Physically Preparing for the Appalachian Trail
The AT is a physically and mentally taxing endeavor. I have four months left before I leave the Southern Terminus of the trail and begin my hike. This winter I want to make sure that my body is as ready as it can be to take on the AT.
The best way to train for hiking is to hike. I am sure we have all heard this advice before because it’s good advice. That is why my training this winter is going to be centered around hiking. I am aiming to hike about two days per week so my body is used to hiking a lot come springtime. I will still have had enough rest days to make sure I am fresh when I start the trail. I will also be doing most of this hiking in winter conditions in the Adirondacks. Snowshoeing up and down the 4,000-footers in the High Peaks of the Adirondacks will surely keep me in good enough shape to start the AT with a good base level of fitness.
Hiking in the winter is a different beast than hiking during the other three seasons. Extra precautions must be taken and more gear is needed as a result of that. I want to ensure that my body is used to carrying a decent amount of weight before I set off on the trail. Even though I only day hike in the winter, my gear will be comparably heavy to my AT gear setup. Combining the weight of my pack with the added difficulty of hiking through snowy conditions makes winter hiking difficult. And what does it take to train for something as difficult as the AT? Difficult hiking!
Aside from hiking, I want to ensure that I do core and leg work this winter. Goblet squats, lunges, single leg deadlifts, and step-ups have worked well for me in the past. These exercises give me a chance to improve my strength, stabilization, and balance. I also am going to work yoga into my routine. Yoga will help my balance, flexibility, and core strength. Weekly hiking with the addition of weighted exercises and yoga will hopefully get my body in the best shape possible for the spring.
This is a big learning process for me. I am aware that my training will surely change as the winter comes and goes. I think there are benefits to having a robust plan, but I also need to be willing to listen to my body and adapt my training to find what works best.
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