I decided to start that first hike on a whim. It was the best decision I could have made at the time, but besides a five kilometer walk to my grandparents, I didn’t get to doing any training.
When I started the Wales Coast Path I had never hiked for longer than two hours, didn’t break in my hiking boots or got used to the backpack. I did have some experience camping, but even that was limited.
I wish I had trained, at least a bit. The first few days I was going much slower than I anticipated and I didn’t nearly cover as much ground as I hoped. The blisters on my feet were impossible to ignore and my body was aching under the load of my pack.
At that time the physical hardship was exactly what I needed to distract my mind, but soon my the skin on my Achilles tendon was throbbing and it turned to an angry red color. After a few days rest I was able to continue my hike, but I had lost precious hiking time. About two weeks before my return flight I started to feel a sharp pain in my shoulder and my fingers would start to tingle every now and then. When I ran into a physiotherapist -what are the odds, right?- she concluded that my shoulder was overworked and advised me to rest for at least two weeks. That meant no backpack and thus no hiking.
I wasn’t able to finish the hike. I am sure that if I had trained, I would have made it. Even though I was disappointed at the time, looking back I’m convinced there are two kinds of hikes: those you start to get to the finish line and those you do for the journey. Most of my hikes are a combination of both, but Wales was definitely all about the journey.
Do you train for your hikes? Do you hike to get to the finish line or for the journey?