I guess there are many ways to skin a cat. Perhaps there are many ways to train for a thru hike. Being a prudent, somewhat planning (read anxious) individual over the age of 30 and NOT a marathon runner, the idea of training is more for self-soothing and to mitigate the risk of injury later on. No one need a gummy ankle or knee or hip. Before you go any further in my blog though, you need to read this blog on physical training for TA.
Seriously. Read that blog. You do not need to read my blog any further. Except if you want some more anecdotal evidence. It is working. Doing a heavy weight session and then two days time doing a lighter repetition session, interspersed with cardio and hiking is actually working. Admittedly the last couple of weeks I've had a few more rest days than I would like but this is what my week (3 weeks out from New Zealand and tramping) looks like:
Saturday/Sunday - hike with at least 12kg.
Monday - rest day.
Tuesday - heavy weight day (maximum weight; 1-5 reps).
Wednesday - aerobic exercise (run/walk).
Thursday - endurance weight day (40-60% max weight; 3 x 15-20 reps).
Friday - aerobic exercise (run/walk).
And then the hiking. That's the nice part:
This is the path of the Grand Canyon, in the Blue Mountains, Australia. Looking at some of my photos just now some diverse settings have certainly hosted my training. Indeed, this one is from a training endurance hike near Witses Hut in Northern Kosciuszko National Park:
Or this one from a day hike training up Stockyard Spur in the ACT (so much altitude gain and descent; so steep):
But what about the rest of it? Doing the training hikes - both the overnight and day hikes - gives an opportunity to take stock of eating habits and gear. The craving for junk food diminishes. I'm trying to get used to eating more fats and proteins and not carrying as much food with me as I used to. I will also be stop drinking coffee from now on (one less thing to think about while on the trail). I've been finding the last strategy difficult to keep. Oh well, something else to work on.
I have been preparing for Te Araroa or TA physically for 6 weeks now and I will post about that later. But I wanted to focus today on preparing for a thru hike mentally.
First I will share something ... despite those photos on Instagram I am super scared about TA. I find being in the wilderness at times filling with dread. There is no other word - dread. There I have said it. Particularly when I am on my own, eating dinner, it’s dark and so quiet! The idea of spending 60 days of this fills me with a little heart flutter.
For example when I took this photo at Witses Hut at northern Kosciuzscko National Park ...
the dread was already creeping in. Look there are brumbies and everything!
But you know the next day I actually felt more comfortable. The next day ... sleep on it, make a cup of tea - those are some truisms that actually work.
So I thought about how to prepare for my own mental health while thru-hiking?
The kind of issues I brainstormed were things like the negative spiralling that sets in dread, boredom, consistent pain, loneliness, lack of direction, fatigue etc...
The kind of remedies were keeping a blog, listening to audiobooks, downloading music, learning a language (yep Japanese for me!), literally having a list of friends I can contact on the trail, and having a mascot - hello wombassador.
Please feel free to share your thoughts on being mentally resilient on a thru-hike. I am here to learn from you!