Training for My Thru-Hike No Pain No Gain Style

I have approximately 100 days to thru-hike the Appalachian Trail.

It’s a privilege to have the time I do to train. There’s no choice to do it in less time and I cannot fathom doing only half of it as some have suggested. I am hiking my own hike. My hike will consist of big miles and long days. I am pressed for time but this additional challenge is exciting to me and in no way do I see this as a downfall or a reason to slow down or quit. It’s a reason to push forward and do more.

I am currently up to hiking 50 miles a week. I have been on a training schedule for two months now and slowly increasing my weekly miles. There is no reason to hike anywhere without my pack and all of my gear, or a 20 pound weighted vest. Taking off my pack while on the trail will not be an option so I need to get used to carrying the weight now.

After my children head off to school in the morning I pound a liter of water and some pre-workout. Three days a week I hike big miles, at least 12-23 on those three days. I like to switch it up between the state parks with high elevation gains and when I do more than 15 miles I stay on the road locally. This gets me comfortable with my gear and my pack weight.

Two remaining days of the work week I schedule sessions with a personal trainer for muscle strengthening. He pushes me a lot further than I would push myself. After my training sessions on those two days I will go and hike no more than five miles. Days that I go to the gym are my hard days. I do not dread them, but my body hurts for days after, and I still have to get my miles in. It will be no different when I’m on the trail. I do know that miles do not hike themselves.

I believe in the saying “no pain, no gain.”

On weekends I do absolutely nothing. Saturday mornings after I get out of bed I walk down my hallway and lie in one spot on the couch all day. My kids watch movies with me. I train hard during the week so my weekend time is for them. Most of the time I fall asleep in that same spot at night with one or two or sometimes all three of them cuddled up with me.

This beautiful cold Sunday morning I woke up at 6 a.m. I was on the road by 6:30 and got 12 miles in before 10. It was only 30 degrees out. I’m sure that doesn’t sound cold depending on where you are from. I’ve gotten spoiled in North Carolina and enjoy the long summers and heat. I could have done more miles, but with children my time is precious and they need a lot of it too.

A lot of people say that I can’t finish the Appalachian Trail in that amount of time. They can say what they want.  They don’t know me. I’m going out there to prove it to me that I can do this. I am not like other hikers. After I was widowed my drive for life changed.

My world changed so fast in such a powerful way I feel like I still haven’t been able to grasp my life for what it is.

Thru-hikers have praised their experience as life-changing. This is my last hope to change mine. I have adapted this routine as a lifestyle. Hiking is much more than a hobby for me, it’s becoming a part of who I am.

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Comments 9

  • Mike H : Dec 16th

    Good luck! Just don’t hurt yourself before you start.

    • Angela : Dec 17th

      Thank you!!

  • Don G. : Dec 16th

    Best of luck to you. So sorry to hear of your loss. 100 days is very possible. Sounds like you are taking some great steps to help achieve this goal. I sincerely wish you great success and hope to read of your accomplishments

    • Angela : Dec 17th

      Thank you! I appreciate the support

  • Greg : Dec 17th

    100 days is totally doable!! Do not let folks tell you it is not. I did it in 109 days in 2009 and still had a blast. Judging from your story, we have a very similar need to be in the woods and it was great. Folks said I missed a lot of the social aspect of town days and zeros but it really did not appeal to me. I wanted to be on the trail as much as possible. Best of luck and I am sure your you can get it done.

    • Angela : Dec 17th

      Thank you! I know it’s been done before! It’s nice to hear from people that have accomplished the impossible. I just gotta get out there and keep pushing forward! I appreciate your kind words and encouragement!

  • Racoon : Dec 24th

    I came across your blog post today. I’m not a widow but I’ve had a lot of loss in the last five years including my 34 year old son May 11th. RIP MWT. Hiking is my therapy too and it’s where I go pretty much daily to work things out in my head. It’s hard to feel bad after a walk in the woods. After Mark died I pushed myself to my physical limit a number of times on the trail, collapsing in a heap of sweat and tears that felt so good in a way only you and I and others like us can understand.

    I’m rooting for you. I know you are training and that is great. The one thing I’d say is build up to the big miles over the first 3 weeks or so on trail. Many people try to do too much too fast and end up having to come off trail to recover and recuperate. You don’t have a lot of margin for that on your schedule so that would be tough.

    Vaya con dios hermana.

    Racoon – aka Robert

  • Kevin Jones : Dec 25th

    Wow! Your quest is certainly challenging, but it is your bio that I found particularly moving. I have never hiked more than a few short hikes here and there, but I cam getting into now and I am inspired by your story. I’m sure you can do whatever you put your mind to doing. My general though (is it advice if I am a novice?) is to plan for doing it in 95 or 96 days so you have some buffer built in if you have to rest, shorten a couple of days, etc.

    I find peace and a connection with God in nature, too, so your own reasons for hiking resonate with me. Best wishes for a strong and successful hike.

  • KMac : Jan 5th

    Best of luck! I don’t know if our paths will intersect – I know you will blow by me when they do- but I am rooting for you!


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