When trying to get fit or in shape for something big, training doesn’t end. Reaching one goal does not mean that I am in shape for all the next goals. This year, I messed up and I knew it – I went into this season’s hikes knowing that I did little to prepare for it. Yes, I was in better shape than I was two years ago, but I was not in as good of shape as I should have been or as good as I was at the end of last season. This was made evident on my three day hike that mercifully turned into a two day hike. We did two miles on the first day carrying a 37 lb pack. I felt invigorate. I was ready for this. However, the next day I quickly learned I was not ready. This happened again three weeks later when I went to go on a four day hike that again turned into a two day trip. Since these trips I learned that I also have health issues that need to be taken care of. So, it is time to take care of myself and to go back to training.
What I have been told is that the best training for hiking and backpacking is to hike. This is true. We cannot build the muscles needed doing other exercises. But the other exercises do help in making us stronger all around, have better duration/stamina, and keep us going.
Exercising is not all there is to training either. We need to eat right the entire time we are in training. Eating right just before the trip might help, but we won’t be in top condition. We have to make our bodies as healthy as we can because the strenuous days we put our bodies through deplete it of its stores quickly. Many thru-hikers come to the end of the trail looking emaciated. This comes from the hard days as well as from not getting enough calories on the trail and from not being is the best condition as possible.
I am learning to exercise regularly and to eat better, but every day is a new day and a new challenge. There are days like today where everything seemed to work against me, and here at 10pm, I am writing and still need to exercise. Then there are the great days where I can get right out there and hike and create an article in my mind. I like those days. But I get up each day, tell myself I am in training, and get after it.
I do various exercises and yoga positions, my physical therapist recommended for my back and legs, for an hour and a half before eating breakfast. Breakfast is easy – it’s the only meal I can eat the same thing every day. I like a cereal (hot or cold) with peanut butter or almonds, fruit, and almond milk. Lunch gets hectic, but I usually can maintain a healthy balance and same with dinner; however, I struggle with the snacks between lunch and dinner and beyond. I struggle the same with the additional exercising. I want to hike or do yoga or even do weights, but I have to get somewhere, grade, or even clean house. So, for those days, I dance while I am on the phone, hula hoop while watching TV just before bed, work hard in my garden, and take extra steps while cleaning my house. It isn’t good enough, but at this point, it is something. And, every day I am happy that I did the best I could for the day.