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Topic: Beginner backpacker training< Next Oldest | Next Newest >
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DellWilson Search for posts by this member.

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PostIcon Posted on: Apr. 21 2014, 12:44 pm  Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Hi y'all,

As the topic title suggests, I'm a beginner backpacker, but that is not the complete picture. I'm 50 years old and a very experienced cyclist who has been bike commuting full time for the last five years. During the summer, I'll ride 400-600 miles per month. In the last year, I've gotten into running to keep my fitness up during business travel and when the weather is bad (as it has been during this past winter and spring). I found it quite easy to work up to half marathon distances.

One of the younger guys in my department and I have a Grand Canyon (rim-to-rim-to-rim) hike planned for next month. To train for this hike, I've been doing a lot of running, stair climber, and core exercises. This past Saturday, we went on a training hike in the Smoky Mountains. From Cades Cove, TN, we climbed to the summit of Thunderhead and back in a day hike. I was carrying almost everything I intend to carry at the GC minus about two pounds of food. With 3L of water and one day of food, my pack was about 20 pounds. The hike was 13.9 miles out and back with 3665 feet of ascent. The hike took us 7 hours total; 4 hours for the ascent, 30 mins for lunch and breaks; and 3 hours for the descent.

I found my aerobic conditioning to be fine. On the climbs, I never redlined even while leaving my 35 year-old hiking partner behind. (He was much faster on the descents than me.) I do have two problem areas that I'd like to improve.

First, by the end of this hike, my feet felt like they had been pounded by a meat tenderizer for 7 hours. I'm not sure if any advice can help me other than looking for better insoles (which I certainly plan to do).

Second, my quads are very sore two days later. That's confusing to me since cycling is all quads and calves. If anyone can point me to some exercises to better prepare my quads for backpacking, I'd appreciate it.

Thanks for reading, y'all.
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ol-zeke Search for posts by this member.
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PostIcon Posted on: Apr. 21 2014, 2:44 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Get a set of trekking poles.  Your knees will like you  much more.  The downhill is much different on the quads than anything a bike does.  I bike 500-600 miles every month, and the uphill is easier since I started the bike routine.  At 62, the knees appreciate the aid of the sticks, especially on the down side.

The best training for hiking up and down hills is hiking up and down hills.  Sorry, but that is the only thing I know.  At least, with hiking around your area with a loaded pack, the pack will not feel odd, or too heavy.

Better insoles, and lightening up my shoes, addressed my own problems with my feet.  Additional space at the end of the foot box kept me from hitting the end with every down step.  Allowed me to keep my toenails.

I have hiked many trails, and many weeks, in the GC.  I find that my time uphill is slightly slower than my time downhill.  Last climb up S. Kaibab took a little over 5 hours, so I may be slower than you.  

3L of water would be my minimum for up S. Kaibab.  I arrived at the top with nearly 1 L of water last time, so I could have done it with 2, but we left BA campground at 5 AM.  Missed the worst of the heat that way.  Might be OK with 2L down SK, or on the N. Kaibab section you are hiking.  There is water along the N side, thankfully.  May will be hot.  I wish you and your hiking friend the best of luck.


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mocamper1 Search for posts by this member.

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PostIcon Posted on: Apr. 22 2014, 9:42 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I concur with ol-zeke: get trekking poles! They will help in every aspect of hiking.

Also, hiking works different muscles and muscles differently than biking does. That will explain the sore quads.  Keep up the training hikes and you'll get used to it.  I suggest doing some strength work for carrying loads like squats or lunges.

Check out this site: Mountain Athlete. They have various plans that might be suited to your needs. The Peakbagger Training Plan and the Backpacker Preseason Training Plan come to mind. If not, check out the FAQs on the site for ideas and suggestions. I've used their products on the Military Athlete side with great results.

As far as your feet go, make sure your boots are broken in properly and you have good socks.

Good luck! Let us know how it goes.


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SPeacock Search for posts by this member.

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PostIcon Posted on: Apr. 22 2014, 11:19 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Tendon, bone and other tissues respond to stress by becoming stronger and less sensitive to pounding.  It takes significant time to 'toughen' those pieces.

You mention you run (daily?).  Have you ever spent 7+ hours doing it.  I'm guessing your feet (and all the parts connected) just were not quite prepared for a 13 mile hike carrying 20 extra pounds, on an uneven trail with lots of foot movement to maintain balance stepping up and especially making a fast descent.  Proper fitting footwear and insoles will go a long way to helping but I know of some who can do that barefoot.  They didn't do that the first day however.

I agree with above that the muscles developed for cycle/running are different from uneven stairs. Especially when done for hour after hour.  Surprising you can still walk considering you made at least 14,000 foot prints. :).  Sounds like you over stressed a significant part of your muscle tissue.  Any pain that lasts longer than 24 hours is a concern that you have done too much too soon.  This is especially true of 'late onset pain'...more than 24 hours later.  

Very little of a trail is a straight forward place where a foot moves forward unimpeded as in running or cycling.  Certainly the GC will not be, especially when you take a big pounding right off going down hill - bad news for most.  Couple of exercises for the quads follows while you are pounding the streets/grass and is best done walking.  As usual work up to longer than a few minutes -- with out a back pack on.

First one:  Long legged models do this for a living in 5 inch heels. On an imaginary line that stretches out in front of you,  move the left foot forward and plant it to the right of the line as far as you can comfortably do it (mind the knees).  Next, move the right foot forward and place it as far the left as you are comfy with.   Repeat as often as you can with caution.   This exercise is great for long repeated stretches on stairs too.  Just make sure you have a death grip on the railing especially when you return down taking as many steps at once SLOWLY as you can.  Going down don't cross over the feet.

Second:  Sometimes called the 'full diaper' or skate.  As you step forward with your left foot, move it so that it almost touches the right foot (ankle) then plant it as far to the left as you can.  When you move your right foot forward nearly miss you left foot (way over there on the left) and plant your right one to the right as far as you can.   You might include a crouch position and do some minor lunges as well.  Just don't let the knee get over the toe, however.  Caution is advised for over achievers.

When taking new people out for a longish day hike, on the way back in the car that evening we stop about two hours after leaving the trail and walk around for 10 minutes.  When home I have them walk around the block before getting to bed, and suggest Ibuprofen, even if they don't hurt yet.  Ibuprofen is the cure of choice primarily for inflammation and pain.


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ambrose Search for posts by this member.

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PostIcon Posted on: Apr. 22 2014, 12:34 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(DellWilson @ Apr. 21 2014, 12:44 pm)
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First, by the end of this hike, my feet felt like they had been pounded by a meat tenderizer for 7 hours. I'm not sure if any advice can help me other than looking for better insoles (which I certainly plan to do).

My wife and I found that wearing minimalist type shoes during the off season; such as some type of barefoot runner, goes a long way towards keeping our feet toughened up for the backpacking season. We wear them during the winter on the cold dry days, at the gym running on the track, treadmill, or stair climber, and in the spring when we can run outside on pavement or trail.

Also, try adding in some box jumps, step ups, and step downs for those quads into your routine.


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reubenstump Search for posts by this member.
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PostIcon Posted on: Apr. 22 2014, 8:42 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic.  Ignore posts   QUOTE

Regarding your feet, I'd say that this is normal.  I don't run or ride now, but I certainly used to.  Hiking for hours over uneven terrain (up, down, off camber, tree roots, rocks, etc.) is quite different than running or riding on smooth surfaces, no matter the grade.

Not sure about the quad issue, but I know that over the years that I've discovered exercises which had a similar surprising effect on what I thought were some of my best muscle groups.  The key seems to be that while the same muscles are used, they're used in different ways.
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