We are knee deep into November and it's time to start thinking about goals for the 2023 trail season, if you haven't already started thinking and planning already.
I want to preface this by saying you do not have to have substantial goals to train for the trails. The trails are absolutely for recreation, getting out into nature, and enjoying the movement. Honestly, most of my trail clients train for recreational trail purposes, not to complete certain races or climb crazy mountains.
If you do want to create trail goals for 2023, we are here for it!
Unless you live in a location near mountains, often you're traveling either by car or plane + car to get to your trail-fun destinations. This means planning and preparation likely take place well in advance. Especially if it's a longer distance hike or run to ensure you feel physically and mentally prepared.
If you're starting to brainstorm now, it's likely you're planning for something between April-October 2023. Let's get started --
Steps to planning your 2023 trail adventure:
1. Determine your training availability. Will you have time to train through the off-season? Will you have enough time to address any lingering injuries? Depending on your adventure and fitness level, you'll likely want to train 3-5x/week.
2. Decide on a destination, trail, or multiple. I'm going to use Grand Canyon as an example because it's a trail destination I've already planned for and completed. Here's a full recap of that trip.
3. Take a look at the weather. What time of year is going to be best for the conditions you'd prefer? Are you willing to risk less than ideal weather for less crowds? If yes, will you have enough time and access to equipment to be prepared? Is the destination or trail closed or have limited access at certain times of year? For example, when I was planning for the Grand Canyon, I researched what month would provide preferable weather along with when the shuttle service would be available. (Ultimately, my boyfriend was an absolute gem and drove from the North Rim to the South Rim to pick us up, but there are shuttle services that provide this, as well.)
4. Finalize plans with your support system, especially if you need assistance onsite at the event. (Using the word "event" loosely). This could include asking for time-off from work, asking for onsite help from your significant other, family, or friends, or confirming plans with your trainer, coach, and any other prominent figures in your training. For the Rim-2-Rim, this meant finalizing plans with those who were participating, those who were shuttling (my boyfriend), and notifying my clients I'll be out.
5. Hire a trainer (hi, it me!) or resource a reliable training program to begin building your base and develop aerobic capacity for your adventure! Often we go hiking with zero preparation. "It's walking, right?" We already know I preach strength training for hikers and trail runners (and for all humans), but it is especially important if you are training for an event. You'll want to strength train to stay healthy (muscles, joints, bones, immune system, etc.), to feel strong when you're several miles in, and to be more efficient.
6. Plan for what equipment or gear you may need. I am all for wearing whatever gym clothes you've had since sophomore year of college, but for certain trail goals, you will likely want to purchase appropriate gear. Whether it's due to potential weather conditions, comfort levels, or planned duration out in the wilderness. Investing in specific clothing items and safety gear will be worth it!
7. Have fun!