Tips for Preparing for a Long-Distance Hike
If you’re looking for a long term fitness goal to work towards, then you might consider the raft of charity events on offer. Of these, a long-distance hike is perhaps the most accessible. It’ll allow you to set yourself a challenge without the expense of a cycling trip, or the physical demands of a marathon. Even better, you’ll be able to raise money for your favourite charity in the process! Let’s take a look at some of the things you might want to consider as you build up to the day of the trek.
Build your fitness gradually
Walking over a long distance requires a level of physical fitness and experience. While we’re all familiar with what walking involves, few of do it over quite such a long distance. This means that in order to be prepared for the journey, you’ll need to build your fitness to the required level.
When you’re doing this, it’s important to be realistic. Rome was not built in a day, and neither should your fitness be. Start by establishing how fit you currently are, and then work out how fit you need to be, and by when. From there, you can plot a number of checkpoints – these will be important when it comes to both motivating yourself, and to establishing whether you’re making the required progress.
If things aren’t progressing quite as quickly as they should be, then you’ll need to up the ante a little. If they’re going as well as, or better than expected, then you can relax in the knowledge that you’re on course.
Of course, the more time you give yourself to attain the required level of fitness, the easier it will be to get there. If you haven’t done much moving for a while, then you’d be well advised to give yourself plenty of time.
Pack the right gear
When you’re going on a long hike, you’ll need to ensure that you have the right equipment with you. This means, first and foremost, a decent pair of walking boots, with thick socks. Ideally, this step should be taken well before you set out onto the hike itself, so that you can familiarise yourself with what’s required of you in advance.
As well as the obvious items like boots and clothing, you’ll also need to take with you a few essentials – refer to the list and cross of these items before you set off, as failure to pack them will result in dark looks from your fellow travellers. In some cases, it might even endanger the expedition.
- First aid kit
- Duct Tape
- Map and Compass
- More food than you need
- Extra clothes
- Water purification tablets
While you might think that you already have a torch, map and compass sitting in your pocket, it’s unwise to rely on your phone when you’re out in the wilderness. When you have to rely on seeing in the dark for your own safety, you’ll be grateful of a rugged, powerful full-size torch. Don’t skimp on the equipment, or you’ll surely regret it later.
Where spare food is concerned, you should pack enough to replenish the calories you’ve expended through walking. You should also have access to enough water to keep hydrated. This might mean taking your own water with you, or it might mean making use of water purification tablets. If you’re going to be walking for ten hours a day, then taking enough water with you is going to prove tricky. You’ll need to pick up water along the way – and with the help of tablets, you’ll be able to drink any water you find with confidence.
When packing food and water, you should bear in mind the conditions through which you’ll be travelling. If you’re travelling in cold weather, then your body will need to burn more calories in order to preserve your body heat. If you’re travelling through a scorching desert, you’ll need to drink a great deal more water, as you’ll lose more of it through sweat.
Obviously, being able to eat and drink over the course of your hike is a vital safety consideration. If this is your first time hiking, then be sure to go along with an experienced guide. Fortunately, there exist many reputable companies who offer charity walks, where participants travel in large groups, and have access to excellent and experienced personnel in the event that something does go wrong. This will allow you to push yourself to the limit – but without taking unnecessary risks.
Images credit (under CCL) by order: Moyan Brenn, Henry Hagnäs