So, as you all know, I’m training to thru-hike the Tahoe Rim Trail in 2020. I’ve started out this year (2019) with the commitment to hike/walk nearly every day. (You can read my training goals here.)
It’s been about 6 weeks and, as I thought might be the case, I am finding it hard to find the time to do anything more than go for a simple, fairly short walk/hike each day. My walks range from 1 to 2 miles, though I usually do hike up the canyon behind our house, so at least I am getting the elevation workout. But I just can’t find more than about an hour to go for a walk every day, what with all the other things I have to do.
So what do you do when you just can’t seem to find the time to make your workouts longer?
Well, you ramp up the intensity.
Only have time to go one mile today? Walk faster than you usually would.
Your 2 mile route no longer making you out of breath? Start carrying a heavy pack.
Go faster if you can’t go further. Carry weight of you can’t do either of those.
And that’s where I got into a bit of trouble.
I was staying at my mom’s house in town for a few days, so I took my daily walks in her neighborhood. I was on sidewalks on level ground.
I thought to myself, “Self, here’s your chance to really ramp things up!” No hills to contend with. No snow to slosh through. I was gonna kill it! I chose a 1.5 mile route, and walked it.
And the next day, I could barely walk at all!
My shins were killing me, and my knee decided to flare up worse than it’s done in months.
The combination of much-faster-than-normal walking plus being on hard concrete/asphalt injured me. I actually pushed myself too hard.
Now, if it was just the sore shin muscles, I’d laugh it off and work though it. But the flared up knee is more serious. When my arthritis gets aggravated like that, it sometimes takes weeks to calm back down.
I shoulda known better. I shoulda slowed down and been gentler on the knees. But I didn’t and I’m paying the price for it still a week later.
But there’s that old saying, No pain, no gain.” Right?
Right. I do actually agree with it. In order to get stronger, you have to push yourself out of your comfort zone, and often that involves some pain.
But you a gotta know your limits.
Work up to your goals.
Push yourself, but be wise about it.
So the next day, not wanting to miss out on a day of training, I pushed myself to get out and walk anyway. Even though I was in quite a lot of muscle pain and my knee was swollen. And the weather was crappy.
I went much slower, sometimes even literally just limping along. And I chose as many dirt surfaces as the neighborhood allowed.
I was amazed at the difference in how my legs felt when I stepped off the asphalt path onto the dirt. It was immediate relief!
And guess what. I walked 2.3 miles. And didn’t feel any worse the next day.
So get out there and push your limits. Challenge yourself to go further or faster. Ignore the pain sometimes. But also realize where the threshold is of a healthy hurt vs injury, and stay on the good side of it.
Happy Hiking (and safe training!)