Tracy's Dad, Lynn, is pretty fit for a 70-something-year-old. He has hiked to the top of Half Dome, ridden his bike across Iowa, and hiked for histio nine times in Shenandoah. So we asked him to share some basic conditioning techniques he uses. We hope these tips will help you get your mind and body ready and ensure your hike is enjoyable. Thanks, Dad!

Disclaimer: Please consult your physician before starting any training program. These recommendations are for informational purposes only.

Walking is something we all learned somewhere from nine months to later in our toddler years. So what can I tell you that you don't already know? Probably not a lot but here goes.

Walking/hiking conditioning is not all that different than training for any event that will stress your body beyond the normal everyday activity.

That is why we train. You need to let your mind adjust to what your body is telling it. In other words, you need to walk until you can actually feel yourself becoming somewhat uncomfortable.

You want to know that when you are on the trail and you start to feel tired or stressed or are having an uncomfortable experience that you have had it before and know how to deal with it. Can you walk through it? Do you need to rest? Do you need to stretch? Do you need to take in some fuel? Do you need to HYDRATE?

Yes, you do need to learn to hydrate; that is, drink your water. Don't waste your time wondering what new sports drink you need to take to the mountain. Just take water. At Histio Hike Shenandoah you may choose a distance from 1.3 miles up to 11 miles. The 11-mile hike should take you from 5 to 8 hours. On such a long hike you may be more comfortable carrying a hydration backpack, such as a Camelbak. Estimate one liter of water for every 2.5 to 3 miles. So for the 13-mile hike you should carry at least 4 to 4.5 liters or 1.2 gallons of water. Water weighs 8 lb/gal. Why do you need to know this? So you can train carrying the right amount of water and also feel what it's like to carry an extra 8 pounds. As you get into walking shape you will want to extend your distance and thus begin to get a better idea how much water you need to drink to stay fresh.

During hike registration you can opt-in for a box lunch to carry on the trail, but you may also want to take some extra snacks with you. Also bring along an extra pair of socks. One or two layers of clothing that will make you comfortable for the climate. Small camera and anything else you feel is a necessity. I mention these things so you will carry the same gear training that you will carry on hike day. (Check out the Recommended Supplies section below for a full list).

So now the only thing you have to do is start walking. Start in the neighborhood on the sidewalk and get used to your footwear that you will be wearing on hike day. I recommend a good pair or two of wool moisture wicking socks. If something does not feel right after a few trips around the block, change your socks or the inner soles of your shoes, or even how you lace-em-up. If you are getting blisters, treat them and cover them while walking. Conditioning is not all about cardio. It is about listening to your body. You know when to push and when to let up. Listen and you will soon find that pushing through a little discomfort on Tuesday won't be nearly as noticeable on Thursday.

I think you get the point: just do it! Sound familiar? The simple key to getting into shape for our wonderful hike is to just get out there. Set up a training schedule to walk at least four times a week. Each week increase you distance and route. As we get closer to hike weekend, be sure you walk nothing less than half the distance you plan to hike in Shenandoah. If you have time, try to walk the whole distance at least once.

One more very important part of the training regimen is to enjoy Mother Nature and get used to seeing her in all her spring glory. This is to be an exercise in Mind and Body.

Good luck and I look forward to seeing all of you this spring!

- Lynn Lamb


Recommended Supplies for the Hike

  • Always make sure to bring plenty of water. Recommended at least 3-5 liters of water. A small backpack with water bottles or a hydration pack such as a CamelBak is convenient.

  • Hiking boots or heavy duty walking shoes, broken-in many weeks before the hike. New boots/shoes can cause serious blisters. You may want to consider waterproof boots/shoes for this hike.

  • Upon registering for the hike you can opt-in to receive a boxed lunch. But you will also want to bring plenty of high-energy snacks too! Energy bars, jerky, granola bars, fruit, nuts, trail mix. You will likely be sweating, so bring along a salty snack to replenish your sodium!

  • Extra pair of socks. It's such a treat to change in to a pair of clean socks at lunchtime!

  • Moleskin for blisters

  • Hat and bandana (good for dipping in water to cool off)

  • Waterproof/sweat proof sunscreen and bug repellent

  • Light jacket or sweatshirt for cool weather shifts

  • Flashlight or headlamp (for our early departure and in the event you get caught in the dark)

  • Watch

  • Camera

  • Sunglasses

  • Small Swiss army knife

  • Convertible pants (pants that can be made into shorts in the event you get hot)

  • Toilet paper and ziploc baggy to haul out paper

  • Optional items:

    • Rain poncho. Or throw a large black garbage bag in your pack in the event of rain.

    • Walking stick or hiking poles (they save your knees on the way down)

    • Small First Aid Kit

    • A water filtration system or water filter tablets may be necessary. (There are waterfalls running this time of year to filter water if needed.)

    • Compass

Please note these are the recommendations for the full 11-mile hike. If you are doing a shorter version of the hike, please plan accordingly.