Thru-Hike Training, Maybe Eventually Soon

On Training, and Being Fit

In 2013, I rang in the New Year by downloading an app called Drunk to 5k (potential misremembering) and took to the pavement, aiming to get my cigarette-smoking, line-blowing, tequila-chugging, in-spite-of-everything-beautiful ass to somehow bang out three miles.

Over the next few years, my schedule – that of a grad student and service industry professional – was conducive to training, learning, and making money by talking to people, all while staying in bed until 10:30. These, along with Twizzlers, coffee, sex, fiction books, and seeing the sun rise and set in the same day, were and still are a few of my favorite things. I worked my way from the couch to a 5k, then a 10k and a 21k. Then they stopped making apps, and I had to download PDFs with training plans. But I was into it, so even the lack of an app didn’t deter me! My athleticism blossomed. Muscles emerged. Flexibility reigned supreme in my bedroom. Endorphins on endorphins on endorphins. All was right in the world.

And Then I Wasn’t

When I started working as a teacher, though, I suddenly had No Time or Energy. Most of my favorite things (see above) became distant memories (except for the Twizzlers, which probably explains why none of my pants fit). Though exercise wasn’t utterly eradicated from my life, my training sessions involved a lot more walking and a lot less speed. A valiant effort was made, but with the exception of a few halfhearted runs on random sunny days, my life has been a lot less K and a lot more Couch.

I’m slow-jogging down memory lane because this decrease in physical activity is really fucking poorly timed, considering the fact that there’s a pretty long walk in my very near future. In addition, I don’t even have the confidence that my bones and blood are properly nourished due to Trump-induced anxious eating. Wake up, check news, read horrific things, eat sausage, egg and cheese. My gym bag has been packed for weeks, yet I remain sedentary.

So There’s This Trail…

So with regards to the Appalachian Trail and my July 1st start date, there’s a slight problem. Consider a marathon training plan: Many advise doing a 20-miler as the longest pre-race run, the argument being that you run the last bit with your heart rather than your legs and thus don’t have to practice that last 10k. Taking this into account, the proportional way to train for the Appalachian Trail would be a five-year plan working up to a 1692.3 mile hike about seven months before your actual thru-hike start date. As I can’t spend the next decade of my life walking in circles, alternate plans must be made.

But isn’t that why I want to hike the AT? Making the impossible possible? And aren’t there are countless tales of hikers who head up Springer Mountain unable to run a mile without stopping and who finish at Katahdin fitter than Scott Jurek? In fact, the more I read, the less it seems anyone trains. Yes, there are outdoor enthusiasts for whom the natural progression of endurance activities is a long distance hike. But there are also many unfit individuals with a wish, a prayer, and a Sawyer Squeeze (myself included), packed, prepped, and ready to roll.

So if there’s anyone reading this who has an effective 46-day training plan for a six-month hike, let me know. In the mean time, I’ll be drinking PBR and wearing microfleece leggings as part of my Couch to Katahdin training plan in preparation for the adventure of a lifetime.

Me "training" last year on the Tour de Month Blanc...old habits die hard




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