One of my favorite extracurriculars has always been hiking/trail running. Not only is it a great workout but its a perfect time to allow my brain to engage in something other than work. The whole experience feels like a sort of meditation. An intentional time to check out of the world and into myself.
So, whether your first hike, or your five-hundredth (which probably means you don't need to be reading this) I've pulled together a couple of things I've found are crucial for a good hike.
1. FIND A GOOD PODCAST / CREATE A PLAYLIST
Don't get me wrong, half of the reason I love hiking instead of a gym sesh is to be able to tap into nature. So for the sake of that, and for safety, I typically only leave one ear bud in while on the mountain. But, I also find it helpful to have something else to focus on aside from my burning muscles on the way up. And I love a good podcast.
For the way down (usually at a faster pace) I like to tap into a good playlist. I suggest finding or creating one with a good tempo to pace yourself to. Spotify is King.
2. INVEST IN SOME GOOD GEAR
Good gear is critical. Especially when hiking/trail running. Nobody wants a rolled ankle, nor do you want to run out of water halfway through. I'm not an expert, let me make that abundantly clear. But do some research! Find what works for you. I've found that the four things I can't do without are:
A good pair of shoes: I run in nikes
A good bag: I shamelessly use a fanny pack -- find what works for you! I've found I need something to hold my keys, water & phone.
Sunglasses: And not something that bounces all over your face. Find something with UV protection and thick side arms!
Smart Clothing: I advise against cotton. No thank you chaffing. No Thank you swamp ass. I'm a huge fan of Dry Fit Tech & Under Armour as a whole.
3. BE TRAIL SMART
I can not tell you how many time I've almost slammed into people or fallen off the mountain because people refuse to stick to their side of the trail. I would say the basics of hiking are the same as driving on a narrow road. If someone is coming (especially if they are running) just move to the side. ALWAYS YOUR RIGHT. Don't make this a case of Awkward Squirrel. Use common sense. Read the situation. Slow down or stop and move as far right as possible and/or is necessary to let them pass.
4. REMEMBER YOUR BODY
Y'ALL. HYDRATE. ALWAYS. And then do some research. Figure out what your body needs pre-hike to stay fueled, as well as the best way for you to treat your mind and muscles to some recovery post-hike.
++ Do you have any hiking essentials? Let me know in the comments!