10 Tips For Trek Training

Trekking in the Lares Valley
Hike into Choquequirao, the Sister-City of Machu Picchu
Hike into Choquequirao, the Sister-City of Machu Picchu

When trekking, it doesn’t matter how stunning the scenery or wonderful the weather is, if you aren’t physically prepared for your trek you probably won’t enjoy it as much. Though treks vary greatly, here are some staple guidelines for any multi-day hike. We’ll leave the specifics of conditioning up to you.

1. Cut your Toenails!

One of those easy things to forget that will haunt you all trip. The slightest unkempt little piggy can become a huge annoyance 3 days into hiking. On the other hand, be careful not to go too short!

 

2. Gear Up

Finding quality gear means enjoying the hike much more. When I first moved out to Montana I was the queen of cotton layers. After sweating to death and then freezing to death I finally schlepped out for some decent sportswear – much nicer.

 

3. Train in the Gear You Plan to Wear on Your Trek

Maybe not 6 months beforehand, but definitely a few months prior. Especially those hiking boots. Break those in ahead of time. Working your gear in allows you to address any issues that come up ahead of time.

4. Know What is Expected of You and Plan That Into Your Training

– How much weight are you expected to carry? Lead up to that much as you train – using the backpack you intend to use.

– How long will you be trekking each day? It’s a good idea if you will be trekking 6-7 hours a day to plan consecutive days of longer walks/workouts/etc. Walking for an hour a day is something, but it hardly compares to full day of strenuous hiking.

– What are weather conditions expected to be like? Weather in the mountains is anything but predictable. Prepare for the unexpected. It is miserable to be cold and/or wet because you heard “it was the dry season”.

– How much elevation gain? If you live in a non-mountainous area find a way to simulate uphill hiking… whether it be high-rise stair climbing, the local sledding hill, or your gym’s StairMaster.

5.  Include Training in Your Daily Routine

Besides setting aside your “work out” time, incorporate activities into everyday life. Decide to walk to work. If that’s not an option, bike to work, park a ways away when driving, get off a stop early for buses or trains, walk during your breaks, stop watching t.v. (that’s my own thing – always feel like you do a lot more when the t.v. doesn’t suck you in). The more active you become, naturally, the more natural hiking hours a day will feel.

6. Cross Train

It breaks up the monotony of your work outs, balances, and prevents injury from overuse. Go on a bike ride, play a game of tennis, take a yoga class, swim. You still get a workout, you develop other muscles and “rest” those crucial muscles.

7. Rest

There is such a thing as too much of a good thing and overworking yourself could lead to an early burn out, injury, or pain on the trail. In even the most intense training programs, one day of rest is critical to it’s success and longevity.

8. Fueling Up

From on trail pick me ups to meals the week before, a healthy diet makes a difference. And learning how to properly re-fuel while exercising takes some time to get right. For instance, waiting until you are thirsty means your already dehydrated and chugging a bunch of water – while totally satisfying – will leave you bloated and perhaps a bit woozy.

9. Allow Plenty of Time to Acclimatize

Many treks involve traveling to high altitude places. At the very least, allow a full day, preferably 2-4 days, with no plans. Rest, restrain from physical activity, drink water (at least 1 liter per day), don’t drink alcohol, and eat small portions of food – mostly carbohydrates.

10. Take ‘Er Easy

First day out, no doubt you’re excited. That doesn’t mean you need to race your porter up the mountain. Pace yourself!

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Want to know more about Trekking in South America?  See all of Detour’s diverse trip options here: http://www.detourdestinations.com/travel

Also, check out our Inca Trail Trekking guide here: http://www.detourdestinations.com/inca-trail-trek-guide/

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2 thoughts on “10 Tips For Trek Training

    • Greg Findley says:

      First, we are not physicians and always recommend you listen to the advice of a physician or other trained medical care giver.

      Altitude pills, most commonly Diamox (acetazolamide), are used by many people on high altitude treks in places like Peru, usually with good results. I have never used them myself, instead preferring to spend a few extra days at altitude prior to beginning a high altitude trek. Giving your body time to acclimatize is the most important thing you can do to help yourself acclimatize and have a fun and safe trek. Additional keys to doing well at altitude are to move slowly, drink lots of water, and try not to overdo it. I am a big fan of drinking Coca tea, which is the local Peruvian remedy for altitude issues, and this tea will be offered everywhere to travelers in Cusco. I have guided treks where people used Diamox and it has really seemed to help them.

      Paul Cripps, the owner of Amazonas Explorer in Cusco, Peru, is not a fan of Diamox as he feels it just masks any real problems and can have serious side effects (this may not be the case see http://www.traveldoctor.co.uk/altitude.htm where they say Diamox actually treats the problem). He also stresses making sure you are not allergic to it, so trying it at home before leaving for your trek is probably a good idea.

      If you have an rx for diamox, it would probably be worth it to fill the prescription and at least take it along with you in case you develop problems on the trip. Diamox can help alleviate symptoms of Acute Mountain Sickness.

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