Hobbies have always been something that makes people happy. Perhaps this starts with an interest. For hypothetical purposes, let’s say art. You draw a smiley face. This smiley face is better than everybody else’s smiley face, and multiple people tell you that you should create more smiley faces. You start to feel proud and competent when drawing and presenting your smiley faces. Eventually, this becomes part of your identity. Something you feel a special connection with.
In the last couple of years, hobbies have become significantly more important. Whatever the pursuit is, you likely feel connected and valuable when expressing yourself through your hobby. One hobby that has become somewhat of a trend is hiking. Not only do people hike for sport, but they hike for mental health, physical fitness, to experience beautiful views, or to take Instagram photos. Whatever the reason, hiking could become your new hobby. Now, just like those smiley faces, you will feel proud and competent if you hike like a professional. You are not expected to be the world’s best hiker on day one, but if you utilize some of the following skills, perhaps one day you might be. Becoming really good at something takes practice, so listen up as we explore our way through the best ways to hike like a professional.
If you have gone through any type of rigorous workout, you know that pacing yourself is key. You aren’t going to perform a 3oolbs deadlift and then immediately go run 3 miles. You take a good 60 seconds to catch your breath before jumping to the next exercise. That is unless you are crazy at the gym and are a self-titled gym rat. Hiking isn’t that far off from working out in the weight room. It’s all about pace and progress. To hike like a professional, it is good to know where your limits are. That does not mean that you can’t push your limits in the future, but just identify where they are. Anybody can hike, which is why it is such a fantastic exercise. Whatever accommodations you need, incorporate them into your pace. For some, this might mean stopping every 20 minutes to catch their breath, and for others, it is considering medical resources before beginning and hike and planning accordingly. The most challenging exercise you will ever encounter is the one that circles your mind. Your body can handle it, I promise.
How to Prepare
The days, weeks, or months leading up to a more significant hike are pivotal. Stretching, cardio, weight training, or really any type of exercise will help you prep for any upcoming hike. Obviously, if there are forms of rock climbing for a more intense hike joining a rock-climbing gym would be a great idea. Other training methods can be incorporated, such as building up grip strength, rigorous cardio to strengthen the lungs, heart, and larger muscle groups, or even bodyweight exercises to get you comfortable mobilizing the weight of your body are all fantastic options.
While you consider the prep work, including training and pace, let’s not forget about comfort. If you join the hiking community, you will start to notice that some hikes are definitely more comfortable than others. Some things obviously cannot be helped, such as sore muscles, but other things can make your journey a little easier.
For starters, shoes. It is so important to have a good pair of hiking shoes. There are hundreds of options available to suit your foot, climate, and style. Unfortunately, there really is not a good way to cut costs with a good pair of hiking shoes unless you buy them second-hand. Stores like REI tend to have pre-worn hiking shoes, which may help you in this area.
Any good hiker carries a pack. This can include water, food, first aid kits, protein powder, or even some layers if you plan to hike in the morning or night. Adjust your pack periodically throughout the hike. Not only does this help you stay mobile will force you to take brief breaks while doing so. Adjusting the shoulders or clips in the front are great ways to keep you loose. Maintaining a good amount of food and water in your pack is another great idea. You don’t want to dehydrate along this journey, so make sure you come prepared. Don’t be afraid to set down whatever you are carrying during this period. This can be applied to hiking methods and to our everyday lives. Taking a moment to breathe without a heavy load is a great way to release a bit.
While on your hiking endeavors, make sure you get what you came for. Everybody has different agendas on a hike. Some want to bond with their hiking buddies, and the journey is more about just that, the journey. Others want to break records and really push themselves. Perhaps some of you want to stuff a hammock in your pack and spend 3 hours chilling off the side of a cliff. These are all really great options but make sure you take the time to do so. Keep your goal in mind before starting your climb.
Way to Go!
After you have come full circle from your hike, make sure you tell yourself what a good job you did. Maybe this doesn’t seem so “pro like,” but more often than not, we forget to congratulate ourselves on significant accomplishments. Congratulate yourself on starting because that’s half the battle and upon completion as that’s where the mental game comes into play. Hiking is challenging, and it takes a lot of determination and mental strength to get really good at it.
As you begin this journey of becoming a hiking pro, be kind to yourself. Hobbies can be a challenge to start and finish. If you are experiencing difficulty finding motivation, perhaps ask a group of friends along. Just because something is challenging doesn’t mean it can’t be fun. Maybe you can ask that one friend who draws outstanding smiley faces. I heard he went viral on Tik Tok for making people happy.