I Need A New…

So now my first few short training runs are in the bag; six months to go.

Being well into “middle age” (and retired from professional life for a few years now) does not make me old. The body may age, but I refuse to get old. That’s a conscious decision we can all make.

Last year, my logbook indicated that I ran, walked, and hiked a total of 2,700 miles in calendar 2016. At the start of that year, our local running club, the Lake County Milers, posted a mileage challenge―speaking to my competitor’s spirit―and I had some big things planned for the year. For example, I trained for and ran only one ultramarathon, the Redwoods Creek 50K (31 miles), and then I planned for and hiked the John Muir Trail in California (approximately 220 miles plus an additional 30 miles to join the JMT from Cottonwood Lakes trailhead). I also walked my second Camino de Santiago in Spain, the Via de la Plata (625 miles).

John Muir Trail, California, 2016

Via de la Plata, Spain, 2016

Following those milestones, and over this last winter, I took some time off, rode my bicycles a bit, and worked on muscle tone at one of our local gyms. Oh, and I hoped the pain in my foot wasn’t plantar fasciitis. The downsides to all of this winter inactivity (relatively so, for me) were weight gain, anxiety, too much wine consumption (in my opinion), and restlessness. I needed to get my foot pain sorted out, and I needed something new to focus my competitive spirit on. I needed a new challenge. But first, the foot.

I developed a mastermind of advisors in the hope of solving the foot issue with their help. I talked with friends and acquaintances. I received all sorts of advice—all good, usually beneficial—but all attempts provided only temporary relief. Knowing I didn’t want to hear a confirmation of fact, a wise friend of mine was very tactful when he said, “Maybe just treat it like it’s plantar fasciitis, and see what happens.”

I tried every known stretch, exercise, anti-inflammatory, and home remedy. I tried ice, heat, and vibration, and I got really frustrated. Nothing seemed to help the pain in my heel for long. I would try something and rest for a while, and then I would try to walk a few miles or run a bit. But the next morning, the pain would be back just like the last time. I don’t like focusing on the bad things that come my way, but it’s super frustrating when you are accustomed to being very active and are sidelined.

The ever popular frozen water bottle.

The vibrating, heated Acumo Massage Ball.

The Strassburg Sock™.

So I gave up on self-help, fought my own resistances, and eventually sought professional advice. It was a last-ditch effort to solve this long-term issue. By the way, you wouldn’t believe how many people I’ve talked with who have suffered from this malady. So off I went to see the docs. I got x-rays and ended up receiving a dreaded steroid shot in my heel. Let me tell you, that bloody hurts! Fortunately, only for a short time.

So now the heel was on the road to recovery, and I was back to looking for that new challenge.

And then it happened; it found me. A few weeks back, I received an e-mail from the French organization that put on the stage race in the Sahara, which I ran back in 2014. The e-mail said that the organization would hold its first-ever stage race in Peru (in the Ica Region’s desert) this fall. And the introductory price for previous finishers of the race in Morocco was very attractive.

I just received word from the French: “We are pleased to confirm your registration for the MDS PERU.”

Here is an explanation about the race from the official website:

The MARATHON DES SABLES PERU will take place from 26 November to 6 December 2017. It will replicate the original race: approximately 250 km divided into 6 stages, to be completed at free pace in self-sufficiency conditions in a desert environment and with the support of a quasi-professional organising team.

The event will take place in the Ica desert, 300 km south of Lima. Endurance lovers competing in this first MARATHON DES SABLES will discover the most beautiful South American desert. They will move about in one of the world’s driest regions, with huge dunes and sandy plateaux perched between the Pacific Ocean and the Andes cordillera.

Of course, the organisers will export across the Atlantic the core values that have patiently laid the foundations of MARATHON DES SABLES: thirst for challenges and adventure; sharing with the largest number of people; safety of everyone; self-respect; and care for the environment. Organised with the full and active support of the Peruvian authorities, MDS PERU also aims to spotlight the beauty of this charming region.

Pictures from MDS Peru Facebook page

Oh sure, I’m aging (beats the alternative), but I’m not an old man. And why should that stop me anyway? Or anyone?

Hiking the John Muir Trail – Early Days

I was freezing! Pondering this notion over and over in my head as I lay in my sleeping bag, I decided: Indeed, I am freezing! And freezing every night for the next two weeks was not going to be much fun. Did I underestimate the cold? Did I not pack the right gear? It was far too late for these questions. (more…)

An Ambulatory Retreat: Hiking The John Muir Trail

My blog has been quiet these past couple of weeks, as I’ve been busy hiking the John Muir Trail (JMT). I’d like to spend a few posts sharing my latest adventure with you. These vignettes will, hopefully, inspire you to continue preparing for your own travel adventures.

During a recent hike with like-minded local chapter members of American Pilgrims on the Camino, I first overheard the term ambulatory retreat used to describe walking the Camino de Santiago in Spain. An ambulatory retreat, in my mind, can be any trek out in nature. It is a restorative trek, a healing one. I don’t remember the woman’s name who used the term, or I’d give her credit, but perhaps she, too, had heard it elsewhere. Either way, I am quite fond of the term and its intended meaning.

Members of the local chapter of American Pilgrims on the Camino, Muir Woods National Monument. Photo credit: Brien Crothers

Members of the local chapter of American Pilgrims on the Camino, Muir Woods National Monument. Photo credit: Brien Crothers


How to Properly Train for Your World Travel Adventures

Some of the world’s great sights (such as the ancient Mayan city of Coba on the Yucatán Peninsula, Mexico) include a fair amount of walking

Last week, in my latest installment on preparing for world travel, I encouraged you to check with your physician or, at a minimum, do a very honest self-assessment before starting a conditioning schedule to meet your adventure dreams. This week, I’d like to discuss progressive training, a method of gradually conditioning your body, to meet the demands of your travel destination. I will also provide you with a generic training plan. In future posts, I will discuss specific goals like hiking the John Muir Trail in California and the Camino de Santiago in Spain. Though specific, the training methods for these locations can be modified to meet your needs. (more…)

Ready, Set, Go!

Photograph: Alamy


Last week I introduced a new series on preparing for your world travel adventures. In that post, I invited you to step out of your comfort zone, broaden your horizons beyond your usual athletic activities, and allow me to be your guide as you embark on traveling the world. I also told you about some of the great once-in-a-lifetime trips that have inspired my lifelong love of travel.

Depending on how your health may, or may not, align with your travel dreams and adventure plans, before you head out the door to aggressively train in the nearest hills, let’s discuss preliminaries (yes, boring stuff, I know!). Some of the first steps to preparing for your adventure are getting a medical assessment from your doctor and then beginning a gradual training program.   (more…)

Awaken Your Travel Bug

Back in high school—oh, so many years ago—a friend of mine gave me a travel article his father had written about a trip to Hong Kong. Looking back, I realized that one article was the seed of my love of adventure and world travel, and it reinforced my own upbringing in which my father always wondered what was over the next rise.

A few of my earlier journals

A few of my earlier journals. Photo credit: Brien Crothers


Oh So Many Things

Front cover, Su Camino...

Since returning from Spain last summer and sitting down to write about that experience, the one point of that resulting book people repeatedly take away is, “You guys walked 500 miles in 20 days!” We did the Camino Frances in 20 days, due to time constraints, and more as an athletic Camino than a pilgrimage. I too, just like walking and have a good pace, from years of experience.

However, WHEN I do another Camino, I will explore more, stick my head—and the rest of me—into churches more often, I will go to Samos, I’ll venture into museums, and go off the beaten path, go to that village not on the Camino to experience real rural Spain, away from the pilgrim crowds and supporting infrastructure.

Oh, so many things to see, so many roses to smell, so much cafe con leche to drink, so many people to chat with and enjoy their company. Enjoy your Camino, wherever it may lead.

A short excerpt from the book, Su Camino… “I’ve never felt so peaceful in mind, body and spirit as during my time on the Camino de Santiago. Oh sure, there were times when cursed at by a Spanish driver (a pretty senorita) for walking on the wrong side of her village street. Or, when navigating a narrow passage as a large transport truck bore down on the same space at the same time. And that seemingly relentless summer heat. Those temperatures would not have been so bad, I suppose, but our pace, our effort, our daily distance and hours on the trail, all compounded as a foundation of that persistent beast. However, never in my waking hours have I felt so at peace for such a long period of time as when in northern Spain, walking the Camino with my travel buddy Karla and hundreds of others—all friends, I didn’t know.”


When the Cat’s Away—the Weeds Grow

Photo credit: Reg Garcia Photography

Our moving to the Mayan Riviera for a portion of last winter was an experiment, one that included many questions: What would it cost? how long could we comfortably stay away from home? how badly would we miss all our friends and close relatives back home? where were the best tacos in town? were there decent (more…)

Name Your Price, in Playa del Carmen

Better, cheaper, longer—or living large, what’s it going to be? The tagline for the well-known travel blogger, Nomadic Matt is Travel Better. Cheaper. Longer. That works great for many people and is my preferred method, especially when by myself or with like-minded friends, traveling fast and light, and out to discover.

playa del carmen grand hyatt