How to Prep for Your Toughest Hike

One major facet of the outdoors, and one of the main reasons I enjoy hiking so much, is the challenge of pushing yourself to achieve a goal. Some avid hikers purposely look for some of the most challenging hikes in the world to embark upon, solely for this reason. I, myself, took on a very challenging trail along the Bruce Peninsula last summer for that reason. Preparing for the tough hikes requires a bit of training—both physically and mentally—and I’ve provided you with some tips today to help you get ready for your toughest hike yet.

For your longest hike to date, you’ll want to prepare by increasing your weekly mileage during the months prior to your trip. Also, a few weeks before your trip, you should take a long day hike that equals out to roughly 80-percent of your planned trip. Of course, you’ll want to wear the footwear you’ll be wearing on your trip, as well. Mentally, it’s helpful to set short-term goals that allow you to reward yourself with a snack or a rest after each one it met.

If the hike you’re planning is to be your steepest ever, it’s crucial to improve your cardio and leg strength beforehand by using an inclined treadmill for at least a half hour a few times a week, or running repeats up and down stairs. It’s easy to become more overwhelmed with climbs on the trail when you’re tired or cranky, so it’s important to stay energized, stay positive, and focus on the trail right at your feet, instead of the top of the hill ahead of you.

Some of the world’s toughest trails take you to new heights, in more ways than one. If your hiking aspirations involve high hikes, improving your balance and descent movements can be achieved with core and lower body training. With a pack, practice squats, step-ups, and walking lunges to prepare for this. Also, high altitudes can drain you in many ways. To counter this, set a schedule to eat and drink hourly, limit your breaks to ten minutes, and stick to your planned time.

You can’t step out onto the starting line of the Boston Marathon without going for a jog or two beforehand, right? So then why would you take on some of the toughest trails this world has to offer without training first? The tips outlined above will get you started on the right foot and you’ll be well on your way to accomplishing any hiking goal you set for yourself.