I posted a poll on my hiking group FB page last week and one of the statements was "I'm not in shape" as a response to the question: Why don't you join in on these hikes? or something like that.
The sad thing is, most people who think they are not in shape to hike, really are in shape to hike.
In fact, hiking...depending on what kind of hiking you are doing, can be done by just about anyone who has received the "all clear" from their doctor (meaning you have had no serious illnesses in the weeks leading up to the hike and/or you have had a normal physical and are ambulatory). Yes, if you are obese or have a serious illness, you will have a tougher time. If you are a smoker or heavy drinker, you will have a much harder time, the higher in elevation you go. Those are just facts.
Some things to keep in mind the week before you do a hike:
- Eat healthy! Skip the processed, junk foods and opt for real foods....foods from plants and whole grains are best.
- Drink plenty of fluids like water, sparkling waters, fruit juices without a lot of sugar. My favorite beverage is water with lemon or orange slices. Limit the amount of coffee you drink on the morning of a hike.
- Stretch your back and leg muscles. Do simple exercises like leg lifts, fitness ball stretches for the back, walking. I do step aerobics throughout the week before a hike as well as power walk around my neighborhood. Do something that works your back and leg muscles.
- Buy a box of moleskin to keep in your backpack to prevent blisters on your feet. I rarely use mine but when I do it feels so good!! You can tuck a piece right into your sock for your heels or toes.
- Get plenty of sleep the night before a hike. I tend to sleep between 6 1/2 and 7 hours a night. Do what is best for you. Keep in mind that most hikers are out the door by 7:30 am. to get to the destination.
- If you belong to a gym, try doing some workouts on the treadmill and set it to incline or on the elliptical. This is a great way to work the muscles you will be using for a hike. OR go for a good bike ride.
- Be positive! A hike is fun for people who love the outdoors and all that God has created.
I began officially hiking at the age of 17. I climbed Giant Mountain which is a High Peak. Before that amazing day in August of 1977, I was just a woods walker....walking the trails my dad had built on our property at our summer camp in the southern Adirondacks. During my college years, I rarely had the chance to hike due to college, living out in western NY where there are NO mountains, and working summer jobs. Once I got out to grad school and the Capital District area, I began to hike again. I started out with relatively flat trails and worked my way up to small mountains. After I
aquired lyme disease (at the beginning of starting the ADK Firetower challenge) I was a bit "down". I had to really face the fact that for 2 summers I could not hike. That was tough. But I worked up to it again and 11 years later, finished the Challenge on Labor Day, 2015!! I have hiked while dealing with a slipped disc, osteopenia and plantar fasciitis (I don't recommend that one...I was being stupid). But....
If I can do it, you can do it. My husband had a heart attack in Sept of 2014 and by May of 2015 he was hiking again! We give glory to God for that one!!
|Dave on Hunter Mountain (Catskills), a High Peak|
just 8 months after his heart attack
When you DO sign up for a hike keep this in mind:
- don't be afraid to tell the leader you need to slow down. Everyone needs to go their own pace, yet keep within vision of each other (for safety purposes). It is ok to be going slower. You don't want to get winded because then you will run out of energy.
- Take water breaks. OFTEN! One thing I have learned is to walk with my water bottle in my hand if the trail is relatively flat. That way I am not stopping as much to drink. Keep the rest stops for when absolutely necessary, yet keep your own pace to be comfortable!
- Make sure you have a nutritious protein snack on the trail. Something like granola with walnuts, almonds, peanuts, raisins, banana or pineapple chips. Also, a piece of fresh fruit really helps. In a later post, I will be sharing about what kinds of lunches to bring on a hike.
- don't be afraid of "making a mistake" but do use common sense. If you are getting winded or out of breath, simply tell someone and SIT DOWN. drink some water, eat a snack, breathe slowly and deeply. Stretch your back/leg muscles.
- If you can't make it up the summit, there is NO shame in that!! Simply tell the leader you don't think you are going to make it. do NOT attempt to go back down the trail by yourself. Sit and wait!!
Most of all, have fun! Get ready for mountain trails by exploring some of the local trails around the Capital Region: Peebles Island State Park has the outer trail that includes a small incline. Lisha Kill Nature Preserve and Indian Kill Preserve also have hilly trails to practice on. Check out Vrooman's Nose for an idea of what "steep" is like without it being more than a mile. Power walk the Colonie-Mohawk River bike trail to get those leg muscles moving. Take a run or power walk along the Hudson River bike path for the same reasons. There are plenty of nature preserves in our area.
Hope to see some of you are on our Spring and Summer Sojourns!!
|on the fire tower of Mt Adams,|
High Peaks area of the Adirondacks
Labor Day 2015