We here at ASCEND believe everyone has got what it takes to climb the mountains that they set their sites on.
The trick is: you got to want it.
Sorry to be the bearer of bad news here, but just because we believe you are capable of climbing mountains, doesn't mean that it just magically happens. With anything in life, any goals, any accomplishments -- you've got to put in the work.
Don't let this stress you out though! This is honestly the best part of your prep for the hiking trails! This is the part of the backpacking preparation that lets you put thought into action, and believe me, there is no better medicine for worry, stress or fear than right-action and taking the next step (HA! Get it? The next step?! Cuz we'll be taking lots of steps.... ah, okay, moving right along).
So, without further adieu here is the ASCEND Holistic Hiking Tour:
"How to Train for a Hiking Trip" Crash Course
I'm ready! Are you ready? Of course you are! Let's do this thing!
1. Mental Preparation
So much about multi-day backpacking trips has to do with our own mental conviction to the activity. No joke.
Sometimes I think people don't believe me when I say this -- but you get to choose what this experience is going to be like. There will be uncontrollable variables (weather, wildlife, blisters etc.), the best thing that we can do as hikers is make peace with what we cannot control.
There is something meditative about hiking. You are alone with your breath, your mind and your body. The hills will ascend and descend, the terrain will become forgiving and more technical. But still our breath will come in and flow out.
It is our decision whether we will sit down out of frustration and exhaustion or slow our walk so as to keep moving towards our goal at a pace that is in line with where we're at.
I include Mental Preparation for Hiking as the first point on this training list because while I was tree planting throughout Northern British Columbia and the coast, this was the first thing that needed to be adjusted in order to enjoy running up and down mountains for ten hours a day.
On the days that I told myself "this is terrible" or "my back hurts", "my leg hurts so bad" over and over again -- well, those were the days that were hard. Those were the days that there were tears.
When I made the decision to smile at the grass that brushed against my face or say "wow, that's so beautiful" when I noticed a flower, mountain view, cloud or thought -- those were the days that could not be tarnished.
Did the workload somehow change? Of course not, the work stayed the same. Did the days become easier? Absolutely.
Because I knew what I had signed up for. I knew that there were going to be up's and down's. So I chose to adjust my attitude. This is not always the easiest, it is absolutely a practice. But I do believe that it is the first step towards training yourself for a big hike.
2. Fitness Training
I don't think I need to tell you that I would be lying if I said that backpacking is 100% a mental game.
We will be loading up everything we need for three to five days onto our backs and bringing it with us, up, down and all around the mountainside.
So....here are some workout inspirations to help that booty get ready for that backpack.
Fill a your backpack with rocks
...and then take a hike!
It is exactly what it sounds like. You're essentially getting used to carrying weight. If you don't have access to rocks (or don't want to get your bag dirty), canned foods will also work just fine! Start where you feel comfortable, there doesn't even have to be an incline to begin with, it doesn't even have to be out of the city. Just put some weight on your back and start walking.
Use a Fitbit or some other method of tracking your distance.
This is a hike you are training for. Not a half marathon, not a triathlon. All you need to do is start going out for a walk.
Increase your distance by a little bit each day. Half a kilometre more. 1000 more steps.
And when you've maxed out on the time you have available and can't increase anymore distance -- increase the weight in your bag. One more rock. One more can of soup.
Target your Glutes & Increase your Stability
Leaving this recommendation to the experts.
Gore-tex Brand has published an excellent article called "ULTIMATE HIKING WORKOUT: 6 BEST TRAINING EXERCISES FOR HIKING"
I see no point in re-inventing the wheel here. If you are someone who loves the gym, or would prefer to prepare while training at a gym, these exercises are the ones to go for. Placing an emphasis on core development, stabilizing the knees and legs, cardio endurance and back-body strength, this is the workout you want in preparation for your hiking adventure.
That's it for now, we will be putting together a detailed regiment that you can follow working in collaboration with a surprise local Fitness Trainer!
While you're getting ready for the trails, just remember, every bit is worth it, and every bit is good enough! You cannot do this wrong and once you get out there -- you will be so surprised at what you're capable of!
I know people who have shown up for ten day treks after only two days of training over the course of two months. I'm not gonna pretend that it was pretty. They definitely mentioned more than once than they wished they had gone for a few more walks leading up to the hike. But guess what, they did it.
And you will too.