Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Training for the Hunt: Trail Running Benefits

Training for deer season is something I do not take lightly. That is, I don't take it lightly NOW. As I have grown older and wiser, I understand the need for fitness and staying in good shape (not perfect shape) to get around and hunt well. Brett and I started out the spring by hiking with 80-100 lbs. on our backs. While that is good to strengthen our leg muscles, it did nothing for our cardio and endurance. Then we welcomed trail running to the mix.

Why trail running? The main reason is we need to prepare the best we can, in the time we have, for Colorado and the SoCal foothills. We both have families and jobs, but we make the time to train. Our biggest hurdle is that we live near the beach and there are few trails to run with good hills close by. That is except for one that works very well for us and is within 10 minutes of driving. The park is called Gum Grove Park and if you didn't hear about it from someone or see it on a map, you would have no idea it exists. It's a hidden gem because it's not two miles from Seal Beach and it has some good hills to run!

We both hate running on asphalt and it's super boring. I hate boring. I am also a social person (just check out my Twitter feed) and I like to see people when I run and I like to meet new people. We have met a few people asking what we are training for and I love the looks we get when we tell them we are bowhunting elk in Colorado. It's priceless! Plus, running on asphalt is nothing like hiking in the mountains. If I have to run on it I will, but if I have a choice it's going to be a dirt path.

To be honest, I started off by running on asphalt, then hiking with 90 lbs. on asphalt, and I got bored. When Brett and I discussed our training and how to improve, we opted for Gum Grove Park to do our hiking. That worked for a month and then we both knew we had to change it up. We weren't reaping the benefits of what was right there in front of us. We needed to improve our endurance and lung power and running was the answer.

Over the past month we have logged some good miles and our training has improved greatly. We are running every Tuesday evening and we burst up the hills each time. We don't walk them. If we walk it's on the downhills so we don't completely destroy our quads. We have to be smart, too. Those hills are covered with fallen plenty of eucalyptus leaves and one slip can be very dangerous and painful. We use caution and tread lightly.

Heron Pointe, Seal Beach, CA 90740
Parking area is before the gate (on left) at Heron Pointe, across from the Naval Weapons Station.

If anyone wants to join us for a run, feel free to meet up! If you do want to meet up, email me and I'll send directions. We start running at 6:00 PM. Remember, we are training our bodies for hunting season. It's not a competition, unless you want to compete against yourself. That's how I look at it. I want to better myself each time I am out there. I feel great about my progress and we are slowly increasing the challenges. Next week it's 2.5 miles of running followed by a 1.5 mile hike with 90# on our backs. I love a good challenge and can't wait to take it head on.

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