A Grand New Challenge

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So I’ve told you all about my journey into running and racing but I want to share with you a new fitness challenge I’ve recently taken on: Hiking! I’ve lived in some of the most wonderfully beautiful places to go hiking in my life yet I’ve never actually gotten out there and hit those mountainous trails or taken in the vistas from the top after a long, vertical trek save for a few random adventures that I wouldn’t say fully qualified me as a true hiker. That has all changed. Arizona living is all about the outdoors. I mean, who hasn’t put the Grand Canyon somewhere on their bucket list whether that means hiking it, flying over it, or just viewing it in person? Arizona is also home to the largest Municipal Park in the country (South Mountain) with over 51 miles of trails over-looking Phoenix and the surrounding valleys. It’s truly amazing and SO CLOSE to where I live which makes it the perfect training ground.

SO, how could I pass up the opportunity, as presented by my Father-in-Law, to hike the Grand Canyon Rim-to-Rim in ONE DAY? As this timeline is HIGHLY discouraged by the National Park itself and pretty much anyone who posts about it on the web, naturally, I’m all in. People do it all the time. Sure, those same people will give you an intense, crazy look when you mention that you are considering the feat and tell you that it’s HARDER than completing a MARATHON, but why not push myself to the limit? If I’m going to do this Grand Canyon thingy, I’m going to give it all I have and earn my bragging rights!! I guess it IS possible that my last Half Marathon maaaay have inflated my ego a bit…

I haven’t even actually BEEN to the Grand Canyon before either. I hear it’s quite majestic and can’t wait to see it with my own eyes. Too bad pops-in-law says I’ll pretty much be looking at my feet the whole time or far too exhausted to look up. Sounds intense, right? Knowing this and watching YouTube videos of people who’ve done it, I understand the need for over 6 months of training. Right now, I’m about 4 months in and while it’s new and hard, it’s great (as well as good bonding time with family)!

I highly recommend hiking to anyone with any level of interest or ability in physical fitness. You will discover muscles you never knew you had no matter how fit you are. I was very sore those first few hikes, let me tell ya! But it’s that GOOD sore, like “what a workout! Give me a bagel! (seriously, give it to me because I am too sore to get up and get it)”. Another cool thing about hiking is that it takes TIME. Running is quick for most. There is little taking in of the sights or planning out your whole grocery list while you are blasting your favorite tunes or watching to make sure you don’t get run over by a car or an aggressive biker. Hiking is good reflection, or even meditation, time and the rewarding view from the top after scaling the mountain is well beyond worth it! PLUS, you ARE out in nature and all its beauty, miles away from the noise of the city streets. SOAK IT IN! (Note: You should still remain vigilant of those daredevil mountain bikers. They can mow an innocent hiker down FAST!).

One of the greatest advantages I found with hiking, though, is how it improves my running. All those new muscles in the core and legs and the endurance gained in hiking for 5 hours make running EASIER. It’s important to switch it up once in a while to get a total body workout, sure. We all know that. The coolest thing about getting stronger is the increased efficiency in my running and increased efficiency makes it more FUN. I love fun. WIN-WIN!