Inexperience can be a big hindrance when hiking. More often than not, our enthusiasm and eagerness to hit the trail, especially on the first few trips, causes us to start off too fast, get tired quickly, take an early rest, and then start off too fast again. This is where developing a rhythm is key. The combination of a hiking rhythm, good walking speed and fixed intervals of rest is the thing that separates beginners from avid hikers. Here are some tips on why rhythm is so important on the trail and how to develop your own.
There are several benefits of developing your own rhythm on the trail. Establishing a steady hiking rhythm will enable you to stick to a fixed schedule of breaks, rather than having to break every time you run out of breath or get sore. Furthermore, knowing your own hiking rhythm and speed will help you better plan your future hikes. A hiking rhythm will also lessen the strain on your body. Changing gear constantly throughout a hike is much more tiring than staying at a constant intensity level. Moreover, maintaining that hiking rhythm will leave you less tired at the end of the day.
Due to the fact that our bodies work differently, your own rhythm will differ from someone else’s, and it will take time to develop it. You start the process by walking at a certain stride and speed and sticking to it. A good rhythm will allow you to hike at the same intensity level for at least one hour without having to take a break. Make sure your entire body is involved by matching your breathing and the swing of your arms with your rhythm.
Make sure not to interrupt your rhythm unless it is absolutely necessary. Minor obstacles, such as logs or streams, should not have an effect on your overall rhythm. You may, however, need to adjust your rhythm to match the terrain, weather conditions, or the amount of weight you are carrying. For instance, uneven surfaces such as uphill and downhill slopes can make it difficult to maintain your rhythm. You could try to keep the same rhythm and adjust your stride, but this can be difficult unless you’re able to keep at the new rhythm and adapt to it quickly while remaining at the same physical intensity level.
It will take a few trips to the trail for you to fully develop and learn to maintain a hiking rhythm that suits you, but taking the time to do so will be worth it in the long run. Not only will this keep you focused while hiking, but you’ll discover you can hike longer and feel better when you maintain a steady rhythm.