Cynergy CrossFit — functional fitness preparation
for a 2200 mile hike on the Appalachian Trail — for a retired couple!
Wishing Don and Jan Orcutt all the best as they embark upon their incredible journey! Here is their story……
Janeen and I will start February 20 from Springer Mountain Georgia and our objective is to complete a thru hike of the 2200 mile Appalachian Trail and summit Mount Katahdin in Maine. . While many finish in 5 or 6 months our objective is to experience everything the trail offers and to simply, complete the Trail. We figure, the day we finish, we will know how long it took us. We know we will be on trail 5-6 days a week and hiking at 80 – 100 mile weeks. We do know we need to get through the White Mountains and Maine before Autumn weather makes it to risky for us. The trail spans 14 States and takes about 500,000,000 steps but we are not planning on counting them! The total amount of elevation and descent we will have to cover is the equivalent of climbing Mt. Everest, 16 times. Sounds amazing!
When we finally allowed our thoughts and dreams of hiking the Appalachian Trail to take life and direction it was only natural that we turned to our background in Crossfit, our experience at Cynergy and our Coach and friend, Cindy Brown.
Our plan is to use many of the Crossfit skills we have absorbed over the years and by that we don’t mean we will be doing double-unders on the trail, handstand pushups on summits or chest-to-branches along the way. Instead the skills we will rely on are the far more important ones we have learned at CCF. They are persistence, patience, positivity and pacing.
We could have prepared for our AT thru hike in many ways but the reason we engaged with Cindy is we knew what Crossfit fostered most in us is what we describe as “mental toughness”. Those who know us can attest we are not the most coordinated, graceful or gifted of athletes but one thing CCF helped us develop is persistence trying something that was hard or which terrified us. Crossfit pushed both of us to attempt things so ridiculously far from our “comfort zone” and to attempt it with confidence and humor. Crossfit also taught us to be patient. Nothing came “natural” for us. But with persistence and patience we reveled in doing things we never imagined. Yes, I still remember the first day my chest did….hit…the…bar AND the day I actually got to record a real, for the record, Fran time. Janeen just recently retired and on her last day she took the photo she had on her desk of her 205 lb PR Deadlift! She kept it there not only to show her students what persistence and patience can accomplish but to show than that when you try, you can achieve.
Positivity and Pacing are at the very core of long distance hiking and they are skills we learned and trained in at Crossfit. The biggest threats to a long trail hiker is not bears or injuries rather it succumbing to negativity, dealing with the daily struggles and pain. Crossfit loves the slogan “Embrace the Suck!” while the refrain of the Appalachian Trail hiker is similar , “No Pain, No Maine!”
Pacing will be critical to the success of our hike. Start out to fast and risk injury and burnout, get lulled into resting or excuses to stop and fail to get to New Hampshire and Maine before winter sends us home. I never climb up a long trail when I don’t hear Cindy’s voice in my ear. I first heard it on what I recall as “the day of 150 Wall Balls”. While I hugged my wall ball gassed, whining and defeated against I heard, “take 3 breaths and go, you won’t feel any better after 5, find your pace and go!”. Every long climb I have hiked since that day I take 3 breaths, find my pace, and go!
When we first came to CCF both Janeen and I remember, most of all, the experience of being around positive people. We were NOT athletes or fitness fans in any way. But the positivity of the people we met was infectious. All different people trying to change their lives in all different positive ways willing to try new things. The list of “firsts” we have tried because of Crossfit is endless!!!! And on February 20, 2018, atop the summit of Springer Mountain, Georgia we will add yet one more, first.
We hope all of you follow us and cheer us on as we take on this “wickedlonghike”. We are proud to be affiliated with Team Fox for Parkinson’s Research and certainly invite you to consider supporting the efforts of the Michael J. Fox Foundation by donating at www.michaeljfox.org/donate where you will find us by searching “wickedlonghike’
We also will be vlogging our hike on YouTube and updating regularly on Facebook, both at “wickedlonghike”
Fondly, Don and Janeen Orcutt
Trailnames – “Plodalong and Grandma Shortie”