Running and Backpacking: A Quick Comparison

What do they have in common?

"Hmm, do you think replacing my 10-mile long run with a 22-mile backpacking trip this weekend will be sufficient?"

Based on how my legs feel (the words "ow" and "jelly" come to mind) I'd say yes! Of course running 10 miles is a completely different mental experience than backpacking 10 miles. Or is it? Here are a few things the two activities have in common:

1) Pain
Yep, running is painful. Backpacking is painful. There's the pain in your legs as lactic acid builds up, the pain in your throat from gasping for air, and the pain in your head from all the effort. We all know pain is part of the picture of running and backpacking, so on to the next item.

2) Sensation of being crushed
In running you're pounding the pavement step after step, crushing all your weight into your feet in a quick impact. In backpacking, you're slowly crushing your feet with the heavy pack weight. Either way you better really like the feeling of the ground eating your feet.

Stock photo; not one of mine. Note: who wants to model running while I snap pictures? Because I can't photograph myself apparently. Also, who wears those kind of shorts to run in?? ;P

3) Endurance
Running has all the effort concentrated into a set distance, but at least you're moving faster and can hope to finish the task sooner. When backpacking you need to be able to keep moving for days. Stuck in a swamp where black mud tries to suck your shoes off your feet? Better keep moving. Saw some fresh bear scat on the trail? Better keep moving. No place to pitch a tent or hang a hammock for the night? Better keep moving. You get the picture.

4) The rush of the reward
If you've finished a run or finished a backpacking trip, there's always that wonderful rush at the end: that blissed-out feeling of "I did this!" For runners it's usually accompanied with some wild-eyed stares and space blankets and bananas and maybe a beer. For backpackers it's usually accompanied by some pretty potent B.O. In either case, it's that rush of endorphins rewarding you for torturing your body, and whispering, "Don't you want to do this again soon?"

But here's something my backpacking trips don't currently have: fundraising for race charities! This time it's for the UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center with the Tar Heel 10 Miler. Check out the widget below or my fundraising website, and leave comments on what other things you think running and backpacking have in common!


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