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.
This website contains affiliate links, which means The Trek may receive a percentage of any product or service you purchase using the links in the articles or advertisements. The buyer pays the same price as they would otherwise, and your purchase helps to support The Trek's ongoing goal to serve you quality backpacking advice and information. Thanks for your support!
To learn more, please visit the About This Site page.