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Fit Inspiration: Five Tips From Hiking Record Holder Jennifer Davis

Staying fit in nature, like Jennifer does, can help put life in perspective. Just check out that view! (Photo courtesy of Maureen Robinson)

Written by Theresa K. Brady, editorial intern

On Sunday, July 31, history was made on the Appalachian Trail. Jennifer Davis is now the fastest person ever to complete the 2,181-mile hike, finishing in 46 days, 11 hours and 20 minutes—and we thought spin class was rough! (Andrew Thompson was the previous record holder, completing the trek in 47 days, 13 hours and 31 minutes.) We caught up with Davis after she stepped off the trail to hear more about her values, her family and the hike that changed her life. Five lessons she learned along the path:

Step off the grid. “Once the adjustment is made, it becomes really nice to unplug,” Davis says. “The trail is your home. You can’t think about your warm bed or nice shower.” But how do you live without cell service? Davis enjoys being disconnected from her phone, social media and the constant stimulation of modern life.

Allow yourself to recover. Walking and running all day for weeks takes a toll on your body. “You have to allow your body to rest,” she suggests. The length and rigor of your hike will determine how long you will need to recover. After this hike, Davis will be taking it easy for a while. “I will be doing very light physical activity for the next six months.”

Find energy in food. While on the trail, Davis was burning 6,000 to 7,000 calories a day, or the equivalent of 11 to 13 Big Macs! “It’s hard to chew as much food as you need to take in,” she says. While on the trail, Davis munched on energy bars and energy chews, but really looked forward to the occasional evening treat. “My husband was so supportive. Sometimes he’d bring me a high-calorie dinner from a nearby town,” Davis says (most days she ate freeze-dried camping dinners). What a guy!

Value simplicity. “We feel like we need all these ‘things,’ but the trail teaches you to be content with what’s in your backpack,” Davis says. She also found that it was easier to build quality relationships with the other hikers without technology and all the distractions of everyday life. “It’s a skill I try to carry over into everyday life.”

Focus on family. Davis is onto her next adventure: children. “We really want to focus on family,” she says. Does she plan on teaching her children to hike? Absolutely! “That’s the best part about trails. You can set a speed record or take a toddler out there. It’s perfect for anyone.” Check out Jennifer's website to read more about her hike or to check out pictures from her trek.

More from FITNESS: Blaze your own trail with our must-have hiking gear.