No matter what length of hike you plan on undertaking, fitness training should always be part of the preparation. Obviously the longer the distances and the bigger the daily duration, the more preparation you need to undertake. In addition each of us has unique physical needs dictated by our history. For me I have a partially crushed disc in my lower back, shoulder spurs and a calf injury that all combines to create ongoing issues that run the length of my body and that I know how to manage; it’s only when I don’t, that I have problems.
After getting off the Hume and Hovell Track in 2019 I had a long hard think about how I managed to do a 1000+ km thru hike on the Bibbulmun Track the year before without any problems but had major issues on a trail less than half the length. It took me a little while to identify the contributing factors but first and foremost was my lack of physical training.
In 2018 my preparation started eight months out because I had no frame of reference for my first long distance hike. I did everything I could to ensure I was physically fit. In 2019 complacency set in and I didn’t do anything other than my normal weekly fitness regime which was a dismal failure in preparing me for walking 20+ km per day.
Training for a long distance hike over multiple weeks where I average 32 km per day and aim at covering 200 km per week is a very different beast to training for a 100 km hike undertaken 0ver 5-10 days. For most people this type of hiking can be classed as extreme and falls into the endurance sport category given I burn up to 8,000 calories on really big days and average 5,800 calories/day over the duration of a trip. Training for a long distance hike needs to start months in advance, with a clearly defined set of goals to ensure that you peak just prior to the trip.
So in March 2020, eight months out from the proposed start for my Australian Alps Walking Track (AAWT) thru hike I started ramping up my physical preparation well in advance of the mid November start date; just in time for Covid to hit and impact my access to the gym. Luckily by that stage I was doing 5 km walk daily walks, a 90 minute cycle each week, and increasing my weight training based on what equipment I have at home. In addition I am also working on my flexibility and strength training (for more detail listen to podcast episode 032 where Joe Bonington discusses preparation for long hikes/adventure activities). The only missing piece, at least at this stage, is the ability to access a swimming pool which I find necessary to keep my back happy and healthy. Over the coming months I will start to do longer hikes including some 30 km days and around two months out (mid September) I will get serious about training with a loaded pack.
Previous Post Next Post
No matter what length of hike you plan on undertaking, fitness training should always be part of the preparation. Obviously the longer the distances and the bigger the daily duration, the more preparation you need to undertake. In addition each of us has unique physical needs dictated by our history. For me I have a […]