Sunday Hike: An easy day in the Gorge

Zach crossing under Upper Horsetail Falls

Zach crossing under Upper Horsetail Falls

It's been a week of hard work and fatigue, so the order of the day was some relaxing exercise.

The training plan asked for a 14 mile run, but I've been nursing some mild strains and was feeling fatigued.

How to know with training, whether to stick to the plan or change it? 

My experience in coaching, athletics and mountaineering, is that intuition is usually wrong. This is because we can have a tendency to ignore logic, then listen to our fears and emotions. When out of our comfort zone we can think of the worst case and find an excuse. We can revert to the old way of doing things, or we can choke.

Any endeavor worth doing, is going to have us out of the comfort zone, so right when we have an opportunity to grow - and our lizard brain tells us to stop - it's usually best to stick with the plan, feel the fatigue (much of which is imagined), feel the fear (most of which is imagined), get calm and move forwards. This, of course assumes that the plan is, to begin with, balanced and sound (beware the training program or trainer (or self) who is pushing you hard, constantly - for that will never work).

However, if we over-do-it consistently, if we push too hard, don't rest and not listen to our bodies - we'll never achieve anything, because we'll plateau and then go backwards. 

So before making an exception, a useful question is to ask could be; "Am I building up, or tearing down?" Also, "Am I rested?". 

As a personal example; last weekend I was sick, I have two muscle strains, a goodly amount of poison oak on my legs. As many of us do, I've some decisions to make that have created emotional stress. Added to this, I've not slept particularly well all week.

Sticking to the plan, today, might have been the right thing. I may have broken through and gained some mental and physical strength towards my goals. However, the consequences of a bad training day, may well have been more muscle strain and more fatigue. With only two weeks from the run I'm preparing for - I don't want that risk. Plus, I'm a trainer, so I have to practice what I teach. It's better to do too little, than too much.

It's not about the race, either, that's just an event - a milestone really. What matters to me is consistency, growth and increased wisdom (for my self and the people I train with). What matters is stacking the odds in our favor, so we have the best chance of progress. 

So chillaxing-won-the-day. My friend Zack was feeling the same, so we spent 2 or 3 hours on the trail at a leisurely pace. We stopped at waterfalls, sat on rocks, ate sandwiches, stared up at the sky and trees, played in the river, jumped in the pools and it was wonderful. I came home, lay on my bed and napped for two hours. 

I hope that personal anecdote is helpful to anyone and it's tough to know when to take an extra recovery day. In Fit By Nature, we described the 80% rule, which means that your plan should succeed at 80% of the planned training. (personally, I'm at 95% adherence to my current plan over the past 12 weeks, which is high for me, I'm not always so disciplined). If you are ahead of the curve, if your general trend is upwards and if your risk from training outweighs the expected benefit -- it might be time to play that 'rest-card'. I lost nothing today, but I gained a rest, helped my muscle strains and generally relaxed. My friend turned to me at the end of our hike and said, "I feel really peaceful after that". I felt the same.   

Oh the hike route? We went by Horsetail Falls, Triple Falls and up the Oneonta Gorge. A lot of folks on the trails and it's easy to see why, it was a lovely day. I mapped it but forgot to start the tracker so there's only some of the route. 

Looking upwards from the bottom of oneonta gorge

Looking upwards from the bottom of oneonta gorge

Oh and on a hot day....who can resist this? :)


john colverComment