On episode 544 of 40+ Fitness Podcast, Katie Gerber, co-author of Adventure Ready: A Hiker’s Guide to Planning, Training, and Resiliency, helps us prepare, train, and enjoy even the longest hikes.
Let's Say Hello
[00:03:00.010] – Allan
Hey, Ras, how are things?
[00:03:01.640] – Rachel
Good, Allan. How are you today?
[00:03:03.540] – Allan
I'm doing okay. Yeah? Doing all right.
[00:03:06.420] – Rachel
[00:03:08.110] – Allan
Well, that's good. Good to hear.
[00:03:10.470] – Allan
Well, we're into the low season, and so what happens is we have all this blank time at Lula's, so you're looking at just day after day after day of no people here. Now, that could sound great to somebody, but it's revenue. We got to pay the bills. We still have employees. We still have electricity. We still have things we got to do. And so there was nobody, like, no bookings at all. I was really only on one listing agent out there besides ourselves. So you can come directly to our website to book. But we're then connected into we were connected into one other, what they call Ota, which is just someone who sells your rooms for a commission, and we run one, and they dried up, so we weren't getting any up from them either. And so I've been working since we opened to try to get on these other places, and they just weren't happening. And I was like, I just don't understand. I do what I'm told to do, and then nothing happens. And so I managed over the course of the last three weeks to get on two of the other ones.
[00:04:22.150] – Rachel
[00:04:23.410] – Allan
And that's helped. A lot of bookings are coming in through those two other sources, one in particular, and then there's one other source that I wanted to be on. And when I first tried to start doing this, like I said, this was back November. I'm trying to get on this one, and we had already had it was already an account, and so I was just trying to access the account, and things were a little backwards for them because to ask for help, you have to log in. Well, I didn't have the login criteria.
[00:04:52.350] – Rachel
[00:04:53.200] – Allan
I couldn't log in. Okay. And because I couldn't log in, I couldn't get to their extranet to ask for help, and there's no external email or anything to contact them at all. There's no way to reset the password. There's no way to do anything else on that site, and so you're just completely locked out. So I created a new site. I'm like, I created a new website, another one, like a whole new start all over. So there won't be any reviews on that and all that. And that's fine. We'll work that out. But I go to set it up, and they're like, we want to confirm your address.
[00:05:27.920] – Allan
So they want to mail me something. Well, we don't get mail here. You can't physically mail something to me. You can mail it to a US. Address, but that's not going to confirm that I'm at a physical address. So then they want to do it online, and I've been going back and forth. They're like, Are you on airbnb? Send your listing stuff, and we'll confirm you. I sent it, and I got nothing. And then they sent again, and they say, Okay, well, we can get on a zoom call with you. I'm like, Cool. So I go to book the zoom call, and then it comes back with this, okay, your appointment is set. It's going to be on Google Meet, but there's no link to the Google Meet. I email the woman, I'm like, I didn't get a link. I didn't get a code or nothing. And we're supposed to be on the call. It didn't happen. And so I booked another one right after it on the same thing. And again, it never sends me a link to the meeting, and she's not responding to emails. So I've been working on this for months, months and months and months, seven months going on now.
[00:06:27.560] – Allan
And just this one place I can't I'm not going to say their name out loud, but one of them that I was trying to get on because it's one of the bigger ones, they're not equipped to help.
[00:06:39.490] – Rachel
That is so bizarre. Crazy thing.
[00:06:43.550] – Allan
So that's my morning frustration supposing to have someone get on a Google call with me so I can confirm that we are who we say we are, where we are. And yes, that fell through. And still she's not responding to my emails. And I'm like, I don't understand.
[00:07:01.810] – Rachel
No. Terrible customer service.
[00:07:04.380] – Allan
It is, but we are on those other bookings, and so if you're looking for a vacation spot, come on down to Bocas Del Toro. We've got rooms.
[00:07:14.590] – Rachel
Awesome. Yeah, that sounds great.
[00:07:18.100] – Allan
So how are things up there?
[00:07:21.190] – Rachel
100% things are great. I've had a really rough spring with allergies just to pick up mano, and I haven't been running for about a month because of the mano and the fatigue, but now I feel I'm back to normal out there walking the trails and enjoying some time outside. So I'm feeling really good outside doesn't want to kill me right now.
[00:07:41.290] – Allan
Outside, doesn't want to kill me right now.
[00:07:43.780] – Rachel
Not now, anyway.
[00:07:45.910] – Allan
[00:07:46.660] – Rachel
[00:07:47.890] – Allan
I guess that's just one of the odd things I really have never suffered with allergies. And I lived in Austin, and I'll tell you, you moved to Austin, and you may not have these problems before you moved to Austin, but almost everybody who lives in Austin develops allergies.
[00:08:05.860] – Rachel
[00:08:06.380] – Allan
Fortunate. I never did, but I was only there for about three years, so maybe I just missed it, but yeah, unfortunate. And then here in the jungle, nothing.
[00:08:17.500] – Rachel
That's awesome. That's really good. I didn't have these problems in Florida. When I lived in Florida, it was not nearly this bad, but the trees on my property here, I'm pretty much allergic to most of them. It's just my poor planning on taking notice of the wildlife in my area.
[00:08:36.670] – Allan
Okay, well, I hope that things are good and that things are not trying to kill you and you can get back out to your running.
[00:08:42.920] – Rachel
[00:08:44.770] – Allan
All right, are you ready to talk to Katie?
[00:08:47.300] – Rachel
[00:08:48.210] – Allan
[00:09:30.910] – Allan
Katie, welcome to 40+ Fitness.
[00:09:33.850] – Katie
Hi, thanks for having me.
[00:09:35.630] – Allan
Now, your book is called Adventure Ready: A Hiker's Guide to Planning, Training, and Resiliency. And I have clients that hike and love hiking. I actually have one. He does a lot of day hiking, and then I just got a client and his aspiration is to do Appalachian Trail. He'll be 65, so he said he's going to break that into sections. And so I think when people think of hiking, because I know, like, here on the island or on the different islands they'll put together hikes, there's a hiking group. I'm a member, although they tend to plan a hike, like, they'll email today for a hike they're going to do tomorrow. And I'm like, I didn't have time to plan. I didn't have time to schedule. And no, I can't make that one. So a lot of them work that way. But these are hikes through the jungle, and they're usually a few hours, like half day things. But hiking is really kind of this diverse sport, if you will. I mean, similar to running where you could just do a 5K or you can do a marathon or you can do an ultra marathon or even take it further, some 100 miles multiple days in a row.
[00:10:50.410] – Allan
Can you talk about hiking and kind of some of those variables that maybe we haven't heard about so we can get an idea of where we're going with this?
[00:10:59.290] – Katie
Sure, yeah, that was a great analogy with running. Like, there are many ways to engage with hiking and backpacking and this whole world of through hiking, which is something that my book speaks to. And so with day hiking, that's what you're talking about. Like, you have that local group that does a lot of day hikes. So that's essentially just anytime you're getting out for the day, not sleeping out overnight, it could be a couple of miles, or for some people, it could be like a 30 miles day. It could be a day hike. It's a big day hike, but it could be a day hike. And then there are these long trails that usually referring to there's a debate about what a long trail is, but it was like the Appalachian Trail or the Pacific Crest Trail, anything that's usually like 100 or so miles or more, anywhere up to a couple of thousand. The Continental Divide Trail is 2800 miles, and there are different ways to hike that type of trail, to backpack that trail. Essentially, you could do it in sections. So some people will hike like a couple of sections each year and eventually what we call a thru-hike, which is to hike the entire trail.
[00:12:05.900] – Katie
They will thru-hike it over maybe a decade or something by adding up sections. Or there's some people who like to go out and to hike the entire thing in one season. So maybe they start like the Appalachian Trail, for instance, that you're talking about your client. Maybe they'll start in late April in Georgia, one of the terminus, the southern terminus, the Appalachian Trail, and hike all the way north up to Maine, the northern terminus, in one season. So that's 2200 miles. So yeah, there's a lot of different ways to engage in hiking and backpacking kind of depending on your life and how deep you want to go.
[00:12:39.880] – Allan
Yeah. And if you're doing over 2000 miles and you go the wrong direction, even a step, that's no problem,
[00:12:47.090] – Katie
you don't want to do it.
[00:12:51.650] – Allan
You had some great stories in the book about exactly that, especially when you're talking about the Orientating and back before GPS were really popular and you're looking at a map and you say, well, that's that ridge and you start walking that direction only to find that no, the next ridge that you were looking for isn't there. So you got to turn around and go back to where you were.
[00:13:10.390] – Katie
Yeah, it's the worst. It's the worst feeling. Exactly. Especially when you're on like a 2000 miles hike, even missing a trail junction by a mile and having to backtrack you're just like, no. Yeah, that's why learning the navigational skill set can be really helpful.
[00:13:25.220] – Allan
And you do really good job. I was in the military and had do a good bit of that myself before the days of GPS, the compass and the map of your friends if you learn and practice and I think that was one of the key things you talk about in the book is this is a skill that requires practice. You help us with that. Now, one of the things you put in there and I love it because I live on an island in the Caribbean and so people bring things here and they leave them. The locals are kind of the worst, but people will go out and they will make a trail less likable, less fun. And we actually, because some of the stuff is private property, we've had owners just say, no, you can't come on my property anymore because of this. But you talk about the seven principles of Leave no trace. Can you go through those? Because I think it's really important when we're doing these things to make sure that we're doing them responsibly. So just to give people food for thought, if they're going to get out of nature, which is what you need to do, you should be out in nature. What's the protocols or etiquette we need to follow?
[00:14:30.030] – Katie
Absolutely. Yeah. And I appreciate that you're bringing this up? Because I think any of us who are going to spend time in the outdoors should be aware of these principles because we just want to leave as little impact as possible out there so everyone can continue to enjoy it. Essentially, there are these seven leave no trace principles that we talk about in the book, and obviously we didn't develop these, where there's a center called leave no trace center for outdoor ethics. Essentially, these principles are designed to minimize our impact on the outdoors, help us be good stewards of the land that we're walking through. And so these principles are designed mostly for backcountry use, but they can be used anywhere, like you said, in a local park or on your trails, out behind your house or anything like that. Sure, I'll briefly go through them, and we can talk a little bit about each of them. So the first one is to plan ahead and prepare. So by planning ahead, essentially, like individuals who are going out or groups that are going out can be better set up to stay safe and then to practice these leaving a trace principles.
[00:15:28.950] – Katie
So, for example, if an inexperienced user goes out into that country, maybe in the sierras, and they don't know that there's a fire ban there, because in the southwest, where I live in Colorado and then west of me, we have very severe wildfire problems in the summer. So if someone doesn't know there's a fire ban and they only brought food that can be cooked over a campfire, then they're almost like forced to start a campfire where they shouldn't be starting one. Or maybe if someone doesn't plan a trip properly and they don't know what the trail is going to be like, and it's more rigorous than they expect, and they have to camp in a place that's ideal, then they could be damaging some of the fragile surfaces, for example. So that's why planning ahead and preparing as the first step is so that you can be a better practitioner of these leaf and trace principles. So travel and camp on durable surfaces is the second one. So durable surfaces would be anything like sand, rock, ice, snow, anything that can withstand impact. Some vegetation can, some can't. And examples of nondurable surfaces would be like cryptobiotic soil, which is a type of living soil in the desert that prevents erosion.
[00:16:39.110] – Katie
Delicate alpine tundra would be another one, like wet meadows where you trample the grass and it doesn't bounce back easily. So just knowing, like, what are durable surfaces, what aren't durable surfaces, traveling on trail where you can and if you're traveling in a group, knowing how to minimize your impact on those non durable surfaces, essentially knowing where you can camp where you're not going to cause further impact and just how to go about that. And then the third one is disposable waste properly. That refers to, of course, packing out your trash. A lot of people may have heard the phrase pack it in, pack it out but it also refers to human waste which in many cases like in a river quarter should also be packed out or if you're like in a fragile alpine environment it should also be packed out or if you're going to barrier waste like which digging a cathole is sort of the way that the accepted practice to go about that to know that you have to take it deep enough 200ft from water, away from high use areas, away from game trails and places that animals are going to use regularly and then packing out your teepee in some places where it's like moist and hot and it's going to break down, that's fine, it'll probably degrade but in a lot of places especially again where I live where it's dry or if you're in the alpine and it's just not going to break down because there's not enough heat and there's not enough moisture, just pack it out and knowing the best practices around that and one other part of that whole topic of it's not really disposing of waste but it kind of goes under.
[00:18:10.720] – Katie
This is like not putting soap into the waterways. A lot of people like oh well it's a biodegradable soap, I can use it in the waterway but we don't want to do that as well. So it's part of that leave no trace ethic. The fourth one is leave what you find which is pretty straightforward. It's like any we go out there because we all want to see these beautiful flowers or beautiful we find beautiful rocks or like when I was in Utah guiding last month we were finding artifacts like old arrowheads and things like that and it's so tempting for people like oh I want to take this home and I want to show it to people, it's so cool. But part of leave no choice ethics is just leave what you find. Other people want to enjoy it as well. And then another part of that is to avoid landscaping an area with like fire rings or log chairs or things like that avoiding like moving things around too much in an area or if you do naturalizing it again before you leave the area. Minimizing campfire impacts is principle number five. Again I mentioned fire ban so knowing when and where fire bands are in effect if you are allowed to build a fire in an area knowing whether it's going to cause potential damage to that country there looking around knowing is there sufficient firewood that I'm not going to further impact the area.
[00:19:26.600] – Katie
Like will removal of this firewood be noticed? I mean understanding how to minimize the impact if you do build a fire, like if you build a fire ring you should build it in a ring if the one exists you should dismantle the ring if it doesn't exist and there are other methods to building campfires that you can minimize your impact. Respecting wildlife is principle number six. So that's just like keeping your distance, not being too intrusive. I think we've all seen those national park photos where people are having their cameras and they're right up in the moose's face or, like, way too close to the bison or the bears, and it's obviously stressing the animal out. And so it's like, we want to avoid that. We don't even want them to know of our presence unless we're trying to just sort of gently spook them away so that we can pass through a trail. But it also means not camping too close to a water source where we might be scaring the animal away from coming to the water source, not camping right on top of a game trail where we might interrupt their travel to and from where they're trying to go.
[00:20:28.920] – Katie
So, yeah, just generally being respectful of the wildlife. We're in their home, so we want to be respectful. We would being a house guest in someone else's home, and then the 7th one is being considered by other visitors. We're all trying to be out there enjoying nature. And so I think just being cognizant of what you're doing, like using your headphones instead of playing music loudly through a speaker, which might disrupt other people or disrupt the wildlife or keeping your dog leashed or just sharing the trail with other users, whether those are pedestrians or equestrians or bicyclists or whatever it is, just being thoughtful of other people so we can all enjoy the outdoors. And if you want to learn more, is this lnt.org is the place to go to really get all the details on that.
[00:21:16.890] – Allan
LNT for leavenotrace.org? Okay, cool. All right. Now it's the end of June, and so for most of the places that people would be either hiking or training, because that's the other side of it, is if you're going to start your hike next April to do the Appalachian Trail, for example, you're training now, so you're getting out and training. And one of the things that happens for a lot of us is we're trying to push ourselves because, again, we're carrying a pack. That pack could be over 40 lbs, maybe 50 lbs sometimes when you first start with the food and you're in the heat. So you've got to train your body to do that. We're going to talk about conditioning in a minute, but one of the things that hits a lot of us is just the heat and all those things that can happen with regards to illnesses, heat illnesses. So we're talking about heat exhaustion, heat stroke. Can you kind of talk us through what we should be looking for as far as symptoms, that the heat starting to really be a problem for us and what we should do about it?
[00:22:16.410] – Katie
Yeah, absolutely. Definitely something valuable to be aware of. So, yeah, as you were just saying, these heat illnesses can occur essentially like on a spectrum, there's a progression. So there's heat rash and heat cramping which most of us are familiar with, like from exercising outdoors and heat, those are pretty common and can be prevented and treated by consuming adequate water and salt and cooling off and resting in the shade. And then as you mentioned, there's more serious forms of that. If those aren't treated, that would progress to heat exhaustion and then to heat stroke. These also result from exercising in the heat and the humidity, not consuming enough water, salt and they can essentially cause the body temperature to rise above critical levels. So prevention is best. So if we can stay hydrated, consume electrolytes, pay attention to when we're starting to overheat and we can rest and not try to, we are pushing ourselves, but maybe try to not push ourselves beyond what is comfortable in the heat or at least just paying attention to our own body and what's going on in there. So you're asking about symptoms. So heavy sweating, muscle cramping when you start to get a headache.
[00:23:34.830] – Katie
Nausea is a big one that I've seen before. If you're starting to get nauseous, dizzy, of course fainting is a pretty obvious symptom. Pulse can change, either become really rapid or really weak. So when you're starting to see any of those changes, there should be like red flags. Like hey, it's time to slow down, find some shade, cool off immediately, whether by putting cold water on the skin, any way that you can cool down, replace some of those fluids in the body, take some electrolytes if you haven't been taking in any salt or anything like that. And then if you don't treat that, that can progress to that heat stroke which is a medical emergency. So if it progresses to that point and that's a temperature greater than 103. And some of the symptoms would be that you stop sweating, actually you start to get slurred speech and essentially there's any changes in consciousness, that's when you need medical help. And so hopefully you're carrying some sort of either a cell phone or an inreach device which is like a satellite communication device that you can get yourself help.
[00:24:36.590] – Allan
Or you're traveling with a hiking buddy. And so this is something also if you notice that your hiking buddy is getting confused, they've stopped sweating, start asking them a couple of questions that they should be able to answer and if they really start struggling with those types of things, it's time to call it quits and get that person some help. okay. So yes, we need to condition ourselves for this stuff. And you start thinking, how does one go about training for a 2000 miles plus hike? And it kind of brings me back to my marathon days and the way we would say it was you either feel the pain before you do the run or you're going to feel it after you do the run, but this you're going to feel it during because this is not just a one day thing. And the phrase you use in the book, which I like, is to hike yourself into shape. And some people can and do that, but it's going to make for a very unpleasant first few weeks. Can you talk about how someone could go about planning and conditioning program? You have some in the book.
[00:25:41.090] – Allan
I don't have to give all the way the stretching and all of this stuff. We're going to talk about that's in the book, but it just gives us an overview of how someone can look at planning their conditioning so they're ready. Like my client that wants to be able to do this in a few years, he wants to start conditioning himself for it. What should he be considering and how should he be going about this?
[00:26:02.090] – Katie
Yeah, absolutely. And like you said, it's a great idea. So you can hike yourself into shape. So some people, they're kind of different schools of thought. Some people are like, oh, you don't have to do any training ahead of time. You'll hit the trail and just walking every day, you're going to hike into shape. And it's like, yeah, that's true in some cases, but you're going to be a lot more prone to overuse injuries and just to not completing the goal that you set out to do. So of course, I and my co-author Heather, are big proponents of physically training yourself to be ready for that hike. And I think the longer out you can start, the better because that way you're not going to be tempted to ramp up too quickly. So that's one of the principles that we talk about with training, is building a training plan for yourself where you're balancing cardiovascular training, strength and mobility exercises and rest, of course, because that's an important part of a training plan, as well as giving yourself your body enough time to adapt to the stressors from exercise that you're actually strengthening building muscle and not like just wearing yourself down.
[00:27:04.100] – Katie
So, yeah, the training plans, we essentially talk about how to build your own individual training plan. And we go through some exercises in there where you can test yourself for muscle weaknesses. So that's one aspect of it is doing different tests on your own body so you can determine if you have places where you used to get injured a lot. We're going to invite you to focus extra strengthening effort in that area, whether through different exercises, whether that's through doing lunges or toe raises or calf raises or things like that. So figuring out where your personal weaknesses are and then building a plan that builds your endurance by slowly building up the miles, gradually including enough rest days in there. And we talk about a protocol for how to figure out where to start because it depends. Are you starting from the couch are you starting from someone who is already relatively in shape. So we kind of talk about how to build those miles gradually and what to start with and how to build up. And then including those strengthening exercises and those mobility exercises like I was talking about, whether that's strengthening your inner thighs or strengthening your hip muscles or things like that.
[00:28:18.040] – Katie
Any of those muscles you're going to use with backpacking. Essentially, we're just trying to get the body adapted to carrying a weight on the back over uneven surfaces, because that's different than what a lot of us are used to and what a lot of our bodies are used to. We talk about how to build those, balance out those aspects in a training plan so that your body hit the trail with your body being ready, and you're not going to have to go home early from overuse injuries. And it's so much more enjoyable when you show up in shape. I've seen both sides of it. Some people go off the couch and they just struggle a lot. And then other people focus a lot of time into that training ahead of time. And you can hit the trail doing more miles and it hurts so much less. And you can keep up with your friends if you're going in a group. So I'm definitely an advocate of training your body.
[00:29:08.800] – Allan
Yeah. One of the things I kind of liked about what you had in the book was it was also know yourself. So it's like put on a 40 pound pack and walk kind of the same grade of hills and things that you're going to be doing on there. And if you notice, okay, your core is not really stabilized well enough that you can handle a pack. You need to maybe bolster your core work. Maybe you're arching your lower back and over time that's going to fatigue. You can do some cobras and some things like that to just make sure that you're in a better condition to handle how your body is going to respond. Because I saw something and there was where I got to find this because it was so cool. It was the trail pronation, which I guess as you're carrying weight and you're moving up a trail, the way you walk, the way you move, it changes it changes the whole dynamic of your kinetic chain. And as a result, you have to look at the shoes you're wearing and be ready to change those out regularly. You also need to just train yourself to be in that different position for hours at a time.
[00:30:17.090] – Katie
Yes, absolutely. It's such a good point as a lot of people, especially sometimes, like, if people just do walking as their training or they're transitioning from running or something like that, they kind of forget about how putting a pack that's anywhere from 20 to 40 lbs on the back really changes, like your center of gravity and how you carry your body. And exactly like you're just saying, how does that affect how you move and how do you train for that?
[00:30:43.070] – Allan
And then how much you've conditioned yourself, then blends into the plan for the trail. It's like if you know you're not going to be able to do 20 miles a day for five consecutive days, then you've got to come up with a plan for one, okay, maybe it's going to take you a little longer. You probably have to carry more food so your pack might even be heavier and you're going to move slower. Yeah, but that's your plan and you have to kind of balance that out. And so knowing your conditioning and then that helps drive your plan. Knowing your plan helps drive your conditioning and it's kind of a back and forth thing.
[00:31:13.370] – Katie
Absolutely. Yeah, exactly like you said, knowing the daily mileage that you're capable of, what's comfortable for you, taking into consideration that weather might get in your way or heavier pack might slow you down, all that stuff really ties into exactly how much food you're going to need to carry when you're expected to get to point B and then point C and D resupply places along the trail. And you're also thinking about, okay, am I going to finish in time to fit inside this weather window is what we say. Because you don't want to be out there on a 2000 miles trail. It's a little different than planning for a three night or even a five night trip because you're like, oh, I'm going to go out and it's June 1 through six, no problem. I know the weather is going to stay nice, but when you're out there for months at a time, you have to be kind of thinking about, okay, am I going to be able to finish in time? Am I going at a pace that's adequate to get me to Canada before the snow starts flying and all of that. So it's another reason why being trained and like you're saying, just knowing your body and what you're capable of is very valuable.
[00:32:19.270] – Allan
Yeah, well, Heather did a fastest known time on the Appalachian Trail. I think if I did it, it would be the slowest time and I would have to go through a lot of snow, probably two years of it, to get that baby done because that's something else. Now we can talk about the physical preparation, but I know from experience that you can get yourself as physically prepared as you ever want to. You can have all your planning, you have everything mapped out, but stuff happens. This is hard stuff. You're not talking about walking an hour or 2 hours and then calling it a day. You guys are doing upwards to twelve, maybe even more hours to get the distances that you want to get so that you can keep this sustainable for you. How do you mentally prepare for something like that?
[00:33:14.750] – Katie
yes, such a great topic and one that I really love talking about with people because it's something that a lot of aspiring through hikers or long distance hikers don't think as much about. They think a lot about I've got to get the right gear and I have to practice my navigational skills and I've got to get my food ready and all that. And all those things are super important and we cover them in the book. But that mental preparation aspect, that's something I wasn't ready for on my first hike. I mean, I kind of had an idea from having read blogs and things like that, but there are some tough conditions out there. Like you said, you're not just out for an hour over the course of multiple weeks and months, you're going to encounter crappy conditions, you're going to miss your loved ones, you're going to be hungry, your body is going to hurt no matter how well trained you are. There's going to be a lot of aspects to it that you can't really prepare yourself from a fiscal perspective, but you can't prepare your mind for it. So, I mean, I share the statistic in the book, but it's estimated that 75% to 85% of aspiring through hikers on what we call the Triple Crown trails, which is the at, the Pct and the CDT actually quit before reaching their goal.
[00:34:31.770] – Katie
And when you think about that, it's interesting because backpacking is a skill set that you need to learn, but it's not particularly technical. Someone who does, who studies and goes out in practice, you can become proficient at it relatively quickly. And yeah, it's a great physical feat to accomplish, but you can adjust your pace, you can slow down and all of that. So why is it that so many people are failing to reach their goal when they're out there? And I think it's a lack of mental preparation, failing to prepare your mind for the fact that it is going to be hard because I think when a lot of people are thinking about going out on these trails, they're thinking about all of those really desirable things like the beautiful scenery and being away from their laptop or their work schedule, kind of being on their own time, the simplicity of being out there, all those things that draw us out there. But they're not necessarily thinking about the fact that they're going to have blisters on their heels that are the size of a quarter and that they're going to run through their food too quickly and be hungry or they're going to be scared at times, whether it's of animal or weather or anything like that.
[00:35:39.150] – Katie
So yeah, there's a saying that through hiking, success is 90% mental and it's mental preparation. That's why we kind of go through some different strategies in the book of how to prepare yourself mentally for a long hike. And I'm happy to dig into those if you want to get into those specific?
[00:35:53.840] – Allan
Yeah, absolutely. Now, I know I've written a book, too. Congratulations on the effort. But you also said you like to journal. You are already sitting around with a notebook every day after you finished your hike or maybe even the morning before you started your hike. So I imagine that discipline of journaling helps you with writing this book as well. So I know that was one of the big ones that was but the one that was most interesting to me was the practice voluntary hardship.
[00:36:24.050] – Katie
Yeah, it's an interesting one, I think, that you don't necessarily think of right away. But for me, that came about really when I started running when I was younger. I did cross country in junior high and high school, and I noticed that when I would so it's become skilled at anything. It's practice and it's putting in the hours. And I would notice that when I made myself go out on the rainy days or go do twice a day in the afternoon. So I grew up in Ohio, and it was hot and humid, and I would make myself go in the morning and then go again in the afternoon no matter how much I didn't want to. And it was amazing because I would get out there and I would be like, oh, this isn't like that bad. I survived this. Like, oh, I went out in the rain and I survived it. And so I think that principle of practicing voluntary hardship is like building your inner resiliency, like letting yourself, your body and your mind know, I can do this hard thing. I'm capable of it. And this hard thing isn't going to it might not be even as hard as your mind is telling you it's going to be.
[00:37:27.760] – Katie
Like with those runs, I was saying, Oh, I got out there and I was like, Oh, I got wet. Okay, that's not a big deal, I'm fine. Or just putting yourself in those situations, anything that's sort of a little bit on your edge of discomfort to just train your body and your mind into that belief and knowingness that you're capable, you can do those challenging things.
[00:37:51.230] – Allan
Yes, I had an author on it. I know his first name was Michael, but his book was called The Comfort Crisis. It was a great book on this topic. He got himself in a situation where he just got dropped off with these guys out in the tundra about as far north as you could ever go, and he spent 30 days out there. And it's kind of one of those things it taught him that in these hard things do they'll teach you this, that you guys said words like embrace the suck, or those types of things. And it's funny to say, it's not funny when you're doing it, but then after it's over and you survive, it's kind of like, well, good. I feel like I've accomplished more because I went through this hard thing and I think that's where the kind of build up of all of this is going is okay, yes, you can journal, you can meditate, you can breathe, and those are all important things just for life, everything in life. But if you make things hard on yourself here and there, it just gives you this resilience from a mental perspective that you wouldn't have otherwise.
[00:39:00.010] – Katie
Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. And there's like a big trend in wellness and such a trend, but science and research behind it is like cold baths and cold exposure and part of it is like yes, it does have absolutely benefits for your mitochondria inflammation, all of that. But I think part of it too is like the mental benefits. Exactly. It's like showing yourself that you can do hard things and you can get through it and that makes you more capable for other hard things in life.
[00:39:28.450] – Allan
Yeah, because I prefer the heat shock proteins of going out when it's in the high eighty s and putting up with that versus the cold any day. Maybe I need to do that. But I don't actually have anywhere I can take a bath here, so I'll have to figure out and the ocean is 70 deg, so it's not going to do it. But I agree with you there.
[00:39:51.120] – Allan
Katie. I define wellness as being the healthiest, fittest and happiest you can be. What are three strategies or tactics to get and stay well?
[00:40:00.750] – Katie
Yes, that's a great question. So of course I'm going to say daily time outside. For me, that is probably one of the biggest, most valuable wellness practices in my own life. Even if it's just you only have time for ten minutes, 15 minutes, getting outside, ideally as close to sunrise as possible, getting that natural light into your eyes, setting your hormones, optimizing those for the day, your circadian rhythm, all of that and just the stress relief benefits of being outside. I think it's so valuable, I think having something planned each day that you look forward to or that you're excited about, whether it's a walk outside or for me, like journaling time over my coffee or my tea, whatever it is. Time with a loved one snuggling, a pet, whatever it is. Maybe it's part of a morning ritual, anything that I think feeds and nourishes you. It's such a great antidote for the busy and often like stressful lives. Many of us live in the modern life or find ourselves in, whether it's a stressful day or a season of life. Just having those things each day that we can look forward to. It's just really important having that reason to get out of bed.
[00:41:10.130] – Katie
And then that kind of leads into my third one, which is something similar we talk about in the book. It's like knowing your why, having that strong sense of purpose or vision for what you are, putting your energy towards each day, what you're putting your time towards in this season of life. Something that just keeps you going through the inevitable challenges that you're going to face in day to day life. Just having that strong sense of why and purpose.
[00:41:35.970] – Allan
Thank you for that. So the book is called Adventure Ready: A Hiker's Guide to Planning, Training and Resiliency. If someone wanted to learn more about that book or learn more about you, Katie, or your co author Heather, where would you like for me to send them?
[00:41:50.290] – Katie
Sure. The best place to go would be katiegerber.com, which is my website, and then my co author and I, Heather, are both active on Instagram, and so mine is @katiegerber and she's @wordsofthewild. So you can find either of us there. And I have more information about those online courses that are the companion to the book there. There's also a free backpacker nutrition course on there. So lots of backpacking resources on the website for anyone who is interested in doing more long distance hiking, backpacking, day hiking, any of that. So I just want to help people get started and get out there safely and confidently.
[00:42:25.680] – Allan
Great. You can go to 40plusfitnesspodcast.com/544, and I'll be sure to have the links out there. Katie, thank you so much for being a part of 40 Plus Fitness.
[00:42:36.270] – Katie
Thanks so much for having me. It's a lot of fun talking to you.
[00:42:46.330] – Allan
Welcome back, Ras.
[00:42:47.890] – Rachel
Hey, Allan. What a great interview and listening to Katie talk, really just invigorated my excitement about hiking. And I've got a big hike plan this fall. We're supposed to be hiking across Isle Royal up in Lake Superior, Northern Michigan, and all the tips that she had to share with you were just fantastic. It was a great interview.
[00:43:09.260] – Allan
Yeah, it's a really good book. She and Katie and Heather, they're pros, they do this regularly, they've done it for a while and they know their things. They know their stuff. Heather having the record fastest known time for the trail, that's not something you just get showing up. You got to keep moving. You got to keep doing it. And so that's why I thought it was really important to have them on to talk about this book because a lot of people, this is an accessible thing for a lot of people now maybe not 2000, 2200 miles hike throughs, but that said, you break it into segments, you break it into pieces. Most of us are going to live within daily reaching distance to do a day trip, to go out and just do a day hike. And it's a great way to reconnect with nature. It's a great way to just get away from all the digital toxins and stuff in our lives. And don't take your phone except to have it in your pocket as a GPS if you get lost or to call for help. But this is a great opportunity for you to get out, see things that most people don't see because they don't bother to venture out.
[00:44:34.140] – Rachel
Oh, my gosh. Yeah. So many things to chat about. She had mentioned showing up in shape and being prepared, and I just wanted to highlight that going on a hike is a little different than just walking to your mailbox or walking through the grocery store or something. Sometimes these trails, like my little trail downtown that I use a lot, is asphalt paved. I can't get lost, so it's a perfect trail for me. But there's a lot of dirt trails and there's a lot of things to see out there, and it's a little bit of different type of hiking, and you need to be prepared for that. Different type of walking.
[00:45:06.590] – Allan
Yeah. And the weather and everything else. That's what in this book. That was one of the other things. They do a really good job of walking you through the planning. There's worksheets. There's all kinds of things in there for you to literally plan your hike and then go do your hike. I wanted to discuss that with her, the preparation, at least from a physical perspective and then from a mental perspective, because, yes, you can plan to use the hike as part of your training because if you do fewer miles, the beginning, and then you can build up your endurance and you can do more. And maybe if you're working really hard I know if I tried to take three months off to go do something like that, then I'm going to be working my butt off those last days, and they're going to be long days, and I'm not going to have training time during the week and maybe not even on the weekends as I'm trying to get myself ready to take that kind of time off to go do it. So, yeah, you train how you can with what you have to get yourself in the right kind of shape, because the worst thing you want to get into is that you throw that 40 pound pack on your back and you can't really even do it.
[00:46:21.230] – Allan
Your three month hike just became a three year hike because you can't do it. So you're going to want to be at some level of condition to be able to hit some mile markers. You're going to want to be able to put some miles in. So the training is important, but you will be able to somewhat train yourself to be better as you go. So you can even factor that a little bit into the plan of a gradual, I like to say gentle nudges of additional mileage as you go as long as again, and she even said this in the book, is you got to factor in your rest days. Probably Heather didn't take too many rest days when she was breaking the record, but when you're going at it, you might plan okay, we're going to be near this city there's town and I'm going to go act like a townie for a little while to eat restaurant food and sleep in a hotel bed and take showers, lots of showers. And then you can go for another sprint, but you have to factor in who you are, where you are and then do that and then the mental side of it, I was telling you before we got on the call I was going to do 9 miles Sunday and I kind of didn't feel really good about my digestive system when I have messy pants.
[00:47:38.640] – Allan
And so I thought so I stayed around town. So I was like, okay, I'm going to stay between my house and the gym. They're about a little over half a mile away. So I'm just walking down towards the gym and sort of walking right back towards the house and I do a couple of loops and I'm like, okay, I feel pretty good. And then I got about a mile out of town on an outback and so I'm somewhere around 5 miles and I noticed that my arm is chasing and it's very uncomfortable. And so now I have this do I quit or do I not scenario. And I was like, well, I have a mile to walk back and then I could put something on it. But then am I going to really want to get out and continue to do this or would I just quit? And so I was like, no, I'm just going to finish it. And this is uncomfortable, but I'm going to embrace the suck, if you will, and just keep going. And today I'm wearing a tank top. That was a tank top too, but I'm wearing a tank top with a much bigger drop in the sleeve so I'm not re scuffing it as I go.
[00:48:41.810] – Rachel
That's good. Yeah. We're preparing this trip for Isle Royal and we've been planning it for over a year. We're going to walk about 50 miles across from island end to end. And there are no showers, there's no gas stations to pick up food. So we're practicing everything that we need to have on this island right now. Actually, over the weekend, Mike and I were taste testing some different freeze dried foods, really lightweight camping foods that we'll be packing in. We're testing our equipment. We're making sure our tent can withheld some leaks if it rains. You know, there's a lot of planning that goes into that. But also while you can do some conditioning on a hike like that, it is good that you arrive at having practiced your equipment and know what it feels to wear a 30, 40, 50 pound backpack. I mean, there are certain things you can't just show up as a newbie. The first time Mike and I hiked Isle Royal with our family, gosh, I think it's going on 30 years ago. It was really neat to see this wonderful newly wed couple they had chosen Isle royal as their honeymoon vacation.
[00:49:51.320] – Rachel
And the woman had never hiked before in her life. And when we did find them at the end of the island, her feet were just blistered because she didn't practice her boots, she wasn't prepared for the backpack. I mean, they're just a myriad of problems that she had. But she gutted it out, she made it to the end, which is amazing. But my best advice, if you want a successful and happy and fun trip, is to show up fit and practice to the best of your ability.
[00:50:19.850] – Allan
And that's what the preparation is key. And that's one of the things that this book is really good about, because it asks you all the questions, like something you're going to say, like, you were just talking about food. How many calories will you be burning every day? So how many do you need to consume to maintain? And so it's not the normal, what you eat. You can say, Well, I only eat 1600 calories a day. That's when you're sitting at the computer doing your job, driving around, you're not walking 12,15, 20 miles a day or more. Because some of these hikes, they're doing eight to 10 hours of movement per day, easily. And so they're looking at their calorie requirements and say, Okay, that's easily 3000 calories. And this is for woman, it's a lot, but they need to have that amount of calories. And how much do all those calories weigh? Because if you're carrying a casserole dish, yes, it's heavy. So, yeah, the freeze dried stuff, the granola stuff like that, and then get knowing that it's something you can tolerate. Because the worst case thing is that you get out there and you eat something that doesn't agree with you, and you're not making your miles those days because you're in a bush in a squat position.
[00:51:50.000] – Rachel
Yeah, that's a problem. We have very precise transportation on both sides of the island. We get dropped off at a certain time and then we get picked up on the other side of the island in, I think, seven or eight days. So we need to be there no matter what, otherwise we're getting off the island. It's very important that you know how to practice all these things. And like she said, the mental aspect of it, if you've got blisters, you've got an upset stomach, you've got shaping, these things are very common and you need to be mentally prepared to push through it. Like in our case, when we have a very specific time, we need to meet our planes. There's a lot to it, but it's so fun.
[00:52:33.010] – Allan
Well, you do need to check out this book. I think this will help you a lot.
[00:52:36.560] – Rachel
I think it will. Thank you so much.
[00:52:38.680] – Allan
Right, well, I'll talk to you next week.
[00:52:41.470] – Rachel
[00:52:42.450] – Allan
[00:52:43.170] – Rachel
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