I have just completed the Appalachian Trail, a long distance hike that goes from Georgia to Maine. One question people often ask is – what can you do to train for a 2,000 mile hike? Most hikers will answer: nothing. The first half of the trail is your training for the next half.
But I have found that my 3 months of intensive training at Systema HQ Torontojust before hitting the trail was a perfect preparation for this long hike. Systema definitely helped me in many ways while I was hiking the Appalachian Trail. Here are a few direct applications that I have experienced time after time:
- Walking: Being conscious of how I walked helped me proceed in a more efficient way and prevent injuries.
- Breathing: The one step to inhale, one step to exhale pattern that we practice in Systema really helps going up long and hard slopes. Knowing you need only enough air to get the other leg forward and not to go all the way up the mountain helps a lot: just take it one step at a time and before you know it, it's all over and you can keep going without having to stop and catch your breath.
- Falling: Systema probably saved me on my trip quite a few times. Rocks, roots, trees... or cliffs, it's easy to hurt yourself in the mountains, especially when you have to carry a big backpack. But having fallen so many times in training classes has changed my attitude towards the ground. When I slipped, tripped or stumbled, my first concern was not "how can I not fall" anymore but "how can I go to the ground with the least possible damage". In 5 months, the worst that happened was me getting back up on my feet half covered in thick mud.
- Napping: I like naps. They are a great way to recover and break the day. But what should one do when there is no bed around and no grassy patch to be seen? I now find that that a nice flattish rock would do just fine: just lie down on it, feel the rock, breathe, relax and it becomes quite comfortable!
About the Author: Zoe resides in France and trains with Systema instructor Aziz Drabia at Systema Grand North in Lille.
To enhance your health, athletic potential and everyday resilience, here are great instructional resources by Vladimir Vasiliev:
•Systema Breathing on DVD or downloadable
•Breath for Internal Control on DVD or downloadable
•Let Every Breath book
TRAIN AT SYSTEMA HQ TORONTO
Breathing classes are part of the program offered at the Toronto School, taught by Vladimir and his senior instructors. Group classes are held daily Monday through Saturday. Additional private sessions are available.
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