“In preparing for battle I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.” – Dwight D. Eisenhower
As I plan my attempt to thru-hike the Arizona Trail this fall I am forced to consider myriad topics – gear, water & nutrition, injuries & pain management, navigation & pace, resupply, gear repairs/replacements, and the inevitable mental challenges that all long distance hikers face. They all deserve considerable attention. In truth, those obstacles aren’t what I’m worried about. It’s my body.
You see, I’ve added a few pounds over the years. In addition I have some nerve and structural issues in my back and lower legs. It appears that years of hard living (football, Marine Corps, mountain biking, gravitational-assisted earth impacts, etc) followed by inactivity leads to chubby, broken people. I’m worried that my body just won’t take the abuse, injuries notwithstanding, despite my mental & intestinal fortitude.
The reason I’m most fearful of this outcome isn’t because I will have failed, but because I will have failed a long time ago when I decided to live plushy. I have no doubt in my mind that I could prevail over the mental challenges and loneliness; but to be physically incapable of finishing, not as a result of injury, is a reflection of myself. It speaks to my ability and desire to take care of myself. I believe that one of the cornerstones to happiness is a thriving physical existence, as far as your body can take you.
I went to a massage therapist who specializes in structural issues of the human body the other day. She was a professional – she asked a series of questions, made me do some basic movements then flopped me on the table and began prodding. She was surgical with those fingers! The short story is that after 90 minutes of poking she’d released a multitude of issue points. I feel better today than I have in months. The changes she made make it possible for me to actually exercise; before it was a self-inflicted torture session.
It was never a question of whether or not I was going to attempt the hike had I not stumbled on to this therapist. It was more of a question of how bad was it going to get.