking will get almost anyone in shape. I explain that it’s common for hikers to take the first week or so easy, keeping miles low, then increase mileage as their body grows accustomed to carrying everything they own up and down mountains.
Now, these may be the things I say to calm the A.T. armchair quarterbacks, but my actions behind closed doors say otherwise. Switching from a routine of little (or no) physical activity to total devotion to climbing mountains can be an extreme shock to the body and psyche. So while I don’t believe getting in shape before the trail is necessary, I personally believe training physically can be a huge advantage to the physical and mental transition.
Whereas my father is spending his last weeks enjoying daily access to ice cream and Coca-Cola (which I fully support!), I’ve been doing daily BodyRock workouts (in-home high intensity interval training videos). Keeping myself on a training schedule, I’ve found there are some mornings where I don’t have the motivation to get out of bed early to sweat for an hour. I could easily give an excuse like “whatever, I’ll just get in shape on the trail,” and go back to sleep, but then I imagine waking up instead on the trail in a hammock. It’s not like every morning I could say, “mehhh, don’t feel like hiking today. It’s cold and I’m tired.” Yes, there are zero days, but in general you’ve got to make yourself hike through any and all circumstances.
So, now, I wake up and do the workout anyway. It takes mental strength for me to get out of bed and do HIIT training – the same kind of strength I’ll need to get out of my sleeping bag and hike in the rain. And you know what? I can feel myself getting stronger both physically and mentally. By being intentional and mindful with my decisions to workout, I’m training myself to have control over my urges and actions. Bodyrock has truly kept me in tune with how far I can mentally push myself. I should be able to cross off my anxiety of “not being physically capable” early, and for that I thank myself.
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