Loc: Nacogdoches, TX, USA
My last backpacking trip was over a year ago, but I've got my next one coming up in a week. Life has been hectic and unorganized. I've known for a long time I had a lot of prep work to do: making/tweaking gear, preping food, packing, and physical training. I've been planning it for a long time, but always seem to make glacial progress on all of this due to other commitments and, frankly, just being exhausted mentally or physically. I'm having to make compromises on gear (again), and I'm okay with that if it gets me out there, but it's just hit me how little time I have to make sure my legs and back are up to it.
I walk almost every day, but it's short distances carrying little weight. My plan is to put in 7-10 miles daily for three days with a total elevation gain of 5689 ft and total elevation loss of 5687 ft. This is all at low elevations, about 1800 ft sea level max. At this point, I'm wondering if it's safe to train to that point in such a short amount of time. I can change my plan if I need to, but if there's a way to get "up to speed", that would be better, even if it means losing some sleep to make time for it.
I know when runners are trying to train for a race in a very short amount of time, they do fartleks (aka "speed work" or "speed play") and then taper the amount of training down to next to nothing the last couple of days, maybe even leave a day of rest between the last workout and the race. So, I'm wondering, what's the backpacking equivelent of a fartlek? I need to come up with a training plan. Luckily, there's a nice urban trail where I live that I can train on. Depending on my exact route (use a loop at the end or backtrack the whole way), it's about 6.6 to 7.5 miles from my house to the end of the trail and back. Here's my tentative idea:
Thu 4/6 - 6.5+ miles with empty pack Fri 4/7 - rest day Sat 4/8 - 6.5+ miles with loaded pack Sun 4/9 - rest day Mon 4/10 - 7.5+ miles with loaded pack Tue 4/11 - rest day Wed 4/12 - 6.5+ miles with loaded pack Thu 4/13 - travel day/no walking Fri 4/14 - first day of backpacking
Those of you with more experience doing focused physical training, does this seem doable, and will it put me where I need to be safely? Do I need to adjust distances, say maybe a lower mileage on the 12th or more miles on the 10th? Should I do fewer rest days, 2 or 3 walking days in a row?
By the way, I'm 5'7", 133lbs and not in horrible shape, but not really in good shape either (desk job, limited recreation time, and admittedly a diet that could be better).
I never "train" with a full pack. It has more to do with my age because I do not want put any excess strain on my knees. Others may not have this issue.
What I have found that sudden intensive "training" with more 2000+ feet of elevation gains, will leave me very sore for about a week. I would never do this immediately before a big trip. If you are not overweight, in reasonable shape, I would just add a little bit of "hills" to your existing walking before the trip.
If you keep to your proposed schedule, where are you getting the time to do 7.5+ miles with a full pack? If you plan on doing this a few hours at 4 mph you may be very stiff and sore after this, and a day's rest will not be sufficient to relieve the pain. On the other hand, if you plan to take a slower pace 2-3 mph, then why not just do an overnight backpack?
I "train" on my first of season backpack trip by going slow the first day and gradually adding miles eacg dat if the actual trip. I expect to suffer a bit at the beginning of the season, and it gets better as the summer goes on.
I also find bicycling better for aerobic workouts, than walking. Over the winter I keep in shape with alternating moderate to easy biking (20 miles) and walking the dog (4 miles). My husband uses a rowing machine.
Great advice from Daisy. Training isn't just a question of seeing if you can do it. It's about slowly building body strength, flexibility and endurance over time. Your she, general fitness, and body weight will absolutely affect all of that.
And the best advice she gave is to take slow at first--both in the training and on the first day of the hike.
Slow and steady. Find a pace that allows you to walk for at least 30 minutes without resting. That's your pace for the whole hike.
If you have to stop more often than that to catch your breath, you're going too fast--no matter what your condition or training regimen.
Loc: Nacogdoches, TX, USA
Both of y'alls' comments help me feel a little better about the distances. However, I will probably end up switching my route anyway, more-so for the likely high water levels than anything, but the alternate also has shorter distances and less elevation change. I've been watching the water gauge in Langley like a hawk and come to the conclusion that it takes about 72 hours straight of no rain to get down to a comfortably safe water level. The hike starts Friday morning, so there would have to be no rain from at least Tuesday morning through Friday afternoon to ford the worst of the crossings.
Loc: Colorado High Plains
Unless I'm missing something, you didn't mention where you're going or what you're doing? How heavy is your loaded pack?
Your training sounds very intense, at least to me, but then I'm leaning toward the elderly side of life. However, by any measure, 5,680 feet of gain and loss in 4 out of 8 days seems like a heck of a lot.
Something you must be careful of if you train too hard, expecially in a short period of time, is that you heighten the risk of injury. With your schedule and depending on your age you might not have time to recover.
At any rate, given that today is the 11th you're all ready in the middle of it. Hope it's working out for you!
I read the post as meaning that the 5680 elevation gain is the total over three days -- not that much. To me that is a moderate amount of daily gain. My issue with training this close to a trip is that whan I do a killer" backpack at the beginning of the season, I am stiff an sore for many days. I would not want to "train" this way and then be stiff and sore on my real trip.
I live in a flat environment so my only aerobic workout in the winters is bicycling. We just do not have enough hills to go up uniless I want to go back and forth 100 times on one puny 200-foot hill! Bicycling is a good way to get the aerobic training without stress on joints. Plus it is fun!
I used to go the to the gym and do th stair-master, which worked but was really boring. If you choose something fun you will do it more regularly.
Loc: Nacogdoches, TX, USA
HPD, I'm going to Caney Creek Wilderness in western Arkansas. My planned route was Eagle Rock Loop, but there has been and will be too much rain for that route, due to the river crossings. We'll likely follow the Caney Creek Trail east bound and return the same way. I haven't finished packing, but for similar trips in the past, my weight has been around 30-35 lbs. IIRC, 35 lbs (maybe a bit more) was the all-up weight including worn clothes, food, fuel, and water, but I'm a little hazy on that now. I'll be hiking with a 12 year old, so I'll be carrying more than if going solo. I'm not worried about his fitness level, but he shouldn't be carrying much weight; it's bad for joint development. My schedule this week has not allowed for training like I'd hoped, and maybe that's a good thing. In any case Caney Creek Trail is much more forgiving.
Loc: San Diego CA
I saw this and, well, thought way too late for my advise. NEXT TIME, get a month of training in 5 weeks in advance, then rest for 4-5 days straight just before your trip to make sure your body has healed up. If you are constantly in training, then you are used to it. If not, you need time to adjust and recover. Most of all, have fun