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How can I prepare for a 24-km trail hike?

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QUESTION

I am doing a 24-kilometre trail hike in September. What should my training plan include?

ANSWER

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Your training program should include shorter interval walks, weight training, longer endurance trail walks and stretching.

During the week:

Twice a week do a 45- to 60-minute interval walk. Hill repeats are a good option. Warm up by speed walking to a hill, then walk up the hill at a brisk pace. The hill should take you between three and five minutes to complete. At the top, turn around and walk down. Repeat four to eight times. Finish by walking briskly home.

You should also strength train twice a week.

In addition, do one or two balance exercises after you walk to help you learn to balance when you are tired – a skill you will need on the uneven terrain of a hiking trail. With no shoes on, try balancing on one foot. Hold the position for 30 seconds. To increase the difficulty, close your eyes, or stand on a bosu ball or another balance tool.

On the weekends:

Do long trail walks, but to minimize the wear and tear training puts on the body, try alternating the length and intensity of the walk week to week.

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On odd-numbered weeks, do long walks that get progressively longer, leading up to the event.

On even-numbered weeks, do two intense walks of medium duration two days in a row. For example, on Saturday do a 1 1/2 -hour-long walk that involves intervals of higher intensity (hills or speed walking). On Sunday, do another 1.5-hour walk. Having to walk a long distance when already tired will mimic the demands of your endurance event, without you having to complete walks of two or more hours on a weekly basis.

TRAINER'S TIP

To mitigate some of the stress of the endurance training, talk with a sports nutritionist or a naturopathic doctor to make sure you are fuelling and hydrating properly.

Send certified personal trainer Kathleen Trotteryour questions at trainer@globeandmail.com. She will answer select questions, which could appear in The Globe and Mail and/or on The Globe and Mail website. Your name will not be published if your question is chosen.

The content provided in The Globe and Mail's Ask a Health Expert centre is for information purposes only and is neither intended to be relied upon nor to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment

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