I’ve suspected for a few weeks now that I’ve been over-training for my Appalachian Trail thru-hike, and tonight, a friend with considerable long-distance hiking experience confirmed it. I’ve been experiencing a few of the classic signs of over-training, including physical and mental exhaustion, no improvement in my cardio fitness, and feeling like hiking is becoming a chore. So, tomorrow I’m taking the day off. Not only because it’s my 40th birthday, but because I need to physically and mentally regroup and implement the new training regimen I have planned below. I am comparing it to the training regimen I had during September and October to see the differences.
When I say I was “feeling like hiking is becoming a chore”, I mean that there have been a few days recently when I didn’t want to be hiking. I didn’t want to be in the woods. That was one early sign that I was over-training, aside from the fact that I’ve had to go home and nap after my hikes because I was so exhausted. Most of the other aspects of my training are going fine. I get eight to nine hours of sleep a night. I drink lots of water (but still probably not enough). I take a multivitamin. I eat better-chosen snacks that are higher in healthy fats and carbs as well as protein. What I’ve been doing for training has, according to some people, been “admirable” and “inspiring” and “more than what most aspiring thru-hikers do to prepare”. That’s all well and good, but it’s not working for me. Draining myself physically and emotionally before I even leave my hometown is not going to get me from Georgia to Maine.
|Monday||2-mile walk, weight training|
|Tuesday||5-mile trail hike (w/30-lb. pack), Tabata cardio training (jumping jacks)|
|Wednesday||2-mile walk, weight training|
|Thursday||5-mile trail hike (w/30-lb. pack), Tabata cardio training (jumping jacks)|
|Friday||10-mile walk (w/day pack)|
|Monday||5-mile trail hike (10-lb. pack in Sep., 20-lb. pack in Oct.)|
|Tuesday||5-mile trail hike|
|Wednesday||5-mile trail hike|
|Thursday||5-mile trail hike|
|Friday||5-mile trail hike|
|Saturday||5-mile trail hike|
It’s finally November! It’s not that I’m looking to rush winter in, mind you, but on the 9th I can finally re-submit my forms for my student loans and get the ball rolling on my plans. I’m growing antsier by the day!
My plans have been altered very slightly in my personal life, due to what I would call “foreseen circumstances” (not a big deal and for the better, really), but the rest of my plans are on the launch pad and ready for liftoff. Things are exciting, scary, unknown, new…I think 2015 will be a fantastic year and I’m looking forward to everything, the plans becoming realities as well as overcoming challenges and obstacles.
Training-wise, I have slowed things down a lot. I’m still hiking five miles, six days a week, but have basically stopped my weight training. For one thing, I have lost about 20 pounds and I feel like that’s a bit too much. For another thing, all the hard work that’s gone into weight training is going to go “kaput” once I’m (hopefully!) on the Appalachian Trail. I’d rather just summit Katahdin, come home, rest a few days, and then start my weight training to rebuild my upper body and maintain my lower body strength.
It’s coming down to the wire, folks! I’m as ready as I’ll ever be.
It’s almost November, and that, of course, excites me to no end. No, not because winter is coming (*shudder*), but because on November 9th, my student loan grace period ends. I get to reconsolidate my loans and reapply for my payment plan…and find out whether I’m thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail in 2015 or not. It’s been a seemingly long wait, since July. I’m a very patient person by nature, but having my life be in such limbo was really grating on my nerves. By late November or early December, I will have my answer. I will consider it my Christmas gift if it just so happens that I can hike!
Life has changed a lot for me between July and now. Just when I thought I had everything figured out, I discovered that I don’t. It’s not so much that everything has changed, but my sense of direction has. It’s changed in a way that I’ve shared with a few people but am not ready to share with everyone quite yet. It’s exciting and scary, and will certainly be carefully considered quite often on my hopeful nearly 2,200-mile adventure. Once that “Bucket List” item is checked off, it will be gonads-to-the-wall job hunting for me.
So stay tuned, the time is almost here for the Appalachian Trail decision!
Hunting season is closing in, and for outdoor folks, that means it’s time to break out the blaze orange apparel! There are a number of ways to stay safe in the woods this fall. Here are some tips:
- Wear blaze orange or other bright colors (preferably neon: orange, green, yellow are best). Avoid black, browns, grays, reds, and whites…those colors are too similar to that of bears, deer, moose, turkeys, etc.
- Display your blaze orange apparel where it can be easily seen from a distance. A blaze orange logo on your back will not be visible if you’re wearing a backpack. Hats and vests are good, visible apparel. If you’re wearing a large pack and do not have a blaze orange pack cover, tie a blaze orange bandana to the outside of the pack where it can be seen.
- Don’t forget about your canine friends! Make sure they are wearing a wrap-around blaze orange vest every time they go into the woods.
- If you see or hear hunters in your vicinity, make your presence known. Verbal identification is generally better than making noises. Do not assume that they can see or hear you.
- Know and avoid popular hunting areas entirely, if possible. Know when hunting season for bows and firearms begins and ends in your area.
I’ll be digging out my blaze orange hat and tying my blaze orange vest to the outside of my pack while I do my training! Be safe in the woods this hunting season!
I’m still hard at work with my anticipatory training for the Appalachian Trail (November is inching closer to find out for sure!). My training has changed a lot since I last posted about it, so here is what I’m currently doing versus what I was doing back on June 19th:
|Monday||4.7-mile trail hike, upper body w/two 10-lb. dumbbells|
|Tuesday||4.7-mile trail hike, lower body w/one 10-lb. dumbbell, abdominal/core strengthening|
|Wednesday||4.7-mile trail hike, upper body w/two 10-lb. dumbbells|
|Thursday||4.7-mile trail hike, lower body w/one 10-lb. dumbbell, abdominal/core strengthening|
|Friday||4.7-mile trail hike, upper body w/two 10-lb. dumbbells|
|Saturday||4.7-mile trail hike, lower body w/one 10-lb. dumbbell, abdominal/core strengthening|
|Monday||2-mile road walk, upper body w/two 10-lb. dumbbells|
|Tuesday||2-mile road walk, lower body w/one 10-lb. dumbbell|
|Wednesday||2-mile road walk, upper body w/two 10-lb. dumbbells|
|Thursday||2-mile road walk, lower body w/one 10-lb. dumbbell|
|Friday||2-mile road walk, upper body w/two 10-lb. dumbbells|
|Saturday||2-mile road walk, lower body w/one 10-lb. dumbbell|
For the month of August, I started using my trekking poles and wearing my pack with 10 pounds of gear. I just added 10 more pounds for September, and when October comes I will add the final 10 pounds for a total of 30 pounds. I’ve lost approximately 14 pounds of body weight and am feeling really good, although pretty tired by the end of the day. Often, I want to head to bed at 8 PM, and those who know me well know I tend to lean toward being a bit of a night owl!
At times, I have to dig pretty deep for inspiration. When you decide you want…need…to do something like thru-hikng the Appalachian Trail, it can become daunting. Almost-2,200 miles is a long way to hike. A really long way. I have the additional challenges of medical issues. So, I dig deep. I remember how I discovered the Trail, why I decided I want to thru-hike it, and how I will feel if I don’t go down to Georgia next March and give it 100%. These are pretty normal feelings, from what I’ve read of many other thru-hikers’ journals. That’s why I have chosen to train six days a week, rain or shine (except downpours and lightning, of course). No amount of training will have me totally prepared for what the Trail will throw at me, but if I’m in the best possible physical shape that I can be in, I will at least stand a chance. It’s a domino effect: feeling physically adequate will give me the mental strength I will need. I also have a ton of support from family and friends, and people who don’t even know me (via social media). I am grateful.
I look forward to so much that the Trail has to offer: interesting places, history, random acts of kindness of strangers, the complete physical and mental challenge, and contemplations about my life’s direction. In November, my student loans will be the deciding factor as to whether the dream is actualized, or becomes dust in the wind.