Matt HealeySunday,23 June 2013

The Snap:

While hiking the Appalachian Trail (AT) you need to take zero days. I have written about this before. I have taken this to a new level and I take zero weeks. The most recent was for my anniversary. My wife and I spent it in Bermuda. So I went from eating Ramen noodles on trail to multi-course dinners overlooking the beach.

The Download:

The thing about taking a week of zeros is that you have to keep working out so that you do not lose your trail legs. You will inevitably lose some of the conditioning associated with being on trail every day, but if you can run or bike or get to the gym you will not lose all of it. This will make the re-entry to trail life easier. So while I was off I still managed to workout 4 days.

However, keeping fit is only part of the equation. If you want to return to the trail refreshed, you also need to make sure that you do not burn yourself out while off trail. So for me this involves two things. The first is getting a massage while off trail for a while. There is nothing better than a message to loosen up sore muscles, and trust me, after 600 miles on the AT you have sore muscles. The second is to taper the workouts. For me this means not exercising at all the last 3 days before you return to the trail. By doing nothing you ensure that you have no residual soreness or aches and pains before returning. That way you can start out at peak shape. Granted, by day 3 or 4 you will be sore and aching again, but at least you can start out pain free.

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Image Credit: Matt Healey

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