Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Running update: Ok, I now understand cross-training

I guess this isn't so much a Running Update as it is a Backpacking/Hiking Update, but let me explain.

See, I've been a regular exerciser most of my life, usually doing a few different things at once - like playing soccer and swimming or doing yoga and running or doing weights at the gym and pilates or whatever.

And most of the time I was doing more than one thing because that's what the workout magazines and personal trainers and The World say you're supposed to do - vary your workouts.

AKA: Cross-train.

So, I did.

Also, doing the same. thing. every. single. day. makes me nuts and then I will start finding convenient reasons for not working out, like, uh, I just got my pillow in the right spot and if I get up and go running now I'll lose this moment of perfect sleep forever.

You know what I mean.

There's also a lot of psychological trickery that goes on in my head to keep me from blowing off my daily workouts, but we won't go into that because you're all well aware of My Crazy at this point and don't need any further proof of loose screws in my noggin.

ANYWAY, the reason why the whole "you should cross-train" light bulb finally came on for me in a real way rather than just in the "I read it in Shape magazine so therefore it must be" kind of way, is that I went backpacking over the long weekend and, LO, I was, like, totally in shape for it.

Like, totally not phased by hiking up hills with a 40lb pack at 6,000+ ft above sea level, kind of shape.

The realization came to me when I, Ms. Tail of the Dog Hiker to the Stars, hit the top of the "Big Hill" first and was not just struggling to survive, like I always had in the past. Not bent at the waist, hands on knees, spitting and sucking wind to stay alive with no understanding of how I'd be able to go on.

No. I felt fine. Fine enough to take photos, drink a little water, reapply sunscreen like a good little pale-faced girl, appreciate the view in all directions and scout out the next leg of the hike.

People, I'm really not trying to brag here, what I'm trying to say is that at this moment I realized the value of cross-training because I also realized that the reason I was able to feel this good at this moment when historically I'd always felt one step from death in similar moments was because of all that fucking running.

Yes. Just like my neighbors said, and I summarily wrote off, was that "with all that running, this hike should be a breeze." And it was. And they were right.

Well, I'll be. Cross-training isn't just a fancy concept created by Nike to convince you to buy another pair of shoes.

No. It's a fancy concept created for people who are sick and bloody tired of always being behind everyone else on backpacking trips, dreading the next uphill and trying to piece together enough juice to make it to the campsite before collapsing in a heap.

I do not think I'll stop running ever now, given how awesome I felt during this trip. I never got sore, I never flamed out, I never had to stop on a hill and take a break.


OK, I'll stop being that guy now and just show you some photos from the weekend, since Yosemite was really the most impressive thing on the trip, even though I've spent the better part of this post making you believe it was me.

Which it really was not.

No, as it turns out, Yosemite is actually more gorgeous than my pea brain could recall, and I spent the better part of the weekend saying retarded things like, "WOW. Look at those pink flowers!" Which isn't that retarded until you've just said it for the 60th time and no one will look you in the eye anymore.

I'm easily amused I guess.

Kibbie Creek

Those pink flowers

A poor rattlesnake we awoke from its nap so that it would rattle for us. Poor guy. He'd just had lunch.

Of course, there were campfire cocktails.

And also there was feet soaking in the clear mountain streams.

And, during a moment of particular harmony, Bubba took a photo with me without sticking his tongue in my ear. Miracles will just never cease.

In case you're lost as to what the hell I'm trying to say here, allow me to sum up:

1. If you are sick of rolling into camp last on hiking or backpacking trips, start running before your next trip and then watch the magic unfold.

2. If your eyes need to stretch out and look at some gorgeous stuff and/or you're sick of listening to the sounds of civilization, Yosemite is a good bet. More photos here.

And now I'm off to Phoenix for a few days because I'm tired of existing in a comfortable climate and want to cook my insides.


  1. OK, so I just had this EXACT SAME experience this past weekend.

    Last weekend I ran a half marathon, yesterday my boyfriend couldn't even keep up with me on our hike back out from our weekend backpacking trip.

    It was awesome. And amazing. And ALL THAT RUNNING :)

  2. As a lifelong slug, I am envious. I've never been able to motivate myself to exercise for any length of time. I'll be good for six months, then lose the will to keep going. I think I'm destined to always be that one gasping on the tail of the hike. But that realization just makes me admire you more. Sounds like a great weekend.

  3. Oh gorgeous trip. You know, I live in Montana (well I know you know that but) and I have never seen a live rattlesnake. Yo. Cutie photo of you and Bubba. Nice work on the climb and triumph.

  4. Huh. Kinda looks like your cocktail is on fire in that photo. That would've been cool.

    Have, um, fun in Phoenix? Where it will probably be 110 degrees with an extra 20 degrees radiating from the concrete below. How the fuck I ever survived living there for a year, I will never know.

  5. I think you need to eat more big slabs of chocolate cake and other fattening stuff.

  6. Man, such great pics. And I am so glad the cross training bit is working!
    And how much do I love that we just had lunch together? this much <____________________________________________________________________________________________>

  7. 'k. So I had big aspirations to get in 'real good shape' this year, but my dreams of being in triathlete physique by June...well...let's just say I understand your perfect spot pillow thing a little too well and my size 8 clothing still hangs in the back of my closet. Anyhoo, between you and AfricanKelli, I am now so completely inspired (and well, SHAMED, actually) so that I declare here, for all to see, that I will run at least 5 miles per week (start small and achieve those goals right?) and will be at the dojo a minimum of FOUR times per week. THERE. I feel better now. Thank you thank you thank you for the inspiration (and pictures and giggles). You guys make my day. Have fun in Phoenix and travel safe!

  8. rosalicious - NICE!!! I knew I wasn't the only one to uncover this magic. And don't you feel like a badass? Yes. I imagine you do.

    Decca - Well, it's my first experience with not being the gasping wind bag at the back of the pack, so the shine is still on for me. I'm just glad I have managed to keep up running, since it apparently works. Hmpf. Who knew?

    dig - Never seen a rattlesnake in all that land of "watch out for nature"? I swear, never have I been warned of so many animal type catastrophes. Well, in Yosemite, you're nearly guaranteed to see one, so feel free to come roam our mountains - just watch your ankles ;)

    Kris - It was 99 when I landed but my friend immediately said, "oh you're so lucky you're here this week - it's so nice and not even in the 100s yet!" Really?

    Jeph - I could not agree more. I had a slice of red velvet cake in PHX that was probably supposed to feed a whole family.

    Africankelli - I KNOW ME TOO!!! I'm so spoiled now, seeing you twice in two weeks. :)

    Kat - There you go! Start with meaningful goals and work your way up. Hey - if you need any encouragement, look back at my earliest posts on running - I started by working up to 3 miles at a time. And THAT took me some time. Patience, dedication and a goal. That's all you need. Enjoy!

  9. Awww. Thanks Finny, will do! You guys have fun this weekend and please give my best to Ms. K!


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Look at you commenting, that's fun.

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