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RE: [pct-l] Training

Hi PCTers!

Dave Gomberg asked:
> How best to train?
> I am planning to address the following issues in training:
>  Leg muscle condition:   Walk up to 60 mi. / week in training
>  Back muscles:  Carry 30# pack while training
>  Ankle strength:  Walk some of training on sand (6-12 mile segments)
>  Upper body warmth:  Calisthentics for upper body while training
>  Foot condition:  Wear shoes to be used on trip
>  Hill climbing muscles:  Training walks to include hills (500-2500')
>  Walking off pavement:  Hill climbs on rougher trails
> I realize I have not addressed altitude training, but I am not sure I
> know
> how to do that.  I did Whitney from 12,500 overnight without altitude
> sickness, so I hope I am safe on that count.  
Don't worry about high altitude.  By the time you get to the Sierra
you'll be so strong you'll wonder why the weekenders are having such a
hard time ;-)

General conditioning is very important.   Some people arrive in Campo
planning to hike themselves into shape.  This is a bad idea.  The PCT
starts out in the "desert."  The slower you hike between water spots,
the more you have to carry.  You'll be wanting to keep up with the other
thru hikers you meet.  And no matter how well trained you think you are,
you'll struggle getting to thru hiker shape.  So, if you're not in good
enough shape, arrive early, take it easy, and hope for the best. But
it's better to get in shape now.

Running is far better than nothing, but you need low-intensity, long
duration training.  Yes, getting up a big hill is tough, but the real
challenge of thru hiking is the high mileage.  You would be better
served by one 20-mile hike per week than by a short run every day.  One
month before my hike I was able to carry a full pack on 2 consecutive
15+ mile hikes each weekend without undo effort.  I chose 2,500' climbs
too.  The last few weeks were so hectic that I didn't have that kind of
time anymore, but the rest probably did some good too.  I did find time
for several short runs each week.  The first day on the trail I only
made 15 of  the recommended 20 miles, so I should have been in better
shape.  I also struggled with blisters for the first week.

Prepare for the heat if you can.  Yeah, I know it's still winter out
there, but seek out the hottest conditions you can find from now 'till
D-day.  More people complained about being unprepared for the heat than
for the mileage.  One of the hottest, driest segments starts just 78.1
miles into your trip, the 23.8 waterless miles over the San Felipe hills
to Barrel Spring.  Do your best to be prepared.

If you plan to wear running shoes, get your ankles in shape.  Ligaments
take much longer than muscles to adapt.  If they're not already very
tough, you'll probably sprain an ankle on the PCT. (or worse, tear
ligaments)  Ankle training takes many months.  Those of you going in
running shoes should already be several months into your ankle training.
If in doubt, wear boots.  I was able to average 25-30 miles per day in
Oregon in light hiking boots.

Brian Robinson
PCT '97
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