Thursday, July 18, 2013

pack training

it's been official for about a week now: barb and i are going to race in the bitter pill, which will be my first adventure race.

i have just begun pack training.

let's start at the beginning, shall we?

i'm not naturally athletic. i was a skinny, scrawny kid with no concept of how to throw a ball or where to run or any of the things kids kind of normally do. it's not that i didn't enjoy sporting activities; i simply have no aptitude.

i'm pretty good with endurance, though. when i was a tiny slip of a thing i learned to sail in a sunfish and my parents, wisely, thought it best i not take the boat out by myself unless i'd demonstrated that i could swim the width of the lake.

my little five-year-old-self was OUTRAGED.

well, i'll show THEM, i thought. i will swim the LENGTH of this thing.

so i did.

and in my early teens i took up backpacking and if you have been following my story for more than ten minutes you know that i am always going off to some wacky adventure or something.

bitter pill is a race suitable for first timers, and i have begun my training in earnest. by "training", i mean the part of the work you do in preparation for a specific event and not just the miles of running or biking or what-have you that you rack up just because.

i have to think carefully about my gear because i have some limitations in what kind of shoes i HAVE to wear on account of all the arthritis damage/ bone spurs in my left foot, and i don't compensate too well because of my general failure to have a full set of connective tissue in either knee, so going minimalist with shoes is not an option, nor is going without poles.

but whatever you carry for one of these things is what you carry for the WHOLE thing except there's a place i think you can drop your PFD and maybe your helmet when you're not required to have it, but everything else stays with your pack and you have to carry it.

and back in the day we didn't just have to break in our hiking boots, but our bodies and the packs. it's like saddle conditioning when you start riding a bike in the spring.

a lot of people think they have an uncomfortable saddle because they're sore after their first few hours of riding but the truth is you have to get used to any piece of equipment that you're going to use a lot, especially if it bears weight.

your saddle area WILL be sore until you're conditioned to it. likewise with a pack. until you're used to it your shoulders and hips and every part of you that bears the weight of it will be SORE.

and if you're going to be on the racecourse for eight or ten or twelve hours, you WILL be sore.

one way you can minimize this is by pack conditioning. you start out with a light pack (getting progressively heavier) and you wear your pack every day. doing the laundry? wear your pack. going for a walk? wear your pack.

you are excused from wearing the pack in public because a person in a grocery store with a full pack just looks dorky.

but the more you wear your pack, the more it will fell natural on race day. plus the more you take it on and off and adjust it and unpack and repack it, the faster you will do those things when you have to on race day.

doesn't that sound like fun?

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