Perhaps the greatest beauty of hiking is the simplicity of the exercise. Other than placing one foot in front of the other there is really not much to it. You will carry everything you need on your back, begin walking when the sun rises and stop when you feel you have had enough for one day. Other than that all you do is walk, listen and immerse yourself in beauty all around.
Pacing yourself requires patience, rhythm and timing. The idea is to end your days with the same speed and effort with which you began. Be the tortoise, not the hare.
- Pack Adjustments
You will get a feel for the weight distribution of your pack and harness as you walk. Be attentive to this and make adjustments as necessary. Alternate the weight between your back and hips as the day progresses to not place too much strain on any one area for too long. This will keep you light and stress free as you progress.
- Mix It Up
Just like adjusting the pack you are carrying will allow you to make better progress and avoid straining any one set of muscles, you will enjoy the same benefits by changing up your gait. You can alternate between different strides and catching the weight of your body with your toes, heels and the ball of your foot. Do what you can to make the strain of each muscle as light as possible and you will notice you end the day with greater strength and stamina.
It helps to keep the muscles light and relaxed by taking the time to do a bit of stretching throughout your day. Most importantly, be sure to take the time to enjoy a good stretch at the end of each day to keep your muscles smooth and relaxed.
The best way to make good use of your stretching breaks is to make them shorter and more regular. The more frequently you take your breaks, the less time your muscles will have to stiffen up and this makes it so much easier to get going again with renewed vigor. If you will be taking a break on a colder day, be sure to keep yourself warm during your break so that you do not chill as your body temperature drops.
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Walking Uphill the Right Way
If you find yourself moving uphill, look for a good rhythm between breathing and striding. This is usually the best way to make it to the top of those long gradual inclines when you don’t have to think too hard about the placement of your foot.
Maintain a pace that is comfortable for you and allows you to walk for a long time without taking a break. This will allow you to keep your strain and balance at a constant rather than straining your breathing and heart rate, energy is also economized. Once again remember the advantage of being a tortoise, not a hare.
Think about something positive rather than focusing on how tired and strained you are feeling. A mantra or some other positive expression is just the thing for keeping your mind focused and positive.
- Hang Loose
Go ahead and loosen the straps and ties against your hips and sternum. If they are too tight they will constrict your stride and can affect your breathing.
Take the cruel edge off an especially steep climb by taking it side-to-side. Zigzagging up the hill will make it much easier than going straight to the top.