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.
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.