Marathon Training

by Sarah Sinning

I have never been so sore in my entire life.  I kid you not—the entire lower half of my body feels like it’s been run through a meat grinder a few hundred times and then smushed back together to faintly resemble legs.  I can’t sit down without pain, I certainly can’t climb steps without pain, I can’t even walk in a straight line without pain.  In case I haven’t made myself clear enough—I hurt.

That must be some crazy kind of marathon training, I’m sure you’re thinking.  And you’re right; it certainly is—it’s called farming.

Yeah, I said it—farming.  I started a new part-time job at Perry-winkle Farm in Chapel Hill on Monday, and although I only had to work two days this week since it’s the beginning of the season, I feel like I’ve worked two weeks…without a break…in August.  Now, I realize I’m not in the best shape these days, but gauging by the way I feel right now, it would seem as if I hadn’t moved a muscle in years.   (If you need a good laugh, come watch me try to get into my car.) 

But don’t get me wrong—I’m certainly no slouch in the athletics department either.  Although I’m nowhere near as fit as I used to be a few years back, running up to 50 miles per week and strength training in preparation for trail ultra-marathons (yeah, I was one of those people), I still find the time a few afternoons per week to get out on the trail for a nice long run.  As a matter of fact, I thought I was getting back in shape rather handily, so much so that I actually had my sights on a 9-mile race coming up in May.  Well, I guess I was wrong—but at least I have Perry-winkle Farm to whip my tail back into fighting condition.

Seriously, my very first task on the farm was planting somewhere in the neighborhood of 650 pounds of potatoes, and although there were five of us to make it go faster, I still spent almost five hours doing every type of lunge and squat you can imagine in the field.  The good news is that I will have some truly killer legs in the next few months; the bad news is…well, you already know that. 

Actually, there is more good news than just great runner’s legs without ever once hitting the gym—not only am I learning an astonishing amount about organic farming, which I know will come in handy down the road, but more importantly, I’m learning a deeper respect than I have ever known for the tireless men and women who do this for a living.  Sure, working outdoors at this time of year is an amazing luxury, which I’m sure most folks reading this will envy, but this work is by no means for the faint of heart.

So the next time you shop at your farmers’ market or pick up your CSA basket, be sure to thank your farmer.  Or better yet, why not try it out for yourself to really understand where your food is coming from.  Incidentally, CFSA has just launched this great new intern referral service, where member farmers can post their requests for student labor and students can browse to find their ideal learning site.  Although I myself will be reporting back here periodically with all the cool tidbits I’m learning on the farm, nothing beats doing it yourself…that is, if you think you can handle it.