6 Steps to Starting a Hiking Adventure

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Fall is the perfect time to head outdoors, take your workout off the beaten path and blast off calories while taking in the beautiful colors of the fall. It’s also a great way to add a little seasoning to your every running program and recuperate from the demands of summer mileage. It’s an active way to appreciate the beauty of fall. Here are a few tips to get started.

Plan ahead. Find a scenic trail in your area or upcoming destination at Trails.com. If you know a park in your area, type in the name online and see what you can find. Many provide maps, tours and places to easily access the trail head. Better yet, make it social and look for hiking clubs and guided trips in your area to network with other like-minded hikers and learn about the trails. Start with flat-to-rolling terrain and gradually progress to more advanced trails.

Make a list and check it twice.  Play it safe and pack a personal kit to be prepared.  Make a checklist and include the following items in a lightweight backpack.  For a short hike in your local park or trail, pack a map, water, whistle, phone, ID, hat, light snack and sunscreen. If you’re headed to more technical trails in the deep woods, add a compass, several snacks or PB&J’s (trail mix works great), rain gear, long sleeve top (no cotton), first aid kit, knife and flashlight.

Gear up for adventure.  You can start your hiking journey wearing your walking or running shoes, however if you find that you enjoy hiking, you’ll benefit from investing in a lightweight pair of hiking shoes or boots.  They are lower to the ground to avoid rolling ankles, provide a supportive shank in the sole to protect your feet from rocks, roots and vines and will improve traction on the trail.   If you’re heading into an extended hiking trip in the mountains, consider going with hiking boots for added support.  Companies like Salomon, Montrail, and The North Face offer a wide variety of shoes and boots.   Wear a pedometer to track your steps or use a GPS to monitor your distance and location and on the map.

Think time, rather than distance.  Hiking is a lot more demanding than walking due to the terrain and tricky footing.  It is wise to start out at an easy-to-moderate “conversational” effort level and conserve energy for the final stretch. Start with a short 1-2 mile loop or an out-in-back course by time in minutes to allow to identify your hiking pace on that trail and to better gauge how long it will take you to complete various hikes in the future.  The hillier the trail, the slower the pace will be.

Burn more calories in less time.  Hiking is a fantastic calorie burning activity (400 calories per hour 150 pound woman) on its own, and you can burn up to 30-40% more calories on every hike just by adding trekking poles!  Plus they provide stability on the trail, reduce impact forces by 25% by balancing the impact across four limbs,and help you propel up hills.  Like cross-country skiing they utilize every muscle in the body!  Find more information on trekking poles at walkingpoles.com.

Play it safe.  There is safety in numbers – join a group or ask a buddy or bring the family. Know the environment before you head out to avoid run-in’s with poisonous plants and animals.  Research the weather before you go and have extra gear to be safe.  Always tell someone where and when you’re hiking and leave a note with a map and time you left and plan to return in your car.

3 Comments

  • Anonymous says:

    Regarding personal safety for women while out hiking, I'd like to share a safety technique which I believe all women should be made aware of. It's a self defense technique called the "Grab, twist, and pull" technique, in which you simultaneously grab, twist and pull on a male attackers testicles as hard as you can. This is an extremely effective technique which I've learnt in Krav Maga self defense classes for women, and one that is so effective that it's even being referred to as "The NO-FAIL self defense technique for women and girls".

    We just have to remember these points:

    – DO NOT LET GO OF HIS TESTICLES! Wait until you either feel or hear a "pop" or your attacker slides unconscious to the ground in agony (usually in under 8 seconds after he freezes and curls up due to the intense pain).

    – It's easiest to do when the testicles are exposed (very likely in a sex attack)

    – It's just as effective even if you only manage to grab hold of one testicle.

    – it doesn't matter how big and strong an attacker is, his testicles will always remain vulnerable to this technique

    I believe that this knowledge should be shared with as many other women as possible – it could one day be a life saver.

  • Helen Bailey says:

    I have been teaching Krav Maga to women and girls for over 5 years now and we teach a technique which should be in every woman and girls arsenal.

    This is the "groin grab" self defense technique to use against a male attacker which is taught in many womens self defense classes, and there is actually a little trick to it… We are a women only event, run by women, for women, and this is what we teach to women of all ages:

    You’re going to take your hand and grasp between the attackers thighs underhand. Its going to feel like you’re “cradling” the testicles. Dig your fingertips into the fragile skin BEHIND the scrotum. Then, once you have a good grip, you turn your hand into a vice, with your fingers digging inwards, around the back and over the top of the testicles. If you do it right, you should feel the testes INSIDE your hand which is holding the scrotum. You want, whenever possible, to hook your fingers over at least one testicle. One of them is enough.

    Then, with your hands in a claw and your fingertips latched around the testes, you turn your hand sharply, as though you were turning a doorknob. Simultaneously, squeeze and pull the testicles away from his body as fast and as hard as you can. Do not let go of them. What happens then, is that your assailant usually screams out in pain and then tries to grab the wrist of your hand holding him in a futile attempt to try to get you to release him. Don't. He then quickly loses one of the natural advantages he usually has over us (his strength) within a matter of seconds. Vomiting, curling over, collapsing and convulsing is common. Shock and unconsciousness can set in within 8 seconds. When he collapses, which he will, you get away to safety as quickly as possible and report the crime.

    It's never too late to perform this at any stage of an attack, and that even includes the option of reaching down if he's on top of you, but it is easiest to do when the testicles are exposed and closest to you where you can grab hold of them. I’ve actually met several women in my life who have fought off their attackers in this way and one did it when her attacker was on top of her and raping her at the point he lost control. Don't ever hold back. Some women scream while they are doing this, and some women think of a loved one being harmed to help overcome any bad feelings of hurting someone else even if they are being hurt themselves. Do whatever you have to do if it helps.

    If done properly, and done with enough force, this technique can even lead to the testicles rupturing. It’s actually easier to do than most women believe, and just about all of us have the capability to injure an attackers testicles in this way – whether we are young girls still of school age, or whether we are great grandmothers. After all, if you think about it testicles are just small objects of extreme vulnerability to pain squishiness wrapped in a delicate flap of skin which offers them no protection at all from this kind of counterattack to them. Most importantly, this fact holds true no matter what size your attacker is, nor how strong he is. And no matter how angry he is, nor how much he's threatened what he's going to do to you, he's going to drop. Don't let anyone (usually men) try to convince you otherwise.

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