Last weekend I traveled West for a Grand Canyon trekking weekend. On Saturday we traveled from the South Rim to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. We slept and then at 5:20 am on Sunday trekked from the North Rim back to the South end for a two day total of 50 miles. Each day my total time-averaged around eleven hours which included many breaks. My personal walking time was 8:52 heading North and 8:49 heading back South for an average pace just shy of 3 miles per hour. There were 6400 feet of elevation change to the North end and a 4400 to the Southside. Temperatures each day started around 25 degrees and peaked around 85 degrees. This was actually a very desirable time of year for hiking the Canyon. It could have been much hotter. Since records have been kept, 12 people die each year in the Grand Canyon. A few are intentional (suicide) but most are arrogance regarding preparation and accidents due to a lack of appreciating one of the seven wonders of the world.
One to leave no stone unturned I deployed a multifaceted preparation schedule to make my experience enjoyable. I wanted to appreciate all that the Canyon had to offer without wondering if I would make it to the other side in one piece. I want to share three important exercises that paid off tremendously over the weekend. Rucking Box Stepovers
Each descent and assent has numerous steps and erosion barriers. There are also rock bed and natural trail barriers throughout 25 miles in each direction. In summary, stepping is going on for the duration of your trek. Living in the concrete jungle affords limited opportunities for this type of training. As a result, I utilized a gym bench and a weighted RUCK. With my weighted RUCK, I performed hundreds of box stepovers over the course of my preparation. Utilizing a three-week wave, I increased my time on stepovers from 20 minutes to 60 minutes and included some pre-fatigue strategies. I would do these once if not twice per week depending upon other training variables.
Sandbag Get Ups
Carrying weight on your back in the form of hydration, food, and gear presents a unique midline challenge. Get-ups are tremendous. Sandbag get-ups are even better.
I performed these as a density set. Each time attempting to get more reps in for a prescribed amount of time. These should be performed once and depending upon your strengths up to three times per week.
Lower Leg Focus
The final movement falls under the heading of prehabilitation. Any smart Grand Canyon program includes a considerable amount of walking, hiking or RUCKING. One could reach 50,000 steps for one RimToRim day. Posterior and anterior calf work is essential. Don't exclude this!
These should also be progressed utilizing a three-week wave. Again depending upon the athlete these could be performed 5 days per week and for up to 300 reps per session.
My total time fell into the average range for all successful Rim2Rim efforts. I might have been able to trek a little faster but that wasn't the objective.
I consumed 6 liters of water and 2 liters of electrolytes each day. I didn't calculate my solid food intake but it was probably on the low end of calories considering the duration. More importantly, I held up structurally and while my feet were a little sore Sunday and Monday morning I was able to roll normally within five minutes of rising.
This is a small offering of what it takes to prepare. I observed a number of individuals riding the struggle bus both days. I'll point to the preparation phase for their uncomfortable conditions. There are smart ways to prepare for this. Do your homework. A Rim2Rim effort is no picnic.