This weekend I found myself driving up to Coyote Ridge outside of Ft. Collins, Colorado for my first hike of 2018. I have not been on these trails or any mountain trail very often the past two years. In 2016 I had half of my meniscus removed and my recovery was not quick. The past two summers I focused more on bike riding since it is easier on the knees. I did a few hikes but I found myself frustrated at what I perceived to be a dramatic loss of strength. I am ready to hike on a regular basis again. I am feeling much stronger and I feel that it is time to head back up to the hills.
As a pulled into the Coyote Ridge parking area a familiar feeling rose up inside of me. Before my surgery I had begun trail running. Countless hours had been spent training on these trails. My mind flashed back to meeting my friends Shawna and Jason at 5 am on weekends as we prepared for what would be my first and only half marathon.
As if on cue, the moment I stepped from the parking lot onto the trail, several trail runners who had been walking next to me broke out into a warm-up pace jog and whisked quickly on by. My heart sank just a little. ” That was then, this is now.” I told myself and regained my resolve to have a great hike. I felt strong as I climbed. My heart rate was up just enough to feel the workout but not so high that I had to sit down. I had a good pace, the weather was perfect, and the scenery beautiful. I ended up hiking 4.5 miles and about 500 ft. elevation gain which was just perfect for my knee. When I reached the 2 mile mark I was tempted to go much further before turning around because I knew some of the best scenery was still ahead. I could tell however, my knee would be done long before I got down to the parking lot if I continued on. That’s OK. I have a starting point. I know what a comfortable distance and elevation gain is for me at this point. Now, I can talk with my trainer, Mark, about goals for the summer.
That’s the thing about life. We don’t know when we are going to get thrown a curve ball . Things change and we adapt. It is not always pleasant or easy. Before my injury I planned to run for many years to come. I had my eyes set on a half marathon near the Grand Canon for 2016 and was entertaining the idea of possibly training for a full marathon. It never occurred to me I would spend the better part of two years trying to regain flexibility, strength, and dealing with arthritic pain. There were many days when getting through a day of teaching was tough on my body.
Mark’s Business is named Evolve ( @icanevolve on Facebook if you want to check out his page.) and that is what I intend to do. I am getting stronger every day. It may not be exactly the way I had envisioned but I am definitely stronger and wiser, for moving forward.
As a side note, I did not injure my knee running. It was an ill thought out moment during a teacher in-service day involving a skate board and a slick gym floor.
As we age, we become aware that it is quality of life is of utmost importance. As I move through my 50’s I am grateful for the opportunity to get out in nature and move. I want to be as healthy and strong as possible in the years to come.
I would love to hear your thoughts on hiking and physical fitness as we age. Have you tried something new or had to give up something that you used to enjoy?
Until next time,