We started this spring with Training Goals 2019 (the backpacking goals are 40 miles in 10-mile increments, or legs, with the dogs carrying 30% of their weight, which sounds like a lot, but it’s 5 miles in, take a lunch break, and 5 miles out — not so bad.) I’ll get vet-scale weights as we get into the backpacks more. We can also substitute a 10-mile leg for an overnight camp-out in the middle of a 10-mile hike. We’re doing this partly so the dogs have something to do and partly to improve my health after surgery. The hiking is really kicking my butt, but I’m determined to get healthier than I was pre-surgery. At my (middle) age, it’s now or never. So here’s the plan.
Training Plan Increments
Distance & weight are 2 different training factors. So like with obedience training a STAY, you train time before adding distance. With packing, we’ll train distance before adding weight. The five stages of distance training routes we are using all start in my driveway (which is essential to getting in the necessary training miles) and are:
Training Routes (Distance)
- 3 miles. Fairly level terrain with some uneven ground for the first 3/4 mile and the last 3/4 mile. The middle part is either sloped grassy shoulders or asphalt (excellent for building iron feet). This route builds stamina and works the muscles in my lower legs (feet, ankles, and lower calves.) This is the Firehall-to-Roddy-Store-and-back route, 3.03 miles.
- 1 mile with elevation. This route has uneven ground for the first and last 1/2 miles, with gravel or leafy concrete driveways in the middle with most of the 300-foot elevation climb in a 1/4 mile span up and then you lose the same elevation in a separate 1/4 span down again. This route really works the thighs. This is the Matt’s-House-and-around route, 1 mile.
- 4.28+ miles, all woods, no streets or roads. This is on the ridgeline and woods behind my property, between the house and the lake with a perfect hammock hang site lakeside. It also mimics Cumberland Trail conditions better than our other training trails. 4.28+ miles.
- 5.2 miles. This is Roddy-Rd-to-Huber-&-back, 5.2 miles. First and last 3/4 miles are uneven natural ground, the middle is all graveled country roads.
- 8.2 miles. This route is Firehall-to-Roddy-Rd-to-Huber-to-Whites-Creek-&-shortcut-home-via-Clacks-Crossing, 8.2 miles. First 3/4 & last 1/4 miles are uneven natural ground, the middle 3/4 mile is river rock and sand, the rest is graveled country roads.
- 9.7 miles. Firehall-to-Roddy-Rd-to-Huber-to-Whites-Creek-passed-Clacks-Crossing-to-Roddy-Rd-to-Firehall-&-back, 9.7 miles. The same as the 8m route, except no short-cut home across Clacks Crossing. First and last 3/4 miles are uneven natural ground, the middle 3/4 mile is river rock and sand, the rest is graveled country roads.
Once we conquer some distance and condition our feet and legs (and I do mean OUR), we’ll start adding packs & weight.
- Loose-leash walking (no weight),
- Empty-pack hiking (2-4#),
- Half-pack hiking (15% of the dog’s weight), and
- Full-pack hiking (30% of the dog’s weight).
What about me?
Yes, I’ve got an Osprey Exos pack for ultralight backpacking. Empty it weighs 2.2#. My 3-season over-night hammock kit weighs 12# (without consumables like water & food). So after the dogs add an empty pack, so will I. When they add weight, so will I.
For the dogs who will be hiking for qualifying legs I’ll get a weight on a certified vet-scale, but in general, they’ll be packing something like this:
|Dog’s Weight||Empty Pack||Half-pack 15%||Full-pack 30%|
But we’ll start with no-weight, no-pack and work on feet & leg conditioning (dog & person), and building our distances before we start adding weight.
At least that’s the plan so far.