HIIT Me Baby… One More Time

Proper care and maintenance of our bodies enables us to do the things we do, in spite of ourselves.

At one of my pre-trail (HIIT) workouts, our “youthful” trainer was demonstrating one of the station’s exercises (quick high knees, running laterally). While demonstrating, he was also telling us that he wants us to be “nimble.” I turned to my workout partner and said, “Hell, Margaret, the last time I was that nimble, I think I was 5.” This leads me to the point that I nor my husband are spring chickens.

I have a few nagging injuries from work and play over the years. But it hasn’t  kept me from playing outside.  While I  might not be as adventurous and/or as carefree as I was in my youth, my appetite for outdoor recreation and adventure is delightfully endless.  Of that, I have my father to thank.  At 82, and with a current battle with cancer, he still walks my ass into the ground.  In fact, he’s the biggest proponent of us hiking the CDT. “You gotta do things when you can, because you never know when your number is up,” he says.

The Drive to Train

My husband and I were “premiere” athletes, which, for us, makes it hard to work out just to work out.  We, namely me, need something to train for.  Without proper motivation, I have been known to half-ass my workouts, or find alternatives to doing them.  Enter adventures that require physicality. Enter the motivation that is the CDT.

Oddly enough, in working to repair a knee and shoulder injury, I have discovered High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT).  Of course, I used to do these kind of workouts swimming and surfing, but since my shoulder injury these are not an option, and doesn’t transfer equitably to hiking.  Through HIIT, which is similar (but different) to CrossFit, I have significantly increased my core strength and stability.

To do this, I have joined a local gym (SoCal Bootcamp), because frankly I don’t have the discipline to do it by myself.  I used to train with my since moved neighbor (you know who you are, damnit!) at our local 24-hour fitness, when they had a circuit training HIIT class.  Sadly, the class was canceled. As I recall, it wasn’t a particularly popular class at the time. (Sweating like a pig and working to the edge of puking wasn’t as “cool” as it is now.)

Two to three HIIT workouts a week, combined with incremental increases in daily mileage on the hills behind our house, seem to be working. My lower back pain and frequent back spasms have all but disappeared.  The strength and range of motion, especially for my “problem” knee, has enabled me to hike mostly sans KT Tape.  I have not lost (or even misplaced) much weight, but I have “rearranged” my fat to muscle ratio, in favor of muscle.

Things Are Getting Real

It’s getting down to crunch time. A recent illness has set us back ever so slightly. As of today, we are back to our daily mileage.  The plan for the rest of March will find us adding additional pack weight and two more miles to our daily hikes.  Barring an injury or (another) sudden illness, the prospect of a successful thru-hike of the CDT wanders ever closer to a reality.

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