Yes, I did manage to complete 20 runs of 1 mile in April, but the real challenge with running for me comes when I exceed about 20 minutes of running at a time. Stopping at the mile mark doesn’t stretch out what I need stretched out for backpacking, namely, the ilio-tibial band, specifically, the one on my right leg.
Without a good proper stretch, achieved through multiple runs of 30 to 60 minutes, on an at least weekly basis, my IT band will act up on a backpacking trip and make the first day on the trail, and a good part of the second, absolutely miserable as I stretch out that band while hiking with a 20 to 30 pound pack on my back.
I’ve done it. I know I can push through the pain, reduce the load on my hips (by putting most of the pack weight on my shoulders), and grit my teeth and make it through the day. That’s how my solo trip on the Queens River Loop started. But, knowing what I know about the cause of this issue, there’s absolutely no reason not to take preventative measures so I can enjoy my time on the trail a bit more.
So. I ran 30 minutes on an indoor track on Tuesday. It was supposed to rain all day, so I planned the track run. Of course, it didn’t actually rain that much, so I could have gone outside, but I wasn’t prepared for that. I stuck to my plan, which had the additional advantage of making me make lots of turns, which challenges the IT band a little extra.
I was also wearing my new hiking/running shoes. They are Altra trail running shoes, and I’m not one hundred percent sold on them being my new backpacking shoes, but I want to be. I mean, I did take them on a 7 mile hike up to Table Rock with a 14 pound pack, and they worked just fine for that. In fact, that was also the first trip I took with my new z-packs Arc Blast pack – a pack so light, it’s hardly even there (especially compared to my last pack). I’ll be writing a review on that once I have a few more trips with it knocked out. I definitely want to see how it does on an overnighter before I lay down my final judgments.
The Altras take some getting used to because they have zero heel drop, which makes your calves work harder at first as you adjust to the gait. When I tried running with them a couple weeks ago, I could hardly make it through a mile and a quarter because my calves ached so bad. They felt almost as bad today for the first fifteen minutes or so of my run, but I pushed through until the pain from the IT bad was worse and I could ignore my calves.
Actually, my run felt better and better the longer I ran. I felt looser and faster, though I was still running pretty slowly. It was just the IT band pain that bugged me, and I expected that since this was my first long run in a long, long time. I expect it will be less painful tomorrow, and even less the next time I run. I’m not sure when that will be, but it will be some time next week, because I’ve got to keep this up if I want to hike without going through all this pain yet again.