Hiking Tip–Physical preparation

Preparing for a thru-hike of a long-distance trail

How does one physically prepare for an extended hike? Most people, if they are heavy, will attempt to drop weight and work out. Many in decent shape will do more running, or jump on a treadmill. All of this is good, but there is something else you need to do.

Take a look at the pictures. In the one with the blaze on the tree, that is the actual trail to the left of the blaze. This is a particularly rocky section of the AT in Pennsylvania. No matter how many times you jog around the high school track, your legs and feet are not prepared for this. Nor roots. Roots are everywhere and anywhere–even on rocks like shown above. Tip: Start backpacking in fields, forests, and parklands near you, and build up to shakedown hikes over diverse terrain.

This way your legs and body adapt to field conditions. Although I haven’t done it, I think climbing up and down stairs in a stadium, with your backpack, will help you if you live in the city. Best of all, build yourself up to a full backpack with all attachments (tent, sleeping pad, etc.) and get outside and go. Don’t do too much, too soon, too fast; build yourself up.

Published by Ray Anderson

Hiker and writer. Have hiked the Appalachian Trail, Pacific Crest Trail, The Long Trail (Vermont), and some of the Continental Divide Trail. My trail name is "HAMLET." Have written three hiking novels (thrillers). The first one, "THE TRAIL," was traditionally published in 2015. My second hiking thriller, "SIERRA," released Oct 2016. Book three in my AWOL hiking-thriller series, "THE DIVIDE" releases from Turner Publishing 8/18/2020. www.RayKAnderson.com

6 thoughts on “Hiking Tip–Physical preparation

  1. Good advice, Ray.  Now I won’t feel guilty loading up my backpack with “Shakedown” Fritos!


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  2. To start my training I loaded up my backpack with everything I intend to take with me into the field, and dressed in my trail gear. I then would take long walks around my town. Luckily I live in a hilly area so the hills gave me a good challenge, but still was nothing compared to a trail. It was just good because it helps my body get used to the pack and great to help conditioning too.

    1. Yes, I did the same thing as you. There are two state parks fairly close to me, and I dressed and packed just like I would have on the trails. Only thing different was that I started out training with a small pack and light gear.

      1. Did people treat you like you were homeless? I only ask because someone offered my money once, and another time the police stopped me to ask what I was doing. Lol.

      2. Never been offered money. But one time on a lesser-traveled trail near a city I was hobbling because of a blister. Someone must have called the police with suspicions because an officer came by and checked out my license, etc., before driving me into town.

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