My last long hike was cursed from day 1. I dealt with injuries from mile 15 all the way up to the Sierra 700+ miles ahead and it wasn’t ideal at all. Though my next hike is only just under 300 miles I still don’t want to get caught by surprise again and I also want to develop a routine for when I take on longer treks in the future. Plus exercise is just great in general and I miss getting a good workout every day, so ideally this is my new weekly routine for a long time.
To start my diet is basically whatever, I generally eat healthy stuff and now that I’m off trail I don’t have any excuses for going to go get fast food anymore. I’m going to try intermittent fasting to try and tame the beast that is my stomach right now, I still go through phases where my body tells me to eat everything in sight for a good few hour stretch which is a stark contrast to what my appetite was like before my hike where I could have a couple slices of toast for breakfast, packet of almonds and another small snack for lunch, a good dinner, and feel fine. Hiking ruined my appetite, I feel like I need to eat a lot all day still and it’s the worst.
I’m trying a schedule out that is really no big deal. Basically my first meal of the day is at 12:00PM, lunch at 4:00PM, dinner at 8:00PM. A good portion of the fasting period is done while I’m asleep and gives my body a 16 hour window to actually digest what I’ve taken in without me deciding to add some snacks on top of what I’ve already eaten.
I don’t really feel like I should even call this fasting, it’s just a schedule. But I got it from a website that insists it should be called intermittent fasting so.. whatever. I feel it’s better than fasting for one or more days each week, I kinda feel like that will throw everything out of whack. The point is to get on a good schedule and get back to feeling okay with ignoring the times your body tells you it’s hungry when it’s had plenty of food intake.
Something that became clear to me as I walked through the desert in California: I do not drink enough water in my normal life by a long-shot. I was forced to drink a pretty healthy amount in the desert and noticed some good benefits, but in large I just felt better. I kinda fell back into the same routine of me not drinking enough (over the past few days I’ve probably only had a few liters, it’s a horrible habit) when I got back home. So now I’m going to be drinking a gallon a day. That’s almost four liters of water each day which is really easy to at least keep track of if you have a one liter bottle. I drank this much or more on my hike and loved it. That being said of course regular life doesn’t make me as thirsty, so it might be a rough adjustment initially.
I want to preface this by saying I hate gyms. I hate them so much. Starting a new workout routine is sure to be ignored if I start going to the gym, so I don’t develop a plan reliant on them. I much prefer to do stuff at home where I don’t have to listen to dudebros screaming as they do deadlifts, wait in line to use equipment, and generally not take part in gym culture as a whole. It’s not for me, I like to enjoy my workout and I can’t do that at a gym. In the past I’ve just thrown together exercises I can do at home without equipment and it’s worked quite well, there was noticeable improvement and I actually stuck with it.
Since I’m mostly trying to maintain my legs, I mostly focus on leg workouts but I threw in some general body stuff mostly to increase the duration of it overall because I enjoy it. Exercise is good and such.
Home Workout – Every Two days
Side Leg Lifts
Reverse Leg Lifts
In general I increase the amount I do by 5 each time, and I break the overall amount I do into three different repetitions so I’m not taking it on all at once. That’s a good way to feel more accomplished/sore, but I’m focusing on pushing myself without ruining myself. My overall goal is to just physically prepare for the next hike rather than looking ripped, I love pushing myself but injury only sets you back. Eventually I’ll be doing the amount I’d prefer. I still feel like I could be doing more, so I may add more to the routine if I continue to feel this way. But for now I’m starting simple.
Run Boy Run – Every Two Days
I hate the idea of running so much (when I am running however, I love it), but it’s good cardio. I’m on a regimen for marathon training that I follow loosely. My end goal isn’t a marathon so I’m not pushing myself too hard with it because I don’t want to get an injury while I’m actively trying to prevent injury down the line. If I’d started on it right after my time on the PCT it would have been no problem, but I waited too long and now I get to start from square 2. My current goal is to run for 35 minutes straight. When I hit that I’ll cool off and lower the time, then bring it up by a few minutes. My first run I got to 15 which by all accounts wasn’t bad at all.
My endurance on the trail was excellent when I got into the swing of things and felt capable of doing sustained walking throughout the day 95% of the time, some days not so much. Anyone can get to this point even if they don’t exercise pre-hike. I’m doing this and everything else so I don’t shock my body day 1 and can start off on a good note.
Yoga – Day After Run
I threw in a yoga routine since it’s not intensive and gives me some time to stretch out my muscles and also stay active on off-days. I’m still kinda throwing a routine together but these are the poses I’ve settled on thus far. A lot of these have a focus on legs. I’m not a yoga expert, but I have done it routinely in the past and focused on the ones that felt right to me.
Open Side Fierce
Extended Standing Straddle
Wide Legged Split
Extended Side Angle
I don’t really set rules for this, I just do it until I feel like I’ve done enough.
I generally walk every day because I have a dog, so everything described is in addition to my daily stroll with her. It may seem like it’s a lot, but I’ve done the full routine at least once through so far and it’s really not that bad. I still have a good deal of strength left over from my hike and after doing high miles every single day over the summer, this feels pretty minute aside from the running. The muscles are still there, the endurance is not.
I don’t track or pay attention to how long these walks are, I just go until I or my dog feel like turning back.
Last But Not Least
The best way to prepare for a hike is to.. wait for it.. hike! With a focus on uphill mainly. I hiked for a long time seeing marginal progress until I started doing hikes up mountains, that’s when I saw very dramatic improvement in my overall fitness and I absolutely 100% recommend with certainty that if you want to train for a hike or just be healthier, do strenuous uphill hikes (start easy, progress harder). It’s so incredibly amazing for you overall and you see almost instant results in your progress. It’s very rewarding.
Whenever I go out for a hike I’ll substitute it for whatever routine I had planned for the day and throw in an alternate yoga routine before/after the hike. The first hike I did when I moved to Utah is a fantastic training hike that I can do over the winter, the caveat is I need a State Park Pass so I can’t do it routinely just yet due to no money. Soon though. There’s a good climb in the beginning with a decent flat stretch in the middle, followed by a final climb and the overall elevation gain is great. And it’s absolutely beautiful if you ignore how smoggy the Wasatch Valley is in the higher populated area of the state during the winter (inversion sucks).
(Frary Peak, Antelope Island, Utah)
That’s about it, I’m hoping it works out and if not I can always adjust as I go. I can’t recommend any of it, but if it does work out I can come back to this and say “Hey, this worked out pretty well for me!”. Given my circumstances I absolutely recommend some kind of pre-hike routine if you’re shooting for long distance, it’ll ease the pain/transition into hike-every-day life and could minimize your chances for overuse injuries.