Thursday, January 29, 2015

PCT Training

I'm Uncomfortable....
Thru-hiking is tough on your body and while many argue that the only way to prepare your body for a thru-hike is to thru-hike, I disagree. The degree of pain and discomfort I went through on the AT is a testament to how ridiculous I believe this paradigm of thought to be.  Yes, I successfully finished the AT, but I think it could have been a lot more enjoyable in the beginning had I been better prepared. Let's face it; most of us spend the majority of the day sitting, and maybe an hour or two exercising, 3-5 days a week. Admittedly, I barely even meet this typical standard. Before starting the AT in 2009 I was a graduate student consumed with research papers, classes, and field work. I was struggling to keep my head above water and working out was not a priority until six months before I left for my journey to Maine. Transitioning from this typical lifestyle to walking 20+ miles a day with roughly 30 lbs. on my back is a rough adjustment. I've come to believe that the fitter and healthier you are before starting your hike the easier time you will have adjusting to trail life.

I am not an expert in personal training. I just know what didn't work for me in the past, and I'm using that knowledge help me better prepare for hiking the PCT. Thru-hiking the AT changed my life in many ways one of which was becoming a fitter, healthier person in my off-trail life. Now, I workout rather regularly and I'm lucky enough to live in some beautiful mountains which provides ample opportunity to hike. My current job also requires me to be on my feet 8-12 hours a day, 5-6 days a week. As a result, I'm already use to being on my feet for long periods of time which will make it easier to transition to a life of walking northward everyday.

When I'm not living on the trail I spend a lot of time in the gym. I do total body strength training 2-3 days a week, as well as cardio 2-3 days a week. About three months prior to leaving I spend my non-gym days out hiking (weather & personal health permitting) with my fully loaded backpack and put in 6-10 miles once to twice a week and do one long hike a week of 10+ miles a week. I'm currently striving to increase my long hikes every week by 2-3 miles so that before I leave I will have hiked a few 20+ miles days on terrain similar to that of the PCT with my pack on.

Thru-hiking hurts. There will be sore legs, possible blisters, and definite ass-chafing. There will also be incredible rewards, plenty of laughter (mostly at myself I'm sure), and lots, and lots of eating whatever I want. My training plan isn't a perfect substitute for thru-hiking but it's a start to creating some unforgettable (and less pain filled) memories.

You can also follow me on Twitter and Instagram. More photos will be uploaded to my Smugmug Site when possible. I'm hiking with Cori "Grommet" Holladay. You can read her blog here.


  1. Excellent post, I'm glad to see you doing this preparation. I too did preparation before thru-hiking the trail this past year, and found it very useful at the beginning by allowing me to have little to no ramp up of miles without blisters and other ailments. Keep it up! Sincerely, Tartan PCT 2014