Inside: What I haven’t learned; The bonk; No cramps*; This is why I train at Underground Athlete
I went on the Strickler Knob hike a few weekends ago. It was one of the Mid-Atlantic Hiking Group’s outings. It’s rated as middle of strenuous. Twelve miles or so, over 2,000 feet of elevation gain, and a rock scramble at the top. Hmm. This might be a good candidate for a gym event. The shorter version, anyway. Maybe. Old Rag is still candidate number one, though, except out and back. Scramble up, scramble down. Plus burpees?
Um. I’m slow. I don’t know if it’s because I’ve got short legs but I can’t keep up with an experienced hiker. I don’t understand how people move that fast and efficiently for miles and miles. Even matching my cadence to the hike leader’s he still steadily pulled away.
The guy who volunteered to be the sweeper hiked 11 miles the day before. That’s impressive. I mean, after Strickler Knob I was crazy sore for days. Quads, hamstrings, glutes, side glutes, feet, back. Dave, who led the hike, was doing another strenuous hike the following day. Every weekend there’s a strenuous hike posted. For example, 18 miles in the Shenandoahs or GWNF with multiple summits. That’s a lot farther than I want to walk.
The Strickler Knob rock scramble isn’t as glorious or lengthy as Old Rag but it’s gnarlier in a way, especially when there’s snow on the rocks. Some of the other hikers we ran into said that it would have been treacherous the previous day because the snow had a hard crust. At the last part you would definitely get messed up if you fell and you’d end up wedged awkwardly betwixt large rocks and boulders. The down climb of a boulder or two was tricky. It didn’t help that the cold or fatigue sapped my energy and I was moving like a tree sloth.
It was cold as a motha at the summit, of course. My layers held up pretty well. Wish I had an Osprey day pack, though. They’ve got that mesh so there’s good air flow between your back and the pack. We’ll see if my fam’ly saw it on my Amazon wish list.
- Bring an extra pair of dry socks
- Hiking poles are extremely helpful
- The Hike Goo worked well. The normal hot spot on the ball of my right foot was tender but not blistered or torn up after all of that up and down hiking. That’s kind of amazing considering that my hands were too cold to lace my boots properly when I put them back on.
- Toe warmers in the hiking boots helped on the way down even though the directions say not to use them for running or hiking. Sweat = moisture = more friction, which could mean blisters. Also, I assume they could overheat if they breathe too much. I guess.
- Bring a little pad or something to sit on. Sitting on bare rock saps the heat from you quickly.
- Bring some kind of food. Not just granola-ish snacks and bars. Someone suggested cold pizza.
- I need to bring more water. I had 100 oz. (3L) plus 24 oz. with Emergen-C and I ran dry around mile 10 (of 12).
- Urinate frequently. Flush the system.
The amazing thing is that I didn’t get any muscle cramps*. And that’s a strenuous hike. On snow covered trails. I even fell, like, four times. Three of those were slow motion, though. Must have been caught in a slow wind. The jarring of a fall is typically a trigger when I’m already worn out. But nope.
*I did get occasional muscle spasms near the end on the uphills. Upper, right hamstring. Weird. It was a hard spot to stretch, too. That slowed me down starting around mile 9 of 12. Then it’s like, “Oh crap. Are my parts going to hold on for another hour of tough hiking?”
I’m thinking it was a fuel thing. I didn’t have time for breakfast. Plus I’m just not used to that distance. I did it but I definitely bonked.
It happened on the 60 mile bike ride I did over the Summer. You know how after a tough or long workout you sit down for a while and then you get up and it’s like, “Holy crap. I’m broken.”?
I got that post-workout soreness but it happened with two miles left to go. What can you do, y’know? Keep steppin’ til you can’t step no more.
CALORIES: QUALITY AND QUANTITY
Like I said recently, I’ve started tracking my nutrition again. Calories first and foremost. Then I look at the day and say, “Okay. That’s very little iron. What foods have a lot of iron? Red cabbage? I can do that.”
You know how I talk about muscle cramps all the time. (Emergen-C has really helped to eliminate muscle cramping so far.) I’ve tried supplements in the past but it didn’t do much. I think that’s because it’s a longitudinal thing. You can’t just swallow a few vitamins for a week and expect to solve any issues. Anyway, one day I checked my nutrition and I had consumed 0mg of potassium. I was stunned. It wasn’t the greatest day for quality of food but damn. None? That was a wake up call. The RDA is 3500mg.
Even now. I take Emergen-C every day and before/during physical activity and eat foods that have potassium, I have yet to cross 800mg mark. Not sure what to do about that. From what I read, too many potassium salts aren’t good for you. It’s about the right foods. Maybe nutritiondata.com will come to the rescue again.
I have to get my macros on point. I got some good tips on the Underground Athlete FB page.
You really have to ignore the articles in the news with sensational titles. I just saw one the other day saying that calories don’t matter when it comes to weight loss. That’s misleading at best. Of course calories matter. But the point of the article is that it’s what you eat — the quality and variety. That’s also very true.
But when people or institutions want our attention they make some kind of goofy claim. Sugar good. Sugar bad. Wine good. Wine bad. Grape juice good (study paid for by Welch’s). Fat. Vitamin supplements. Whatever it is.
I guess it doesn’t pay to be reasonable. Here’s what my news release would be:
- Eat a variety of healthy foods. More fruits and even more vegetables.
- Find what works for you because not everyone will thrive on the same foods, says the guy with some food intolerances and allergies. I can eat some things cooked that I can’t eat raw, for example.
- Eat to fuel your goals and activities (muscle gain, fat loss, half marathon, a weekend of backpacking, etc.).
- Treat yourself every now and then.
- Don’t beat yourself up when you fall off the wagon.
- If you find something — a lifehack — that works well for you let me know so I can try it.
I guess it’s technically not Winter until Dec. 21st, huh. Well then. I was doing something a few weeks ago and a thought passed through my mind: “I’m so damn tired of being cold.”
I have a strategy, though. We should always have something to look forward to, near term and long term. A photo shoot, an outdoor outing, hanging out with a few good friends. Something. Whatever it is that charges us up.
I spend a little time every week looking on meetup.com and REI classes for things to do. There are some things on the horizon that should be educational. Got a winter hike with REI soon. A meetup hike is cheaper, nearly free, but I like the way REI does things. I’ll try a skiing lesson, too, when they start. No. Snowboarding. We’ll see. Oh, the photos I’m gonna take.
THINGS I HAVEN’T LEARNED
- How to pick a good campsite
- How to start and maintain a fire
- How to handle firearms
- How to pack light
- How to ski/snowboard
- How to belay
- How to swim
And many more.