After a long day snowshoeing on a trail or making your way up a steep mountain side, your body tends to get tired. Often times, a lot of the pain and soreness happens at the beginning of the hike, which can prevent people from carrying on. It’s not until later that the muscles work up the strength to keep you going.
It’s no secret. As enjoyable as hiking is, it can be seriously hard work. Your whole body gets exhausted, which quickly causes your mental state to deteriorate. You start to feel like you should give up…that if your body can’t get you through it, neither can your attitude.
But, we’ve all been there before. We know what it feels like when you hit a trail and think, “Wow. I totally wasn’t prepared for this.” Most of the time, though, you CAN do it. You just may need to take breaks along the way. So, here’s how you take breaks while you hike so you can finish it with pride (instead of passing out).
Go at a Pace That You’re Comfortable With
This is another reason why hiking solo is good. You don’t have to worry about waiting up for people or catching up to people. You just go at the pace you’re comfortable with. Everyone goes at different speeds and if it feels like the rest of the group is jogging the trail while you’re struggling just to put one foot in front of the other, you’re going to have a problem.
Listen to Your Body
When your body is telling you to take a rest, when you feel like you really can’t go on much longer, then you must listen to your body. Even if the rest of the gang can continue going, pushing yourself too hard is only going to make it more difficult in the long run. So, as soon as you’ve gotten to that point where you really need to rest, then do that. If you don’t want to be slowing your group down the entire time nor be the odd one out, then it’s best to arrange frequent breaks with your group before setting off. Also, it would help to hike with people that are around the same level as you.
Always Keep It Moving
Don’t confuse the word “break” with completely stopping. After working hard for the last hour or so (or whenever your last break was) the worst thing you can do is sit down and take a nap. Your heart is pumping hard and if you just stop altogether, you can really get ill. Also, it will make it harder when it’s time to get going again. Instead, walk around a little bit or at least stay standing until you feel your body settle down.
Have a Snack or Two (and Water)
One reason you need to take a break while you hike may not because your legs are tired. It may be because you’re feeling hungry. Carry snacks with you on your hike that are nutritious, give you energy, and aren’t too filling. Things like nuts, dried fruit, or granola bars are a good way to go. Make sure you also drink A LOT of water while you take a break. If you’re not stopping to relieve yourself every so often, then you’re not drinking enough.
Remember to Stretch
Before you resume your hike after taking a break, it’s important to get some good stretches in. Stretching keeps the blood following, works out your muscles, and helps prevent injury. While you should definitely stretch before you hike as well as do a few workouts in the days leading up to it, stretching whenever you take a break can keep you strong.
Sometimes, changing up a few small things while you hike can affect how many breaks you’ll need to take. Things like getting into shape beforehand, practicing smaller hikes, wearing supportive shoes, and using trekking poles can really make a difference.