[pct-l] Starting mileage?

Barry Teschlog tokencivilian at yahoo.com
Tue Feb 23 12:27:46 CST 2016

Chriswrote:  I'm sure this has been answered a hundredtimes before, and of course,everyoneis different, but what kind of mileage/speed do people usuallystartoff with to insure less chance of injury? My wife and I are in decentbasecondition, but obviously that's not much compared to a thru-hiker 2monthsdown the trail. Furthermore, we're 35, so while not up there by anymeans,we're not spring chickens anymore, either. We run frequently and dolongwalks in the city, but we have no access to mountains or realelevation;the best we can do is go up and down the steepest hills in thecityover and over.  Any thoughts and advice would be greatlywelcome!   Reply:  I was in my mid 30’swhen I thru hiked, so you may find my experience relevant.  I’d highly recommendbeing in well enough shape to pull a 20 right out of the gate.  Note, that is “a” 20, not sustained 20’s.  I’d highly recommend an overall more modest pace forthe first several weeks with copious zeros. Train with weight, even if you don’t have lots of elevation to workwith.  Be creative – parking structureshave ramps, look for big stair cases you can do repeats on with a fully loadedpack.  Squats will help strengthen theleg muscles, etc.  Don’t underestimatethe benefit of the hill’s you’re using.
On the "a" 20 mile day early:  There are places and times when it is hugely advantageous to be able to push one long day to get through a longer waterless section.  Being able to avoid carrying 2-3 liters of extra water for an overnight stay will save you 4-6 pounds.
 Here’s an outline ofwhat I did once I pushed off from the border. I still ended up with blisters (dealt with them the first 4-5 weeks), butavoided overuse injury.  Day 1 I pushedthrough to Lk Morena.  I took a leisurely morning the next day and only went to Fred Canyon on day 2, then to Mt. Laguna onday 3.  So about a 20, 12 and 11 mile dayfor the first 3.  I then took a doublezero (KO) before pushing on to Warner over 4 days (15, 20, 23, 8 mile days).  Another zero in Warner.  I pushed too hard heading out of WarnerSprings (21.5, 20, I wasn’t really ready for back to back 20’s with a full load of food / water) so went into Idyllwildfor an unplanned zero via the highway.  Iwent back to Idyllwild for the planned zero after a 15 to Fobes Saddle, then12.3 to the Slide trail.5 days from Idyllwildgot me to Big Bear and another zero. (See the pattern on those zeros?)  5 more days toWrightwood and another zero.  Note that Idid a 26.7 mile day first day out of Big Bear, but it just came naturally, Ididn’t push – followed that with a 20, 24, 16 (included the McD stop) then 18in to Wrightwood.Another zero in AguaDulce (actually a double zero, this was back in '06 before Hiker Heaven had to clamp down on stay length) and a zero in Mojave. Lk Isabella was the first town stop without a zero.  I zeroed at KM to get my stuff togetherbefore the High Sierra.  By then, I wasin good trail shape, fully hardened.
Bottom line:  Zero early, zero often when first starting out.  Keep the big mile days in check - if you do one, don't try and do another the next day if you can help it, especially if you're carrying lots of water.  Plan smart.  Let the big miles come naturally - that first 26 mile day for me happened when I hit my 20 mile goal and it was only 3 in the afternoon, pushing the extra 6 was easy over 3-4 additional hours.  Listen to your body and take more zeros if you have to.  Don't try and keep up with the early 20-somethings, just walk your own pace.  During the day - start early to beat the heat.  I did a pre-dawn start for the San Flieppe Hills and got in 7-9 miles before the sun hit me.  Take plenty of rest breaks, every hour and a half for me.  Drink sufficient water.  Try and avoid hiking in the heat of mid day - hole up at shade and water if possible from 1 or so until 4 or 5.
Of the day's I did over 25 and 30 miles, respectively.  None were in the few days I hiked in April.  I did 1 30 plus and 1 25 plus mile day in May.  None in June (high snow year in '06).  4 25+ mile days in July.  3 days of 30 plus in August with another 9 25 plus (Nor Cal and Oregon go quick). and 5 25 plus mile days in September.

Enjoy the hike.  Hope to run into you up here in Washington in August or September.

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