It’s important to keep track of risk factors so that you can try to mitigate them. This year on my hike of the FLT, I’m trying to keep a pretty good pace so the chance of failure is quite high. On hikes of this type I have about a 50% success rate, so I’m not really exaggerating that chance. This year the main things I’m worried about are:
- Heel problems – I’ll call it heel problems because it hasn’t been fully diagnosed yet. It’s either very rear plantar fascitis, insertional Achilles tendinopathy, or bursitis. Basically aching rear heel because of overuse. To mitigate this, I immediately stopped by training plan when it started (3 weeks before the hike) and moved to lower impact exercises, lower length strengthening, and lots of yoga/stretching.
- Runner’s knee – This has stopped more of my extreme hikes than anything. Basically 3-4 days of heavy use and I start getting acute pain in my knees from overly tight IT bands. I’ve been doing a lot of classic exercises (clamshells, leg lifts, etc.) and stretches throughout my whole training plan and even pre-training. But it’s hard to know if it’s enough. I’m also planning on trying to stretch it out at the end of every day.
- Heat exhaustion – The first hike I ever failed at I ended up literally crawling out of the woods and paying someone 20 dollars to drive me back to my car. I believe it was some combination of dehydration and undertraining but it really caught me off-guard and I’ve been better about hydrating and pushing myself since then. Heat still really slows me down though so enough heat and my pace might get too slow to make my targets.