The Back Of The Pack

Cross Training Mistake

By Gary Pulver

At the time of this writing, I find myself in the Northwest enjoying a visit to many of Canada's and the USA's finest National Parks. The scenery and experiences have been outstanding. We have seen moose and mountain sheep close up. In fact, the moose splashed me as it ran out of the lake into the forest right next to me. And, I will be able to add three more states to my quest to run a race in all 50 states next week. I will add Oregon, Washington, and Idaho to make my overall total 41.


Flat Trails

I had been doing a lot of cross training at the YMCA before leaving on this trip and thought that I could continue with my training at hotel exercise rooms along the way. However, these can be very lacking in the budget type hotels I have been staying in so I decided that trail hiking in the National Parks would be a good way to cross train. This proved to be a mistake.

At our first stop, Glacier National Park, we got up super early and drove to Logan Pass. We had found out that to get a parking place at all of the Visitors Centers one has to arrive very early or all of the parking places are taken. Also, entrance can be declined altogether once the parking lots get full. We decided to begin this hiking method of cross training by taking the approximately five mile round trip to Hidden Lake. Like most hikes, the first half was uphill and the return trip was downhill. This was also a very popular hike full of hikers of all ages. The trail was marked by numerous man made large wooden steps. My wife had a tough time on the steps as did I to some extent.

At the end of the hike, I felt something in my calves that I had not felt in a long time as a runner. They were burning. That evening I did some stretching and rubbed some liniment into them. When I woke up they still hurt but off we went to another hiking location at the Many Glacier visitors center. We chose fairly level hiking trails but the damage had been done. The calves hurt all day but I just kept going thinking that I could walk off the pain.

After a few days of similar agony and loads of ibuprofen, I was talking to a Ranger who told me about that first trail and how it has been a similar problem for many people. She told me that she hates that trail because of all of the steep wooden steps and advises hikers to steer clear of those types of trails. To have better hiking experiences, one should stay on the flattest of possible trails at the beginning and work up to those that have the most elevation changes. Since then, I have definitely shied away from all trails that have such changes and I my calves have finally stopped aching. I'm ready for my races.

Yes, the National Parks have been crowded but the visits have all been wonderful, outside of some hiking pains. The scenery is nonstop and this year has certainly been an excellent time to visit the Canadian National Parks as entrance to all of them is free as part of the celebration of Canada's 150th anniversary of being a country. We have so far visited Glacier, Waterton, Banff, Jasper, Yolo, and Mr Rainier National Parks. If you have some vacation time available this fall, I can highly recommend coming to this wonderful country, just remember that if you have not been trail hiking recently, to start with the easy trails.

Gary Pulver's Bio

Gary Pulver Gary was born in upstate New York in 1947, graduated from State University of New York at Geneseo in 1969, and taught one year of junior high math before joining the Air Force in 1970. Uncle Sam sent him to Texas where he was stationed in San Antonio, Wichita Falls and Abilene. He received his Masters Degree at Abilene Christian University and moved to Arlington in 1974 where he taught junior high math for five years and was a junior high guidance counselor for for 34 years. He likes to joke that he spent 44 years in junior high.

Gary played baseball throughout his school years and was a good bowler through high school and college. He was on the Geneseo bowling team and once was part of a state championship team. Athletic endeavors were limited to softball once he moved to Arlington. He became a runner at the ripe old age of 63. He was nearing retirement when his wife said "Now you're not going to just sit around and play on the computer when you retire are you!!!" His reply was "How about I become a marathon runner!!" The stories of his running exploits will be described in his column but from a very humble beginning as a runner, he has trained with the likes of Bill Richardson and Joe Boyle and is currently a member of The Running Bear Running Club in Granbury where he and his wife, Karen, have retired. Early in his running career he made himself the goal of running a race in all 50 states. He has currently done so in 20 states and 3 countries and has races in 14 more states on his calendar to be completed by the end of September, 2015.

Gary's columns will focus on two aspects of running, the older runner and the slower runner, for he happily admits to being both of these.