The Zen of hiking

There is a peak called Grandeur Peak, 15 minutes from where I live in Salt Lake. It is known as a great training peak. To do it under an hour says that you are at a great level of fitness.

When trying to break the sub hour mark, I was stuck at 1 hour and 2 minutes. I tried over and over again and without fail I would finish at 1 hour and 2 minutes with a round trip time of 2 hours and 30 minutes.

How could one break 60 seconds when I already felt that I was going as fast as I can?

Tactics needed to be changed.

I armed myself with a GU packages and did some experimenting. I knew that my body would hit a wall at the 50 minute mark, so at 45 minutes I would pop a GU pack in. I also decided to run the flat spots. There is one major section at the beginning to gain some time (dangerous to exert yourself so early) and 3 more sections throughout the hike. I finally told myself to shoot for 58 minutes in hope that I would finish seconds before the hour mark.

The time came; pushing through to the top I hit my wall in the final 7 minutes on the summit ridge.

Gasping for air and willing myself through to the end, I pulled out my phone to hit the timer. I had finished in 56 minutes, crushing my previous PR (personal record). The round trip time was still 2 hours and 30 minutes.

The Zen of hiking:

  • Finishing the goal, there was no prize or certificate of achievement, just the satisfaction of doing something hard was all that was gained. Finishing this goal left a whole that needed to be filled. A new challenge was needed.
  • A change of tactics was needed to get a different result. Doing the same thing over and over again saw no improvement.
  • The last 7 minutes might have been the hardest 7 minutes (physically) in my life. Was all this effort to finish quicker to the top worth it when the round trip time remained unaffected? It’s an interesting question. In some ways yes and others ways no. The key is to learn that when putting maximum energy into something you will only be a little better by shaving a few minutes. The key is to be intentional; knowing when getting the extra results is needed and when giving effort (without killing yourself) can achieve many of the same results.
  • I love hiking but at the beginning I stated, “to do it under an hour says you are at a certain level of fitness”, I was living in a world of measurement. I was measuring myself to others. Instead I need to learn to live in a world of possibility, that hiking is something that calms my soul; it helps me challenge myself to get over the hurdles we see in everyday life. I aimed for the 58 minute mark and surprised myself with 56. Makes me wonder about the mental constraints we put on ourselves everyday.

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Josh Allred

Professional blogger. Impresario. Helping others to leap.