Yesterday I did 10 miles (by combining two trails) and I surprised about how easy it was. Almost too easy. I did some things different this time around -- some as an experiment -- and it all seemed to come together well.
Rather than wear my usual khaki shorts and a white t-shirt, I went to Wal-Mart and got a pair of mesh polyester running shorts and a white polyester mesh running shirt. Total cost: $14.00. The mesh allows for a lot of airflow that helps keep you cooler. The bonus for me was that the shorts were double-lined so underwear wasn't needed and it felt as good as hiking nude.
Fluids and Electrolytes
For taste, plain old water is best but when sweating a lot it's very important to replace lost electrolytes (salt and potassium) so in addition to my 3 liter CamelBak reservoir, I also brought just over a half liter of a home made electrolyte drink.
Here's how you can make your own. One half liter of a typical sports drink contains about 60 mg of potassium and 220 mg of sodium. To create your own tasty electrolyte drink in about the same ratios, add 4 tablespoons of lemon juice to 500ml of water. Lemon juice has a lot of potassium in it. To that, add a little bit less than 1/8th of teaspoon of salt (1/10th of teaspoon is about perfect.) For extra flavor, you can add a very small amount sugar-free Koolaide mix. Compared to the cost of any pre-made or dry mix drink, this is dirt cheap.
I made it a point to drink a mouthful of water every 5 minutes or so and drank half of the electrolyte drink after a couple hours and then the rest a couple hours after that. As an added treat, I filled the water reservoir with two trays of ice cubes before topping it off with water and the water stayed cold the entire hike.
There is a line of thought that says pain makes you stronger. Sorry, but pain means that something is wrong. It also slows you down significantly. For every 60 minutes of continuous walking, I stopped and sat down for 8 to 10 minutes. Happily, it worked out that there was a nice big boulder to sit on at each stopping point. Anyway, when you take an 8 to 10 minute break, you give your body enough time to flush out about 35% of the lactic acid and other metabolic wastes that builds up in your muscles. Your legs will feel a whole lot better and you can go a whole lot further in less time. Overall, you will more than make up for the down time. I sure did.