You’ve been hiking for a little while now. You’re enjoying the views, the feeling of the open air, but still, you feel like you aren’t getting far enough before you start wishing someone had build a pub exactly where you happen to be standing at that moment. However, there are actually quite a few helpful tips that that will allow beginner hikers to cover more distance before they’re gasping for a sit down.
Are These Boots Made for Walking?
Aside from referencing the most obvious possibly song title for this blog, that heading is an important question to ask. Regardless of how serious or casual a hiker you are, your walking boots need to be the best bit of equipment you lay your hands on, and have them professionally fitted if possibly.
If there’s a specific trip you’re planning make sure that you know in advance what the terrain and climate will be like, so that you can buy boots to fit those conditions. For instance, if you’re going into conditions where you are likely to face heavy rain it’s obviously a good idea to check how water resistant your boots are. On the other hand, in a hot, dry climate you’ll want boots that are more breathable, to get rid of the excess moisture you build up while walking and stopping your feet becoming clammy.
Some people have used trainers or running shoes for hiking, with some people saying they offer more ventilation and dexterity than a walking boot. However, despite their advantages, they don’t offer much in the way of ankle support for hikers carrying heavy rucksacks. This has led to the development of the Brasher Walking Boot- a walking boot designed to give you the best of both worlds, which is worth checking out if you’re a beginner.
Train Yourself Up
When you’re hiking you are often subjecting yourself to prolonged physical effort under harsh conditions. If you aren’t in the best physical shape, it’s not the sort of thing you want to jump right into at the deep end. In the days and weeks leading up to your hike, get yourself walking. Avoid all lifts, in favour of climbing the stairs, take some long walks around the neighbourhood, walk to the corner shop instead of driving to Tesco.
For your first hikes, take relatively short routes without too many steep ascents, then build up to more challenging walks.
It’s All in the Rhythm
When it comes to the actual hike, even the way that you walk can have an effect on how long your stamina lasts. Build up a recurrent rhythm or “cadence”. This varies depending on your height, build and general fitness, but a stride of just a bit less than three feet, taking 0.8 seconds each step, is considered a “good cadence” for many walkers. The hard part is to keep it consistent.
To work out what your own ideal cadence is begun walking up a gentle slope a couple of hundred feet in length. Walking this hill a couple of times every day, and while you’re on the ascent keep one thing in mind: Keeping the length of your stride and the time between strides consistent. Don’t go for unnecessarily large steps- your cadence should feel comfortable and natural, allowing you to keep your shoulders level and your back straight. The more you do this, the more it’ll form into a habit.
Once your cadence is firmly ingrained, you can start using other, more advanced tools. Trekking poles, for instance, allow you to make use of you arms muscles while you’re hiking. However, even when using tools like this, your cadence is still your best friend. If you use trekking poles and find it’s messing up your cadence, than the trekking pole isn’t helping.