Another weekend is in the books. A great weekend actually. (Yeah....spending lots of time with the man I 'really like' is always a good time!)
A few weeks back we purchased a year pass to the Shenandoah National Park. We have enjoyed our hikes and this past weekend was no different. This weekend we hiked to Mary's Rock. If you climb to the top of the rock you have a 360 view.....it's pretty awesome.... and pretty high up there. You can see the road down below...that is where my car was parked! Lots of switchbacks to get to the top!
The views on the climb up were pretty spectacular also....simply because you come to overlooks and climb along a trail that is on the edge the whole way up the mountain.
The hike to Mary's Rock (from the North going south on the AT....Appalachian Trail) was just shy of 4 miles round trip. We have been hiking more, so after visiting Mary's Rock we traversed southward for a few miles before retracing our steps back to the car.
Jason and I hike companionably. Of course we talk quite a bit while hiking. But in all honesty, we also both appreciate sitting back and enjoying the peace and quiet of nature. This past weekend I had some time to think.........what was the foremost question in my mind? Well there were two questions. The first question was ...Why is hiking SOOO much more difficult this year in comparison to last year????? The second question was similar......and it was Why in the world are my knees giving me grief this year....I hiked equally if not worse trails and my knees handled it SO much better.
The silence and beauty of nature and company of a really awesome man gave me the time I needed to solve all the worlds woes....or maybe just to come to a valid conclusion as to what the issue is that is causing hiking to be so physically difficult for me this year.
There are a few factors at play here......
Last year when I stepped into hikes that were much more strenuous I was coming off of zumba classes......I was at times going to 3-4 classes a week. That's a lot of zumba. At the end of 2015 we stopped classes for the holidays...just like normal...but in the interim the classes were cancelled. I was heartbroken. These classes had been my salvation for YEARS. In the past year I have seen certain aspects of my fitness start to disintegrate. No...maybe not that drastic, but I was eventually able to start to see the difference. Why didn't I go to another class? My work schedule is wonky and finding one that I could attend (I need a class that begins after 7PM...that's hard to find...and the only one/ones that I found were with an instructor that I did NOT like!) I'm sure that the fitness level that Zumba helped me achieve definitely made hiking easier last year.....and I'm sure it helped my knees....I have been told many times that the only real non-invasive help for arthritic knees is to build up the muscles to help support the messed up cartilage...zumba certainly helped that! But without zumba, well........
Another factor into this difficulty that I am experiencing? Right about the time that I met Jason I had given up on the plan to run in a half marathon due to health reasons...pneumonia. (Temporarily given up...it's still in the back of my mind.) I was running QUITE a bit.....for me at least! But yeah, I'd say 15-20 miles a week is a lot. It was only a few months after I lowered my mileage that I started hiking a lot with Jason. In comparison I have run very little lately. VERY little....as in I got new running shoes in October.....and I have less than 20 miles on the shoes.....9 runs.....that's it! (as a side note.....my pace dropped drastically from the point when I gained the weight too!!!!!)
My....I was in much better shape last year at this time!!!!!
There is another HUGE factor that comes into play with this change in how I feel while hiking...... my weight. During the months of October, November and December I gained some weight....about 10-15 pounds. That's big enough to cause the issues with hiking!
As for the knee....the earlier factors definitely play a part...but the weight is the biggest. I am nearing the point where I start to have major problems with my knees. I know that the more weight I have on my body the more issues and pain I deal with!!!! I know what weight I have been that the knees really start to kick...and what weight the knee pain almost totally disappears....I'm REALLY close!
So the hike was beneficial to my mental state...I got some things squared away in my mind...grabbed some kisses here and there.....saw some beautiful things.....and got some exercise. Even without that clarity, it was well worth the effort to get to the top. Would I do it again today if given the chance? Absolutely...the view was breathtaking...the effort was well spent....and well, it should get easier each time!
How do I fix this????? Well for one I need to get the weight OFF of my body. Plain and simple....the excess weight HAS to go!
I wrote just the other day that I made the vow to change in December and that January has been a slow change of getting back into healthier habits. I started tracking religiously and I got my food closer to where it needs to be! My weight has leveled off..no more gaining and I actually lost weight last week!
My calorie count last week was actually really good...
Now I just need to focus on making sure that the food is the best possible options...the most nutritious and healthy for me and I'll be right in line with what I need to do to get this weight off!
The second half of the equation to fix this problem is exercise. We plan on hiking as much as possible this year....in fact we purchased a year pass for the Shenandoah National Park....and we have talked about trying to hike each of the trails....more than 500 miles. We plan on spending some time on our bikes also. But I also need to jump in on the weekdays with activity. Running.....video tapes....the stair stepper....anything and everything I can think of!
So to that end, this morning I woke up. I got out of bed and boy was I stiff. I hung out a bit in bed but knew that if I wanted to turn the course of this ship that I had to make my move. So I hobbled my say out of bed and into running clothes and out I went. I didn't run fast.....I didn't set any records.... I was lucky to get in my 2 miles (ok ok ok...1.97 miles....somehow I turned at the mile point but ended up with 1.97).....I hurt...I did it.
I can do this!!!
Next up on the agenda for conversation? The 2017 in 2017. It is difficult for me to get the necessary 5.5 miles a day. I work a desk job.....that means I SIT. Last week I kind of just blew off the week and didn't give a hoot about my mileage....but still in spite of my attitude of disinterest managed to get 20.06 miles.....I need 38.85 a week! I ended the month of January with 124.12 miles......I was 47.93 short. That's only 4 easy bike rides.. I can make that up when the weather is nice and I'm biking!!!!
So my dilemma right now.....I know if I go to the gym I can knock out some of those miles on the exercise bike. (Oh heavens...biking has been more difficult too...but that difficult can be attributed to the same factors that I have listed earlier in this post!). But I never seem to make it to the gym. My dilemma....I'm thinking about cancelling my gym membership....money constraints! What to do...what to do.....