Hiking in nasty weather isn’t always optional when you need to get the miles in!
Photo by Ryan Linn
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Guthook's New Year's Hiking Goals

2019 is almost here! Have you made your New Year’s Resolutions yet? Or are you going to forget them within minutes of making them? Check out how Guthook manages his New Years Resolutions— maybe his obsession can help you with yours.

Ryan Linn       Inside Atlas Guides       12/28/2018
Ryan Linn
Inside Atlas Guides

Back when I was thru-hiking every few years, it was so easy to stay in shape for hiking. Whatever I was doing for work at the time, I could take one day a week to go on a twenty-mile hike and feel just fine. These days I spend too much time in the office, so I can’t take this kind of thing for granted. A few years ago I decided I needed a good way to keep myself motivated and stay in constant motion.


Being the nerd that I am, I needed a combination of tools to keep myself motivated. iOS had recently added HealthKit, which automatically counts your steps as you walk around with your phone. Pair that with some SMART goal setting and a spreadsheet, and I had a plan!

Screen shot of iOS Health app step counter
iOS’s Health app is a pretty simple way to track your steps, mileage, and so on.

SMART goals are something I learned about when I was a student at NOLS, and are fairly common in work environments as well. The idea is to create goals for yourself that are:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Relevant
  • Time Constrained

Rather than saying “I want to hike more next year”, which is vague and easily ignored, the SMART system encourages you to go into great detail. By being more specific, you can turn the accomplishment into a sort of competition with yourself.

To set up my annual goal, I started with the easy parts. The Time constraint was the calendar year, and the Measurement would be done with my Health app’s mileage measurement. I decided to use the mileage rather than step count because, even if it’s less accurate, it’s a more meaningful number for me. Finally, the Relevant criteria comes from the fact that my goal would involve walking, hiking, and backpacking. Staying in shape for hiking by getting myself out on the trail more often seems pretty relevant to me!

A hiker getting his shoes ready for a day on the trail
Getting ready for a day on the trail.

Next up was the fun part: what Specific goals do I set, and how do I decide if they’re Achievable? Since it’s hard to say what is achievable, I decided to err on the side of extreme specificity. That way I could modify my goals for the following year based on the current year’s performance. For example, here are my 2018 goals:

  1. Walk, hike, or run a total of 2018 miles.
  2. Spend 40 nights out on overnight hiking trips.
  3. Hike a total of 80 days. (in this case, a day of hiking must be at least 4 hours, so I could spend a night out on a hiking trip without counting either day as hiking).
  4. Hike a minimum of 4 days per month.

That may sound unachievable to you, but it sounded right to me at the end of 2017. The idea was to be very difficult, but possible. Turns out, I failed at all those goals for 2018, but that will help me set new goals for 2019.

To measure my progress, I set up a pretty detailed spreadsheet. If you’ve read any of my previous posts, you’ll know I love a good (and frivolous) spreadsheet. Keeping track of progress as I went along helped keep me motivated, and gave me some daily or monthly mini-goals to add on. As I write this post (about a week before year’s end), it’s obvious that I won’t hit my overall goal, but it did serve its purpose of keeping me in hiking shape. Maybe next year I’ll be able to tailor my goal to something a little more reasonable.

You can get a copy of the spreadsheet here. Feel free to either use it as is for your own goals, or modify it for your own crazy goals. If you’re using it as is, the only fields you need to enter text into are the highlighted ones. Dates and averages are all taken care of. Good luck sticking with your 2019 goals. Let’s compare notes in a year!

Screen shot of a spreadsheet with daily mileage
The main part of the spreadsheet keeps track of daily accomplishments.
Screen Shot of daily mileage goals spreadsheet
And a monthly overview shows what’s been done so far this year.

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A trail winds through a beautiful field.
About the Author
A man wearing a backpack and carrying trekking poles stands on top of a rock cliff with a view behind him.

Ryan Linn

Ryan is also known as “Guthook”, which is where our apps get their name. Already an avid hiker, he hiked the Appalachian Trail, New England Trail, and Pacific Crest Trail before joining forces with Paul to create the Guthook Guides apps. Ryan handles iOS development for our apps from his office in Maine, and usually runs away to the forests and mountains throughout New England. He also volunteers with the Maine Appalachian Trail Club and the Natural Resources Council of Maine. Baxter State Park in Maine is his happy place.