Wednesday, April 3, 2013

No Pain, No Pain

Trees Behind the Fence by Wayne-K
Trees Behind the Fence, a photo by Wayne-K on Flickr.

I don’t mind pain, unless it’s me it’s inflicted upon.

On my first backpacking trip (not counting the 50 Miler we did as Boy Scouts), I was unknowingly dragged on a 28 mile trek on the Ohlone Trail in two days. Many hiking books rate this backpacking route as “very strenuous” when performed over three days -- and we did it in two. The death march began at Lake Del Valle, proceeded up a grueling hill, up more grueling hills, and continued across several more grueling hills, until we completed the 16 miles to the Sunol Backpacker’s Camp. My calves cramped, my quads cramped, and I was seriously considering cutting my legs off with a pocket knife. Fortunately (or unfortunately), one of the guys helped me ease the pain with an 800 mg Motrin and I was able to complete the 12 miles to Mission Peak on the second day. I returned home after successfully completing my first backpacking trip and things were great. Well, things were great until that 800 mg Motrin wore off. I could barely walk up and down the stairs in the house. After six weeks of physical therapy, I vowed never to put myself in that situation again. For future backpacking trips, I trained for six months, putting in the mileage on the road and running a lot of hills. Never again was I going to torture myself physically and mentally by not being in adequate physical shape. The fear of pain motivated me to put in the extra hill workouts, often late at night and often after a long day of work.

As I noted previously, I’m planning on pacing a friend on her 100 mile race (assuming I don’t die trying to get into shape in only four months). My “pacing” will consist of 20-30 miles, at high elevation, and with several thousand feet of elevation gain. Once again, the fear of pain is motivating me to put in the training hours. After a cautious five mile run on the Pleasanton Ridge on Monday, I used Tuesday as a recovery day, massaging my legs with a foam roller, stretching, and wearing compression sleeves on my calves at night and during the day at work. Today, I decided to try my seven mile route on the ridge – and it felt great! Depending on how I feel later this week, I’m considering LSD for Saturday – ten miles of long, slow, distance. I need to make sure I don’t ramp up too quickly and over-train or I run the risk of injury, but based on how I felt today, I think a slow ten mile run may be feasible.

Above is a shot from my run today. Not a great one, but I liked the way the low, afternoon sun lit up the trees, creating shadows on the wonderfully green grass. Within a few months, all of this green grass will be amber.

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