Thursday, August 23, 2012

Squats and deadlifts rule, a.k.a. "Is that a bunch of Gu packs in your pocket, or are you just happy to see me?"

We did our last hike of our California trip today, and it was a doozy. Maybe the highest amazing-view-to-effort-expended ratio of any hike I have ever been on. It was beautiful.

Kearsarge Pass sits at an elevation of 11,760 feet and it rises above the Owens Alley floor in dramatic fashion. Best of all, the trail there is direct and to the point -- either 8 miles round trip if you believe that link, or 10 miles if you believe the sign at the beginning of the trail, or the trail description that I read first in a completist volume entitled "California Hiking" from Foghorn Outdoors.

The trail does a steady series of switchbacks for 4 or 5 miles to a beautiful crest at a ridge that overlooks Kings Canyon National Park. Much like the vaunted Trail Crest on the Mount Whitney Trail, although not as drop-dead beautiful as that lovely spot, Kearsarge Pass gives the hiker a glimpse into The Land That Time (or more, precisely, Development) Forgot -- a roadless wilderness able to be glimpsed in full only from lofty heights.

And, just so you know just how effing happy it made me to be there, here is a shot of me at the crest of the pass next to the sign that tells the hiker that he or she is about to enter Kings Canyon NP.

But that happy pic is not the point of this post. No, once again, I am going to tell you how eating clean and lifting heavy shit has improved my life.

Yawn. Yeah, I know....

In all seriousness, this hike -- or some portion of it, most likely the downhill -- would have buried me a few years ago. I was 30 pounds heavier and not very strong, and it all would have added up to an OK ascent, and a punishing descent. My feet and legs would have been killing me by the end. They were most definitely *not* killing me today. I finished strong and happy. I even dare say that I *enjoyed* the long descent.

A couple of years of paleo/primal eating and CrossFit, particularly squats and deadlifts out the wazoo, has made me ready to handle the thumping and pounding of a long mountain downhill walk with a pack on my back. I also have tried to take my cues from all sorts of smart paleo sites, and have realized that how you eat directly affects athletic performance. So yeah, like on my Mount Whitney hike, I downed a *lot* of food today, some of which was a fair amount of (gluten-free) Gu energy gel, some of it caffeinated. And it kept me going. ("A fair amount" = one pack per mile (or so... heh)). Good, non-gluten, easily-digestible carbs are amazing for endurance-type activities.

Yup, there are only so many ways to say this: nutrition, clean eating and lifting heavy things will help your performance at all sorts of casual athletic endeavors.

Now go have fun having fun.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

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