When I was on my solo trip this year, I used a tactic similar to one that I used the year before to make sure I got sufficient rest and took regular breaks. I had a timer set for 50 minutes and when it went off, it was time for a break.
Now, last year, I was a bit more flexible with it, because if I came across water, which I did with great frequency in the Sawtooths, then I might want to stop and fill up outside of my 50 minute intervals. In the desert, there was no water to tempt me to stop early or keep walking until I reached it.
I hiked for 50 minutes and then I stopped for 5 to 10, sometimes sitting down on the ground with my pack on, sometimes standing with my pack off. I also tried to limit my “bathroom” breaks to those breaks so I wouldn’t impinge on the 50 minute intervals with activities that tended to take a long time.
And, sometimes I thought about how Crossfit had prepared me for such a strange thing as hiking over 25 miles in a day.
I explicitly thought of the intervals in Crossfit terms – they were the time domains for my “AMSAPs” – as many steps as possible. I never counted the steps, but I could pay attention to the mileage. I was travelling between 2 and 2.5 miles every 50 minutes.
I hurt while I walked. My feet hurt, my legs ached, my shoulders were bruised after the first half day.
But I kept on moving, pushing through the pain to get to the next rise. To finish the next interval. To get to a place where I could stop for the night and make my miles the next day.
I’m not going to be backpacking like this for the rest of the summer, because I’ll be travelling with my husband. He’s slower than I am. On trails we both know, I might still hike intervals, but my rests will be waiting for him to catch up, and they’ll be longer than 10 minutes most likely.
But now that I know what it’s like to maintain that kind of pace, I won’t forget.