My Month of Hiking

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The on-again, off-again nature of my ankle. It feels bad, it feels good, it feels bad again. It had gone back to feeling bad, so I had gone back to not running, which means that I have been moving through the Wissahickon at a much slower rate for the last month or so.

Hiking. Actually, I love it, but I think of hiking more in terms of mountains and summits than the ups-and-downs of my little city wilderness. The goal has been to get out and get in time-on-feet and elevation gain so that I am not completely out of shape when it comes time to get back to serious running. I’m not sure how that’s going.

A couple observations:

The Park Looks Different At A Slower Pace.

Seriously. It’s not that I am all that fast when running. But at a walking pace, even at a fast walking pace, I have noticed little details of the woods I had never noticed before. The park also seems like a much bigger place. Running from my house to Bells Mill only takes a bit more than half an hour, an hour round-trip. Walking, it comes in at over two hours, and that’s a pretty serious walk.

My Watch Has No Idea What I’m Doing.

God bless you , my little Forerunner 10. You turn on and off and you track my distance. But sometimes, you get really confused. Remember that time you thought I was running and you said I burned 875 calories, and then I switched it to “Hike” in Garmin Connect and you tried to claim I burned 13,400 calories? Good times. Please go back to keeping time.

I Get Really Hungry Hiking.

Like, REALLY hungry. I have been eating like a horse the whole time I’ve been doing the hiking thing. Which, come to think of it, might lend some credence to the whole calorie-counting bit my watch is trying to put over on me.

I Don’t Think It’s Working As A Workout.

This past hike, a decent 17k jaunt with a out 1,300 feet of elevation, I managed to get in about 3k of actual running to see how my ankle felt. I had said to myself I wasn’t going to run again until Late July, but the ankle felt good and the breeze was warm and the sun was shining and I just couldn’t help myself as I got up to Houston Meadow, which after all is one of my favorite places to run. So I broke into a trot and had a go at some distance, and dang if I didn’t feel pretty winded right off the bat. The good news is the ankle felt good during the run, and more importantly, it felt good after the run as well. And it feels good today.

Goal: Elevation Gain.

The ankle problem set in in earnest on day 2 of training for Boulder Field, which stank. I’m not sure I’m going to be able to get the mileage in to pull off my first 50k after taking 6 weeks more or less off and then having to ease back into it cautiously. Nevertheless, I thought back to watching YouTube videos of Jamil Coury and Gary Robinson getting ready for the Barkleys this year, and they were basically just out there going up and down hillsides. So I have taken a similar tack in my hikes, trying just to get the race’s vertical gain into my weekly vertical gain. That’s going ok, and comes out to about 1,000 feet of vert each time I go out, which is very doable. Sure does work the big guns, though.

The End.

Tonight, some more easy light miles at a run. I want to ease back into it but also not waste the days I have. Boulder Field is still out there, and there is a rumor going around that an 18 miles might be added to the festivities, so that could work given the mileage. Otherwise, I’ll be setting my eyes on Blues Cruise and then the Philadelphia Marathon. It’s crazy that it is the middle of July and I am already feeling a time crunch for fall races. Trying not to think of goal paces, but I can’t help myself. Maybe some more on goals, and my lack of them, later.

Until then…don’t roll your ankle.

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The Long Hike

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One last good hike before I give the ankle a try running. It was late on Fathers Day after the drive back from Maryland, and after a couple slices of pizza for dinner, I took the time to head out for some time in the woods. I could have gone a bit longer, but the batteries in the headlamp were getting a bit dim, and 12k made for a nice little loop anyway.

I broke into a light jog a few times on downhills, just to see if whether a running motion was an immediate deal-breaker or not. The good news: my ankle behaved well, felt relatively strong although not nearly 100%. The bad news: it’s going to be awhile before I feel comfortable running on the trails again. I’ll be spending lots of time on the roads for now so that footing isn’t something I have to worry about.

This hike was Sunday. Monday I’ll get in that short run to see how the ankle really feels under a little stress. Wish me luck.

And in other news:

1017km

I’ve deliberately not set many goals for this year, keeping my eyes set only on total distance. One of those sub-goals was returning to MapMyRun’s You Vs The Year Challenge. This year, it was to cover 1017km over the year. I’m happy to say that, injury downtime aside, I hit that mark during the hike. I’m a little behind on the year overall, only 40% of the way to my goal as the half-year mark draws near. But with an ultra cycle getting under way, I’m not worried about getting caught up. I’m just worried about getting my ankle healthy.

Course was long.

My ankle has been injured lately, and I’ve been nursing it by going on light walks, long sofa-sessions, and a bit of swimming. My parents have a small pool, and even thought it’s only 10 meters long, I like to get in some laps when I’m visiting. Decided to track today’s effort.

If you have any illusions about GPS accuracy, here are my 100 laps:

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Nerts.

Welp. Here I am, at the start of week two of a 16-week training block. Total miles so far: 4.5. Not for the week. For the block.

I gave my ankle a good twist while trying to jump out of the way of a lunging, snarling dog back in April. It was a little swollen but it didn’t seem like anything too terrible at the time, so I took a few days off, waited for it to feel better, gave it couple gingerly test runs, and got back at it. Ran a few races. Put in my miles. Took a couple easy weeks before starting this training block.

And then last week, my ankle started to feel like it is going to fall off. A couple days last week, just walking was a big ask. Saturday I was on my feet all day photographing a wedding, and that was rough going. I spent yesterday with my feet up getting caught up on the America’s Cup action from Bermuda.

Today, I was able to prepare breakfast without falling over. Small victories.

I have rolled my ankle many times before, but this feels like something new. It’s off to the doctor for me, and let’s just hope that it’s nothing too serious…it would be a pity to already have to rethink the fall schedule after just one training run.

Usually at this point I say “See you out there,” but frankly, I’m going to be on the couch, so please…

Bring me cake tacos.

Downtime.

With the coming and going of the Dirty German Endurance Fest last Saturday, my spring has officially wrapped up, and for better or worse, this means that I am already being tempted to look at the late summer and fall and how to approach running and racing. Decisions have been made.

But for the next two weeks, things will be taken pretty easy. I’m putting in four or so miles here and there, going easy for the most part, just getting out there and running and not doing anything too specific. Last night, I ran in the Wissahickon Wanderer’s Spring Trail Series #3, a nice little 4.5 mile jaunt that happened to travel over most of one of my favorite running routes. So it felt a bit like playing on my home field.

What didn’t feel great was the blister that I developed and then ripped off my toe. I never get blisters. Like, ever. I didn’t get a blister last weekend when I ran through a 15.5-mile long puddle. But four and half dry miles on trails I run every day? Damage.

I have until Monday, May 29th to relax and just run. Then, it’s back into an ambitious training cycle. My new comfort with distances over 13 miles has made me rethink how to approach a season, so I am excited and a bit nervous for what’s coming. I’ll talk about that once I get there.

And just to make sure I relax and take it easy, my Garmin has decided to stop talking to my computer. So no GPS maps for now. Just time and distance, which is whatever.

Hope you are finding some rest and relaxation as well out there. Be well.