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Thread: Trail fitness

  1. #1
    Senior Member Triggerhpy's Avatar
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    Thumbs up Trail fitness

    I know that alot of the members here on HF have done thru hikes (AT,PCT,CD) I myself have done week long trips 50+ miles as a younger man.
    with the boy scouts.

    So want do you here on HF do to stay fit?

    Now that I'm in the 50+ club and not as trail worthy as I would like to be.
    Now I'm not planing a thru hike but I do want to get back into hiking trim.
    I am making some life style changes. In my last job I would get up early go to work 6 days a week and come home wiped out. I got stuck in a rut.
    I don't have grand kids yet but when I do I would like to be fit enough to take them camping and hiking.
    On the plus side I live in the mountains and have hiked alot of the local trails.(6500'-9554')
    And I have gear.

    This a long term goal and not just a quick fix.

    Any thoughts,tips where to go on the web?

    Last edited by Triggerhpy; 10-15-2011 at 09:37.
    Tortoise never for a moment stopped, but went on with a slow but steady pace straight to the end of the course.
    Translated by George Fyler Townsend. Aesop's Fables (p. 18). Amazon Digital Services, Inc..

  2. #2
    Senior Member JalapeñoBen's Avatar
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    Get that heart rate going nice 'n steady! If you have a dog, walk it! Hike some of those trails... build a little table and chair and put it somewhere secluded with a good view of the sunrise/sunset, then hike out to it and have some coffee/tea/red wine every once and a while... just stay active and don't overexert yourself too soon. Then again I'm no expert. Some kind of a routine of exercise will help, whether it's getting outdoors or morning treadmill. Could volunteer with the boy scouts as well.
    Pass the Apple Pie

  3. #3
    Senior Member Joey's Avatar
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    Dec 2010
    Western Maryland
    I do a short strength training workout each morning. High reps, 15-20, light weight just to keep toned and my strength up. Then I go for a jog between 3-5 miles for the cardio. I can maintain this 7 days a week without the need for a day of rest, although I do occasionally take a 1 day break. That's mostly because of some life issue, not the need to take a break from the workout.

    At 44 yrs old, I still backpack at 20+ miles regularly. I also like to knock of 12 miles or so by lunch, then stop and sit in the hammock and read a book for the afternoon. It's great to have the endurance and energy to be able to do this with out much fuss.

    I am also blessed with great health. I don't use hiking poles, and my knees are strong for it. I count my strength training as a plus for this as my legs aren't punished, but ready for the task when I hit the trail.

    One week from today I'm heading out on an 8 day 175 mile trek. Keep an eye for my trip report and video. I'll let you know how my strength and cardio training paid off for that!

    Diet is another huge part of it too, but that's a huge subject in itself.

  4. #4
    Senior Member Raul Perez's Avatar
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    Nov 2009
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    I was actually going to do a blog on this relatively soon but I dont know how much it would be received so I've been stand offish on it.

    I'm a very active person and have been my whole life. The only time I took a back seat to being fit was when I studied for my CPA exam. 2 years of reading, mock testing, flash cards, and being a gnome in my room put some pounds on me and left me with a significant amount of muscle loss. BUT I passed all 4 exams on the first shot.

    I digress. My suggestion is really simple... eat better, exercise at the gym or at the very least use some sort of weight training at home. Make that your routine. The hardest part of working out.. is showing up. Once you are there it's too easy!
    "If you give a monkey a gun and he shoots someone, you dont blame the monkey"

    The end of the world is not coming in December, it is happening now in my living room. - TFC Rick

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  5. #5
    Acer's Avatar
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    Jul 2011
    Southern Indiana Wooded Hills
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    I have a job that makes me walk,,sometimes run,,constantly moving on concrete,,in charge of setting trade shows,,i move around alot of miles per day, but,,,I hunt alot too,,and going into deer season now,,will stalk alot of miles as not a stand hunter,,,moving slow up and down ridges,,EATing healthy foods,,no white breads,,no fatty meats all lean types,,,I once bounced up to 190's,,now back down to 170 which is the perfect weight for me..but staying active and off the couch at 61 keeps me in shape,,,if I sit too long I feel it so have to get out and keep moving. Prior to a big trip,,for a month or so,,will put the pack on with 30 lbs in it and hike 5 to 10 miles when I can each week,,working out that way,,I harp at the wife as she doesn't and it sometimes slows us down as she definitely pays the price on the trippin with little workouts..even tho I try and keep her at 20lbs or less including her water. I find I have to workout to stay in shape,,my dad lived to 93 and was always active even played golf till he hit high 80's in age..Stay active,,watch what you eat..stay away from fast foods, sleep good,,and cut out the desserts,,works for me.

  6. #6
    Senior Member Grinder's Avatar
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    Oct 2006
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    there's several levels of fitness involved here.

    My Background:
    I am a former distance runner. I ran 55 mile weeks for years and did 5 marathons in total. My back stiffened up and, in my late forties and early fifties I reluctantly gave up running. It turns out this background gave me no kind of free pass towards hiking.

    First hike, at 65 Years Old, I was grossly under prepared. I had walked quite a bit, but forgot about the pack. I gasped and wheezed up the climbs, was worn to a frazzle in three days and had to shorten my planned distance by half. My aerobic abilities were sadly lacking. My feet killed me. Turned out, my feet had grew a full size. 35 miles is 5 days

    The next year I wore my pack, loaded to estimated weight from the get go. Results that year were better, but aerobics were lacking. (Note: I live in Central Florida, where hills are at a premium. 105 miles in two weeks. I found that climbing the high school stadium for an hour or two seemed to duplicate the stress I found in the real mountains. Unfortunately, increased security at the local high school locked me out at some point during the year

    Third year. Joined a health club. Worked out on step and stair machines three times a week. With my pack, I might add. 135 miles or so. two weeks.
    Still gasping on climbs.

    Fourth year: More of the same. Heavier on the eliptical machine that I was most stressed on. NO pack for this, this year. This year I could climb better, but still had to stop and gasp here and there. I realized this year that the amount of training didn't prepare me to hike all day. I found that I was flagging in the afternoons. The second week was better. near 200 miles in two weeks.

    In summary. You have foot fitness, aerobic fitness and overall daylong endurance. Each must be allowed for. I'm older and found the well meaning advice I got here the first year about planning miles was optimistic for me. YMMV.

    Last edited by Grinder; 10-15-2011 at 08:10.

  7. #7
    MrClean417's Avatar
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    Dec 2010
    Somewhere near Parkville, MO
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    Computer controlled treadmill set on mountain simulation, next time I'll get an elliptical, and 10 pound weights which I need to incorporate more. The mountain setting varies the incline on the treadmill and can go from slight to stair climbing. If I'd spent 50 more bucks, I could have gotten one that allowed me to program varying incline and varying speed but I figured I'd just use my fingers and vary the speed. Anyways, I also have bluffs not far from the house. They're a little steeper then stairs but the important part, which we tend to forget is, they go DOWN as well as up. You MUST practice downhill as well as up, it's a technical skill.

    Unfortunately that's mostly theory though I've started back into it. The past 2 years I've been emergency and semi permanent baby sitter after work and I've suffered for it. Oh for the days of waking up at 5:30, getting a run or gym trip in. Showering and going to work. Now, I get up at 4:30, go straight to work, come home and either get a little work done and go get the grandchild or get a lot of work done and then wait for my boss to get home. And quite frankly, I've been lazy past that. 8:30-9 I'm either in or eying the hammock. However, I've done enough treadmill work that when I went to Oshkosh for a week this year I was all over that place, constantly walking (heck, it was half a mile to the nearest outhouse) and that was no problem. Actually jogged along a tram talking to a guy for a while, with my pack on. It only had raingear, cameras, water, some food, papers and giveaways in it. Couldn't have been 15 pounds. Course, I had one of those big baggable folding chairs strapped on my back too.

    You know, I may be a tub of lard but I got some serious guns underneath me. Come to think of it, we went to the zoo 2 weeks ago and I spent half the 5 hour trip with my 30+ pound gbaby on my shoulders.

    Maybe you all should get one of those Baby or Grandbaby things and work that into your regiment?
    Last edited by MrClean417; 10-15-2011 at 08:55.
    From Somewhere near Parkville, Mo
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  8. #8
    Senior Member FLRider's Avatar
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    Well, my "training" regimen has always been variable.

    I'm a pretty big boy (6' even, and I range from 180 to 200 depending on how much I've been doing that quarter), and I've been working in restaurants since I was seventeen. I've always had a bit of an issue with diet; it's waaaaay too easy to eat crap when you work with such tasty food day-in-and-out. So, I've found ways to ensure that I get good long-duration cardio endurance over the years.

    Currently, my training has me doing three days a week at the gym, for burst power and high-stress aerobic endurance (moderate weight training, up to 125% of my body weight, somewhat similar to a crossfit workout, combined with treadmill running and elliptical machine work), for about two hours. I'm still trying to get the weight back up there on some core muscle groups (for example, despite years of throwing dough at work, I still have difficulty with the overhead press to work my shoulders), but it's slowly coming back. It's the first time I've lifted since high school, and I'm getting the results that I expected thus far.

    Also, I'm getting back up on the bike three days a week (minimum), doing my old standby of thirty-five miles every other day. I was doing this every week up until July (it just gets too hot out here during July and August to be outside), and was all the way down to 180 lbs. Right now, I'm back up to 195, and it's hurting my cardio endurance. I'm fortunate to live close to the Gainesville-Hawthorne Rails-to-Trails Trail, and can use that for long-burn, low-intensity cardio on the bike.

    I also, and don't laugh at me for this, but...well, I occasionally haul out my wife's yoga videos to stretch a couple of times a week. I find that I feel much better at the end of the day if I stretch well before going to bed when I'm on the trail. It also helps with balance and core strength, which are absolutely necessary when doing technical terrain of any sort. I suppose I should try to find a kung fu or tai chi class here in town for that, but I'm chronically short of cash...

    When I'm training for something specific (such as my Ocala hike), I do my level best to train under whatever conditions I expect to encounter. When I was training for that hike, I went out to the San Felasco Hammock Trail, and hiked double loops on it with a thirty-pound pack to train for the Ocala hike at least once a week for the month leading up to my hike. In this way, I managed to ensure that my body could deal with fifteen to sixteen mile days without too much of a problem, though the heat in Ocala was worse than here (you can't duck back into AC out there at the end of the day ) and affected me some.

    So, a combination of flexibility & balance training, strength training with high-intensity cardio included, and low-intensity long-burn cardio is what does it for me. I'm not in the best shape of anyone out there, but I'm in "good enough" shape to be able to do double-digit days on foot and half-centuries on the bike without too much difficulty. That's good enough for me.

  9. #9
    Senior Member TiredFeet's Avatar
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    TeeDee taught me the stair step - best aerobic workout I have ever done. Costs almost nothing.

    Simply make a small step 12"D x 24"L x 10"H. Step up with the left foot, bring the right foot up and then back down, left foot down, step up with the right foot, bring left foot up and then back down, right foot down.

    That's 2 steps


    Work to maintain a step rate of 24 per minute. With a 10" step and a step rate of 24/minute that is the equivalent of climbing a 40 story building in 20 minutes.

    Start easy on yourself with a minute and stay there for a week or more and work up gradually over 6 to 12 months to 20 minute workout.

    We also do morning pushups and chinups for strength training.

    The costliest thing is the stair step - some 2" x 4" and small pieces of 1/2" plywood will do. The pushups don't require any equipment. Fixing a bar at a suitable height for the chinups can be very inexpensive.

    The pushups and chinups are just a few minutes, less than 5. So you only have to schedule the 20 minutes for the stair step. TeeDee found a small childs stool from Rubbermaid which works well for the step and easy to take on trips, even by plane. So we can maintain our routine even on travel except for the chinups.

    Between the stair step and the pushups and chinups for strength training, I no longer have any trouble hiking.

  10. #10
    Member I Splice's Avatar
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    Nov 2008
    San Jose, CA
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    What I've been doing seems to be working fairly well.

    I consider myself in the 60- set. I'm recovering from an ACL replacement in April of this year. Before that I spent about 10 months hobbling around with a torn meniscus. I tore my meniscus while hiking to get into better shape. I was fairly strong but not in good cardiovascular shape. After 10 months of restricted activity I was in worse cardio shape and my legs were pretty weak too.

    After surgery, I had quite a bit of muscle atrophy in my bum leg.

    My troop is preparing for a Philmont trek in 2012 and I promised to be one of the adults, so in addition to just generally getting in shape, I need to be able to keep up with them.

    My philosophy is that you need to work out with intensity. Intensity means some combination of time or effort. Too much intensity and something breaks. Too little intensity and you don't get much in the way of results. I'm big on getting an oxygen debt. That stimulates your body to get better. I do a lot of interval training on the stationary bicycle.

    If you can go all out for 20 seconds, recover for 10 for 8 repetitions you're in Olympic speed skater condition. I'm no where near that - more like 1 minute sprint with a 2 minute recovery. Google the tabata method for more details.

    My current workout is to alternate cardio and strength workouts. For cardio, I do 20 hard minutes on a spinning cycle followed by some yoga, abs, and lunges. For strength, I do 15 hard minutes on a spinning cycle, followed by benchpress, dead lifts, pull downs, seated rows, curls, overhead press, and abs.

    I do light weight on the dead lifts because the quads in my fixed knee aren't very strong and I still have noticeable muscle atrophy. I plan on alternating squats with dead lifts and incorporating snatches and clean-n-jerks as soon as I am able.

    I take about 1 or 2 days a week off either because of my schedule or because I feel like I need an extra day to recover. Some days I take a brisk 6 to 10 mile hike instead of working out in the gym.

    How well is it working? Well my troop took a short, 25 mile backpacking trip 2 weeks ago in rugged terrain. I was able to easily keep up with the Scouts on the flats and the uphills.

    The downhills are another matter. We did a side trip of about 0.8 miles each way with 500+ feet of elevation loss (gain coming back). My legs were pretty shaky when we got to the bottom and my legs were really tired after the climb out but other than being tired, I was able to hike reasonably quickly.

    Overall, I'm pretty happy. My weight is down to about 243 from about 254 at my peak. My legs still need to get stronger so that I can do the downhills better but I'm working on that.

    Take some inspiration from Clarence Bass [] Clarence Bass works out twice a week at 70+. He does cardio on one workout and strength on the other. Twice a week wasn't enough for me and sometimes I do more than one set. He provides a lot of information on his web site.

    Note that it takes a lot of self-discipline to do intervals, so it's not for everyone. I've got a few decades of practice of working myself hard. I played football for a couple of years in college; until I had to quit to get a job.

    I used to be an Owl, and a good old Owl too
    But now I'm getting hungry and I don't what to do
    I've eaten beaver, bob white, and Antelope too
    But I've got a fyin' pan and I'll catch a staffer if can

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