Consider this a low-intensity marathon: Repeating the same motion for hours on end will slowly sap your quads and glutes, making the last few miles feel like a slog through quicksand.
Muscular endurance, as opposed to raw strength, is your goal. In our plan, you’ll build a cardiovascular base that will keep oxygen flowing to your aching legs. You’ll also do exercises specifically targeted at building a lean lower body that can go both hard and long, so your pace doesn’t falter when you hit the last hills.
The ingredients are simple: strength-building, aerobic activity, and rest. And the routine is simple: two strength circuits per week, one of which follows an aerobic workout so your muscles get used to working hard after a sweat session. And take 2 days off.
Get Fit: The Overview
During the week, go for two hikes or trail runs, concentrating on a quick pace; work up to a 75-minute session about 2 weeks out. Carry a light pack.
On weekends, mix it up. Spend a day doing whatever cardio activity you enjoy–basketball, mountain biking, whatever. Start with an hour, and work up to 4 hours about 2 weeks before your big dayhike. The other weekend day, hike with your full-weight pack: Your first week out, cover half the distance and elevation gain you will reach during your goal hike; build up to 75 percent 3 weeks before the big day. On the next several pages you’ll find an 8-week, 7-day training plan to really help you get fit.