Learning to Walk
Something that's been on my mind since I started training for Sheep Mountain - learning to walk. When I was a "runner" and speed was my goal, I didn't walk. I ran. I never subscribed to the Galloway "gallowalking" method of racing and training - preferring to moderate my running effort so that I could run the entire event. As a mountain biker, there is a sense of pride that come with riding everything. No walking on the rocks - ease off and ride it all. Eventually, I'll be able to ride everything at full speed and smoothly. Off the bike for hike-a-bike was fine, but otherwise, I'd better be giving it a full hearted effort to ride! So walking wasn't something I've ever planned for or trained for.
And now - as I start looking at increasing long runs and need for elevation gain, I realize I have to learn to walk. Long "run" may be the term I'm using, but it is really just tIme on the feet, making forward progress towards the end goal. The long run with Amber last week was the perfect example of that - time on feet and forward momentum. We had no agenda when we headed west, but did try to find some nice hills. And while I could have run it all, at what cost? I figured that out early in one of my other trail runs. Forcing the pace up some of the hills meant my legs weren't happy when it came to the inevitable descents. So this time I made the choice to walk early and often. It's a change of mind for sure, as well as a different style of long run training. I'm good at the continuous run, steadily moving at a decent clip until the distance is finished. With the ultra long runs, there's parts that are steady running, but others that require a smooth transition from running to hiking and back to running. That's a weakness of mine - the transition and something I will be addressing as I learn to walk and not just run.
Why is this so important? There are hills in my goal race that even attempting to run would be silly. Sheep Mountain has nearly 10k feet of climbing over the 50 miles. And what goes up must come down since it's a lollipop style course. I did a shortish long run out there last year, just to see what I was in for. I ran the Limbet Grove trail and the ascent of Sheep Mountain, then came down Brown's Pass to return to the van. Three miles took me over an hour to complete and I was trying to keep the pace up! Running some of the climbs I saw last year would be crazy in terms of completing the event - and near suicide for any chance at time goals. And it begins - the retaining of my brain to accept walking and the practice to make it efficient.