Most people think of day hikes as a form of exercise and not an activity you need to prepare for, and if you’re hiking only a few miles over easy terrain that may be true. However, if you’re hiking more than a mile or two over steep, rocky, or unpredictable terrain then you should be preparing your body for the hike to keep yourself and everyone hiking with you safe.
That may seem like an easy task, but if you want to comfortably walk 5 miles or longer in a day then you need to take specific steps to make sure you’re up to the task. To help you prepare, the ASO Mammoth team has put together a list of fitness tips for day hikers to help increase the range and frequency of hikes available to them. Check it out below!
Stretch Before and After Your Hikes
It’s no surprise that stretching before your hike is a good idea, but do you know how valuable stretching after your hike is?
Before your hike you should engage your muscles with dynamic stretching. While there are several different dynamic stretches you can use before your hike, the focus should always be on putting your muscles and joints through their full range of motion. If you do so, your body will be better balanced and less-injury prone once you step on the trail.
After your hike you should use static stretching to relax sore muscles. Doing so will jumpstart the recovery process for your muscles by preventing stiffness and increasing your overall flexibility. Plus, using static stretching to cool down before you get in the car and drive home is a great break for your mind too!
Don’t Rush your Training
Long day hikes are a marathon and not a sprint, and so is preparing for them.
The last thing you want to do is to put off training for your hike and then try and squeeze all your training into the week before. Not only will you wear yourself out during the week, but you’ll be sore, tired, and unprepared for the actual hike. The best way to train for your hike is over a long period of time where you can rest between training hikes and sessions to avoid injuries on and off the trail.
Start with a short walk every day to create a habit and build upon your training routine from there. Rest and stretch a few days beforehand and you’ll be in great shape to complete your hike!
Break in Your Shoes
If your long-distance day hike requires you to use new shoes, then you must prepare them for use just like you would with your body.
Do not unbox your shoes for the first time on the day of your hike. Not only will you most likely not be able to hike more than a few miles, but you won’t be able to hike for days after due to blisters and sore feet. Make breaking in your shoes a part of your training routine by wearing them on walks around the neighborhood, on the treadmill, and practice hikes so they fit like a glove by the day of your hike.
Work on your Core
Like cardio exercise, strength training is an excellent way to prepare for long day hikes. The key piece of your ability to balance and move is your core, so strengthening your core with exercises like planks will pay off big time on the trail.