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RE: [pct-l] Physical recovery from thruhike

Hi Joanne,

I'm also a reader of the Ultra list that you reference.  The poster who
quotes the very low training miles you site has been criticized for
misleading people.  He does LOTS of cross training.  Most Ultra runners
train at least 50 miles per week.  Some as much as 100 before a big race.

That being said, the average PCT hiker comes off the trail having averaged
100-150+ miles per week for months.  That's QUITE a base.  And in my
opinion, a 20-something or 30-something PCT hiker with that kind of base can
easily walk a 50 mile Ultra and can probably walk a 100-mile Ultra with no
other training.  

Running is another matter entirely.  In '97 I found that I could not run at
all when I got off the trail.  I could walk all day, but a slightly faster
pace was VERY tiring.  I also had very sore feet.  It felt like all the
bones in my feet were bruised.

So the answer to your question is, it depends.  Did your body get really
beat up on the trail?  If so, and you're not in your teens or 20s, you'll
need time to recuperate.  I took 3 months off in '97 before I felt good
again.  (I was 36.)  By that time, I'd lost essentially all my PCT shape.  I
still had solid bones, joints and tendons, so I found that ramping up again
was easier than a complete restart, but my first run was a tough 3 miler!

This summer I did 830 miles on the PCT and did some running during the hike.
I'm much less beat up and have quickly converted my PCT shape to 50 miles
per week running.  I too have aspirations of running Ultras.

Assuming you're my age and don't have a problem more serious than stiffness,
you should be able to do the same.  Running 5-6 days per week should be no
problem as you're used to daily exercise.  Once you get some speed, you
should have little trouble running a weekly 20+ miler because you're used to
being on your feet for many hours at a time.  Since you've hiked the PCT, I
know you've learned to listen to your body and make adjustments as
necessary, and you know how to eat and drink while exercising.  These skills
will serve you well in your Ultra running career.

Those older than I am can certainly run Ultras.  There are plenty of people
in their 50s and 60s running 100s!  But injury is a greater risk with age.
Recovery time lengthens.  Flexibility is worse.  A hiker has a much shorter
range of motion than a runner.  That flexibility must be regained slowly to
avoid injury.  Just like hiking the PCT, slow and steady wins the race.

Have fun out there!

-----Original Message-----
From: Joanne Lennox [mailto:goforth@cio.net]
Sent: Monday, October 25, 1999 3:15 PM
To: pct-mailing list
Subject: [pct-l] Physical recovery from thruhike

I have been reading some of the training at the ULtra site  - for a hard
Ultra (Hardrock) one person was talking about 6 months of 25 miles/ week
and a bunch of ultras, and than 6 months of 10-15 miles per week before the
big plunge.  These guys are tuning their training down to a gnat's eyebrow.
 And their recovery.  And they were not doing 20 miles per day for 5

Yesterday I went on my first hour long walk-run, as a pre emptive strike to
keep from loosing all that conditioning that it took 9 months to build(4
months before the hike and 5 + months during the hike).

And today, I thought I haven't got a clue to what I am doing.  I remember
the two weeks at home before I restarted that last 1 1/2 month of the
thruhike - I didn't feel a lot different than the day I got home.  After a
week of being home now, I feel just about as tired.  And STIFF.  If I sit
for very long at all, it takes a couple minutes of moving around before I
get past the shuffle stage.

How do I recover and still keep my conditioning?  What kind of activity and
timeline are we taking here?  What should I be doing now if I wanted to do
another thruhike of the PCT next year? If I wanted to run a 50 mile race
next Spring? Or if I just wanted to be conditioned and healthy and go to
campground bar-b-ques all next summer( total PLan A stuff)?

I have come to the conclusion that it really takes years to become a good
thruhiker (maybe at my age).  I am a faster hiker than I was to began with
- the surprise was that it took more than 2,000 miles to get that "speed"
and it wasn't an impressive gain, but hey I am nothing if not persistent. 
I am just a total innocent about where you go from here, and I can easily
see that I might still, still be impatient  and scrimp on the recovery end
and than pay later.

All input and information appreciated!

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