Improve Your Odds Of Finishing A Thru Hike
Do you want to improve your odds of finishing a thru hike? I thought so! No one sets off on a long distance hike with ambitions to abandon their dream hike due to injury. Yet, injuries remain the number one reason hikers quit a long distance hike. Learn my top 3 ways to improve your odds of finishing a thru hike below!
True, injuries are not completely avoidable, however, you can stack the deck in your favor. Setting the stage for a successful hike starts months before you leave, actually. There are three lenses to look through that will bring a successful hike into focus. Physical preparation, quality nutrition, and on trail rehab/recovery. These 3 support one another and give you the best odds of finishing a thru hike healthy and happy. Let’s dive in!
It’s simply not enough to say that you will get in shape on trail. There will be some positive physical adaptations that happen on trail, but your aim is to minimize how much adapation needs to occur by quality training before hand. A better base level of fitness will mean less stress on your body when starting your hike. That means less risk of injury. This is the key!
Training before hand will undoubtedly be the biggest time commitment before you go. This should tell you just how important it is! Understandably, not many of us have the time to hike 15+ miles a day to fully prepare. Therefore, maximizing non-hiking cross training workouts will be needed. You can read more about that here.
Improve Your Nutrition
It’s safe to say that most long hikers are delighted to eat any thing, any time, and just about any where. Picture yourself in the Willy Wonka Chocolate Factory without supervision and you get the idea. Unfortunatly, there is a major downside to that type of diet. Hiker diets are usually void of fiber, protein, good fats and void of quality nutrients and minerals that your body needs to recover. More nutrient rich foods are needed here.
One easy way to add healthy foods into your diet is to pack a bag of spinach out, which will last for days without any issues. Other foods like avocadoes, fresh vegetables and fruits last will for many days and offer tons of fiber and nutrients. Many hard and some soft cheeses pack well also. You might also try packing olive oil, butter (we used a screw top jar to carry ours), coconut oil or pre-packaged olives for healthy fat options.
There are many great companies that offer freeze dried meats, vegetable and sauces that are light weight, nutrient dense and much healthier than traditional hiker offerings. Use a base of cous cous or quinoa and add in the olives, cheese, oil or butter, sun dried tomatoes, spinach, dried fruit, flavored chickpeas, and other spices to keep the cusine from becoming bland the palate. You are really only limted by your creativity here!
Sleep and Recovery
This might be the most overlooked area for ensuring your success on the trail! Sleep is when the body repairs muscle tissue (among other important recovery processes), so it’s vital to get adequate sleep. Make one of your items an inflatable pillow instead of a lumpy stuff sack and it’s sure to become one of your favorite pieces of gear!
This is one of the more critical ways to improve your odds of finishing a thru hike. It’s the best feeling in the world to shed that pack and relax knowing your work for the day is done. However, spending a few minutes massaging tight or sore muscles, and performing some easy yoga moves can yield amazing results. Simple moves to yoga moves like downward facing dog target multiple muscle groups. Here are some of my favorite trail stretches for hikers.
If you’d like to improve your odds of finishing a thru hike, be sure to reach out with any questions. I also offer online personal training to hiker around the globe.