Once again we’ve stumbled into a territory that comes under much debate among thru hikers and future thru hikers and it goes something like this… should a person train before starting a thru hike of the Appalachian Trail?
To each his own, I say, mainly because I’ve seen successful thru hikers who swear that they were able to accomplish the feat by staying as fit as possible leading up to the hike as well as those who were able to complete the trip without any training or any prior hiking experience whatsoever.
It is commonly recognized that a person will get their ‘trail legs’ within a few hundred miles of starting the journey, so as far as I’m concerned I’ll just let the trail dictate how far I should hike based on what my body will allow me to do. As I’ve stated many times, I will be in no particular hurry as I walk from Georgia to Maine.
There are plenty of hiking trails near my home, so I can satisfy my craving to hike whenever the fancy strikes, but if I start forcing myself to ‘train’ then I may begin to regard the process as a chore and much of the joy I derive from trekking long distances may begin to wane.
I do think it’s important to give any gear I intend to use a thorough workout though. I’d hate to hit the trail with a janky-ass tent that can’t keep any rain water from seeping into the confines, or a pair of trekking poles that bend or break with any amount of exertion imposed upon them. Rain gear will most certainly need a good going over before heading out, and my sleeping bag and air mattress will need to be tested as well. Will my trash compactor backpack liners make the grade?
So much to do and so little time to get it all done, right?
There is one workout that I’ve been contemplating and it involves trips to the gym. I hate gyms! They are breeding grounds for narcissism and self aggrandizement, but they serve a purpose every now and then…
I have given serious thought to signing up for a low-cost gym membership and then hitting the treadmill with a full pack, putting myself through the paces on various incline and speed levels.
What a sight that would be, huh?
For now, whenever I hear the hiking gods calling out to me, I’ll just load up my current pack with about thirty pounds of stuff and hit the trail behind my house in Reston, Va. It’s not the hilliest of terrain but it’s certainly more productive than sitting in front of my laptop blogging about the virtues of thru hike training for my upcoming Appalachian Trail adventure.
I’d love to hear about your training regimen in the comments section… HINT, HINT!