You’d be surprised how easy this looks for you if you are a regular hiker. Or if you are in shape. But for me, back in 2001 my first hike was not funny at all. So here’s a breakdown how I prepared for what seems to be a pretty easy hike. And it took me almost half a year to do so. Yes I know, I was lazy back then.
The short version of the story why: it took me 3,5 hours to hike a 2 hours route, and that was unacceptable for my competitive soul. So I had to put myself together and do something about it.
Since I didn’t really have the budget for a personal trainer back then I decided just to rely on my guts and do what I can to get myself in better shape.
The End of Slow Pete
What did I know then? I knew that I need to hike a little bit more than 2 miles with elevation of cca 2,000 feet and that I have to carry a bag packed for stuff for 2 days in a Cottage (next step would be 3 days in the wild, but that’s a different story).
So, with my beer belly and bad smoking habit – that I dropped in the meantime (yay!) – this looked like David vs Goliath. Mountain Cottage full of beer being the Goliath. Oh, the irony.
Anyway. I hit the gym 2 times a week. For 6 months. And that’s it? Well, basically yes. But there is also more to it.
I didn’t want to build muscles. I already had the ‘mass’. What I wanted was to change my fluffy muscles from fat to strong and iron-man style (love that movie with Robert Downey Jr.) but most importantly, I wanted to be able to walk up the mountain for 2 hours straight with full winter gear and a full 20 pounds backpack that I wanted to carry.
For that, I decided to run. To run a lot. Both outside and on treadmill.
Little did I know back then, but what I actually did do from my own gut feeling, was some kind of HIIT training. And if you do read a little about getting in shape and getting fitter, you’ll find that hiit is basically the real deal for getting good muscles, strong muscles, and endurance too.
You see… Marathon like training will thin you to starvation weight which I didn’t want to do (and I couldn’t, since I’m a stubborn son-of-a-bitch and still drink beer after running). I needed something else.
And that’s where you realise HIIT will kick your butt and melt fat and make muscles and give you more stamina and you’d basically be able to do that next hike or run without problems. Now what I did is by no mean the real HIIT training but it does share some things with it… anyway, this is how I would do it back then:
The First Two Months
After the first couple of weeks where I was really really slow and out of shape, when I got into a little routine I was only able to “run” for 30 minutes. I mean, I could have done more but time is of importance here too, so I decided somehow 30 minutes should be enough.
I warmed up only 3-4 minutes at a pace that is not running yet but rather fast walk. And then I’d just put on the interval training on the treadmill which meant 2 or 3 minutes running at speed of around 8 km/h (5 mph), and then walking for 1 minute at speed of 3,5-4 kmh (2,2 mph).
After 6 of those (that’s 4 min x 6 times = 24 minutes) I was sweating like a pig, feeling exhausted but happy, and also feeling better from day to day.
The best part of it, you can easily do this at home as well. Check our writing on the best treadmill under $1000 and choose your “weapon of fat-mass destruction”. 🙂 Seriously. Treadmill can save your life, at least I like to believe running saved mine, and I really mean it. We hear way too much horror stories of worn out people losing it out there because of fat, stress, whatever the reason. Running can help eliminate all that.
Next Four Months
After the initial 30 minute of my own personal HIIT and 2 months have passed I already felt better and stronger and could run without feeling I am spitting my guts out. But I knew I needed something more if I want to be able to do it for 2 hour straight. So, I doubled my time. Not at once, week after week I was adding as much time as I could. 5 minutes. 10 minutes. So at first I went up to 40 min, then to 50 and finally to my 60 min goal trainings on treadmill. As crazy as it sounds, it really made me a happier person.
The setup was similar, however sometimes I was increasing the incline of the treadmill in order to emulate walking up the path. ‘Cause it just ain’t the same as walking on horizontal ground. And if you ever tried running for 5 minutes straight with incline of 5-6-7% you must know the feeling of blessed divine love when the treadmill gets you down to 0%. You literally feel like you are running on clouds.
And all the time, of course, I did some weightlifting to get a little better muscles on my arms, chest and was dreaming about sixpack abs which were utopia, but I still did some exercise to try and strengthen my beer belly.
If you are out of shape, this kind of exercise will get you in shape enough to be able to do the hike. I know you’re probably busy – who isn’t – so gym time is a luxury, but still you could spare 1-2 hours a week for it.
Even once a week is enough (but I’d still recommend 2 times), and if nothing else, you won’t need to be embarrassed in front of all your friends who are like, 18 times faster than you are!
Now let’s see some other useful preparation stuff for hiking tours:
For safety and precaution try this article, and for ultimate survival we got you covered too.