Packing in the miles

I don’t mean to sound like I’m bragging, but I started my hike in better shape than most people. My dog and I are both very active and for over the past year have averaged about 5/6 miles of hiking a day. When the weather isn’t horrendous, I’ll bring him out trail running on an 8 or 10 mile loop. And in Eastern Pennsylvania it’s nothing but hills, so I’m great with the ups and downs.

So when I told myself to let my body dictate my miles, and my first four days on the AT looked like this:

Day 1: 11.6 miles (started at 12:15pm)
Day 2: 21.5 miles
Day 3: 18.9 miles
Day 4: 20.1 miles

I was not surprised at all. At the end of the day maybe my foot or knee ached a bit, but that’s nothing new, and when I woke up in the morning I felt 100% again.

But Bob (Sir Packs-a-lot) of the Top of Georgia Hostel got me thinking a little differently after telling a group of us how many veterans start up the trail putting in big miles and end up burning out quickly, even if they are in better shape than others that succeed.

I’ve heard warnings against starting too strong, but this time it got me thinking about the training I put into a pair of marathons I ran a few years ago.

I have run the Philadelphia Marathon twice in my life. The first time I had a training partner who gave me a great training schedule and I legitimately wanted to follow it – and I did. I started slowly and worked up to running 22 miles over about 4 months. And although I got my ass handed to me on race day, I finished the race at the pace I planned.

The second time I ran it was 3 years later. I signed up by myself this time, so naturally I didn’t train nearly as hard. I actually didn’t even train more than 14 miles in a day. On race day My first 17 miles went great until I hit a wall and walked about 3 miles and ended hobbling over thr finish line with a horrendous pace and felt terrible.

I remember hearing somewhere that we grow when we learn from our past mistakes. Even though both of my runs got me a finisher’s medal at the end, I felt a hell of a lot better after the first race. It might not be a perfect analogy, but the goal is to kiss the top of Katahdin and I can’t look past all the similarities.

Looks like it’s time to tone it down for a little bit.

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Comments 2

  • Irvin Valle (coach) : Apr 4th

    Looking forward to following your blog. My wife and I have beentraining for several months and our pit/lab mix loves going with us. (our 10 1/2 year old retreiver also does the 1st .5 mile lap with us but cant go any further so getsdropped off at home then we keep going). My daughters Austrailian sheppard seems to have more endurance for the long hikes so wondering how long it took for you pit/lab to get in shape. Good luck on your hike.

  • Anthony V. : Apr 4th

    Nice work dude. Now I’m wondering how Scoobs will do in terms of pacing himself.

    Have you gotten a trail name yet?


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