Physical Preparation

19 Mar

Physical preparation is a huge part of our lives right now.  However, when we were doing our research we had a really tough time finding information on how other people trained for their thru-hikes or thru-runs.   Lots of folks on traditional thru-hikes let the trail get them in shape.  They start hiking 8-10 miles a day for a few weeks until they build up the stamina they need.   They usually start in the south and go north because the trail gets progressively harder and therefore allows for this kind of “on the job” training.   With our plan for the trail this doesn’t work for us for a few reasons.  One, we want to be trail running as much as possible from the start.  Two, we are going north to south, therefore starting on the hardest terrain and ending on the easier sections.  Finally, we don’t have six months to complete the trail- we are shooting for four, which ups the necessary daily mileage by quite a bit.  All of these factors lead to the fact that we have to whip our butts into shape pre-trail!

While Emily and I have both been runners and athletes since middle-school, we made the decision that we wanted to get a coach.  With working full-time (we are both RNs who work night shift), planning all the trail logistics, taking classes (Emily) and various cross-country and international moves we wanted some help.  By allowing someone else to plan all the physical prep stuff we could focus on what we needed to.   We did a lot of coach research and settled on Wendy Mader, a renowned traithlete and coach who is getting into long distance running.  She trained my friend M0lly to her first Ironman with amazing results, so when Molly recommended her I jumped at the chance.

Wendy has done an amazing job of building us up slowly while still pushing us.  It is a serious challenge to prepare someone to trail run 20+miles a day 6 days a week.  It isn’t like any other race training because it is not a “race”.  It is a relentless slog. Albeit a super awesome relentless slog, but a slog nonetheless.  Wendy gives us a great combination of running, stair master, biking, swimming and hiking.  Both Emily and I have done triathlons in our past and we love getting in the pool.  It is has been a great way to have a day off our legs but still get some endurance and cardio work in.  Here is an example of a training week:

Monday: Swim (varied workouts around 2200-3000m)

Tuesday:Elliptical or Stairmaster 1hr, followed by full body strength wo (squats, lunges, push ups, back row, etc)

Wednesday:  Strength run (10min warm ups and cool downs.  3 min tempo runs interspersed with squats, lunges, burpees, mountain climbers, etc.)

Thursday: Swim (shorter- 2000m or so)

Friday: Spin 1-2hr, lift afterwards

Saturday: Long hike 3-4hr with elevation gain

Sunday:  Long run 2-3hrs

Other weeks include more running, less swimming, more stairmaster or elliptical, etc, but this is the general gist.  Lots and lots of time on our legs, getting used to running tired.  We built up from shorter times/mileages and will continue to increase the length of our runs/hikes as we get closer to June.  However, we are human and today (after an 11 day stretch on) we ate delicious Italian food and took an unplanned “zero” day.   Last week I had a 58 mile week and Em had a 63mile week and we were tired 🙂


3 Responses to “Physical Preparation”

  1. Elizabeth April 22, 2012 at 5:53 am #

    I am worn out just reading about your training.Good for you.I am a nurse as well on a med-surg trama floor.I know all about working those 12 hr shifts.Just interested in hearing how you will be able to get the time off work for your hike!We have to fight to get more than 10 days off!

    • emily April 22, 2012 at 5:56 am #

      I have a PRN job and will be a traveler in the fall. My trail partner is a traveler. We are taking the time off to do the trail. We will be broke when it is over, but it will be worth it! Plus we already have our recruiters on the lookout for well paying travel gigs in the fall 🙂

  2. google authorship wordpress June 1, 2014 at 3:26 pm #

    You can certainly see your enthusiasm within the work you write.
    The world hopes for more passionate writers like you who aren’t afraid to say how they believe.
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