1. Start off slow then taper off. It takes a while to adjust.
2. Listen to your body. Hike your own pace and don't try to keep up with others. Make pre-arranged lunch and dinner stops with friends.
3. Hike for 2 hours then rest for 1/2 hour. Snack while you read a book or write a journal. This helps you “escape” the trail for a bit.
4. Know your water needs. I like to "Camel up" at water sources to avoid carrying a large water load.
5. Take a nap during the heat of the day.
6. Know your hiking style. I say no to 30 mile days.
7. "Stealth camp" away from the trail whenever
8. Resupply as you go but be prepared to send a box ahead if needed.
9. Lay up on the trail before a town stop. Come in for breakfast and get the earliest motel check-in. Check out late and eat lunch before returning to the trail.
10. Try to see a current movie if the town has a theater.
11. Try a "Town slow" instead. Get in and out of a town resupply as soon as possible.
12. Carry a black sharpie. Make a sign for hitching to and from the trail. "Clean Hiker to Trailhead" has worked for me. Have an interesting hitchhiking technique? The "Shiny Thumb" is one of mine.
13. "Return to the woods" I take a short break as soon as I'm out of earshot of traffic and noise. This helps ease the stress of a resupply (like all the stuff you forgot to do plus your heavy load) and clears the mind to regain the rhythm of the trail.
14. It that grassy spot looks good, drop your pack and take a few seconds to roll, stretch and breathe.
15. If you need something, relax, the trail has the answers.
Take a zero-day in a beauty spot on the trail.