I used to be a runner. I guess I shouldn’t say used to be, because I still run. But my running is far different than it was. I’ve been running for…..42 years (yes that ages me, but I was young when I began). I haven’t stuck with ANYTHING else that long (except chocolate). Back in the day, I ran fast. My training runs were between 7 and 8 minute miles–I didn’t know about easy runs then. Races were in the 6 something range. sometimes very low sixes. I probably had some natural talent that could have been shaped into something, but there weren’t really training plans then. You just ran as fast as you could, all the time.
Plus, trail running wasn’t really a thing. I ran on the trails near my house, but the only other people who did were my dad and Mr. Barry. All the races were on pavement. So I pounded the concrete. That, combined with a job where I carried a 70 pound backpack, did a number on my body. I don’t think running is inherently bad for the knees, but pavement running probably is. I had surgery in 2007 to remove a piece of bone that had come loose from my kneecap and was just floating around causing havoc. I haven’t run as much since. Not because I have problems, but because I discovered running wasn’t the only thing.
I still like running, but I do it in much shorter bursts. I run on trails all the time and I don’t know what my pace is. I don’t want to pay to run anymore, so races are out. I know I’m slower, but I don’t really care. I run for different reasons now. But mostly, I hike.
I love long distance hiking for some of the same reasons I liked running: the meditative state you fall into after a few miles, the way your body can adapt and carry you for miles. I’m always surprised when I hop on a long distance trail and can pull off 20 mile days. It’s just walking, not rocket science. I never listen to music, and I don’t understand people who do. I don’t want to hear artificial sounds. I can hear those all the time. Why would I want to carry something like that into the mountains with me?
I’ve now hiked the length of the Pacific Crest Trail–2,560 miles. This was going to be the year to start chipping away at the Arizona Trail and possibly the Colorado Trail, but this year is not the year I planned. This will be a local year. It’s hard to do back to back 20 miles for days in my mountain range–it just isn’t that big. But I will adapt. I’ll do shorter hikes and go swimming. I’ll take naps. I’m ready.
I go solo a lot. I never used to as much but my friends are afraid of Covid, and one is moving away. Maybe I could feverishly recruit more people, for the sake of having people along, but I like my own company. I don’t need to hike with people just to have people along. I’m good with solo.