Long Distance Hiking
Long distance hiking is a sport that requires both fitness and stamina. Each of these comes from exercise. The more of each I have the more I enjoy my sport. I am by no means in any kind of world class shape. For exercise I simply enjoy walking and the fitness benefits that result.
Training for Long Distance Hiking
How do I get in shape for long distance hiking? Simple, I walk! Every other day I walk for 5 miles. Every time I walk I increase the amount of weight I carried by 1 pound. By the end of 2 months I'll be carrying over 35 pounds. At that point I start to increase my mileage each time I walk. At the end of 3 months I will be walking over 8 miles every other day.
I believe your exercise day makes you weaker while the following rest day makes you stronger.
Increasing the intensity of each walk by one pound never makes walking a chore. It will be just as easy to walk 5 miles with no weight on my back as it will 3 months later to walk over 8 miles carrying 36 pounds.
Benefits of Training for Long Distance Hiking
September of 1999 was my first ultralight backpacking trip. I hiked 124 miles of the Appalachian Trail in Vermont. I averaged 19 miles a day. I attribute that to both ultralight backpacking gear and the benefits of training for long distance hiking.
Training for long distance hiking allowed me to backpack those 124 miles carrying a 23 lb pack fully loaded with food, water, and fuel. Sometimes in ultralight backpacking I think the fitness aspect is overlooked.
An added benefit of walking my way into "shape" is I get to test and tryout various hiking gear that I might use while long distance hiking!