Sometime around the the end of August while out for dinner on the town, my significant other introduced me to the parent of one of her students. This happens frequently. After he left our table she mentioned that he did an annual Grand Canyon trek to raise monies for impoverished individuals and that we should participate.
I have now hiked multiple Colorado Fourteeners and nearly summited Mt. Rainer (blizzard turned us around) so I signed off on the endeavor.
Within a few hours and before I was officially notified, I was signed up to trek the Grand Canyon. Flights booked. The whole nine yards.
A couple of organizational meetings came and went. I did not attend. As the third meeting rolled around I decided I should at least introduce myself to the other trekkers.
I rolled up full of myself and took a seat at the table. Paperwork passed around the table. I ordered a beer and started to study my handout. Suddenly, my eyes focused in on two figures that until that moment somehow escaped my understanding of my commitment.
My heart jumped ten beats. Reality hit me. We ( I ) are seriously behind on our preparation!
It's not like I don't walk or take steps during the normal course of the day. In the world of 10,000 steps per day as the recommended number I tend to average a click or two North of 13,000 daily. Weather permitting, I manage a couple of dog walks totaling around 45 minutes. Typically I only sit at the end of the day.
I immediately mapped out an aggressive progression to get us to roughly half the distance we would seek to accomplish that day. It was going to be impossible to do much more. So off we went.
Here are a few of the pieces that composed our training week and some lessons I learned.
- ADDING WEIGHT TO OUR PACKS The game day pack will typically be around fifteen pounds or less. That is mostly water, electrolytes and food. I made my training pack weigh around 20-25 pounds. The technical term is rucking. It's a noun and a verb.
- WALKING FASTER The trek itself will be around 2.0-2.5 mph on average. We typically have averaged 3.5 mph.
- PRE EXHAUSTION Weekly speed rucks occurred after some leg work or other modality like cycling. The idea would be to make the rucking part more strenuous since the legs had been used prior to the trekking.
- SANDBAG CARRIES I did these. She did not. I think it helped from a getting comfortable with uncomfortable standpoint but I see little physiological or biomechanics transfer. That does not mean they do not have a place. I grew to love/hate my MEAN & GREEN Sandbag.
- HICT (High Intensity Continuous Training) This is a method I learned during my BIOFORCE CERTIFICATION last Spring. It involves heart-rate > 80% typically at low RPM on a Bike. For my challenge I used my RUCK or XVEST for Step ups. Something in the 10-20 minute range each session.
-Generally two midweek rucks with CrossTraining and strength compliment. Then two longer rucks on Saturday and Sunday.
-I realized that walking was repetitive enough to develop 'shin splints' and that you can not ignore this annoying condition. Need to follow the ten percent rule to the letter. Time was at a premium and so I pushed my limit.
Two weeks ago we followed most of the Kansas City Marathon. This would be the peak of our distance day.
I remember a time when I looked down my nose at walking. I think it was my age and the ability to move anyway I liked and play any game I had chosen. Times have changed and with it so has my aging body and connective tissue.
This preparation has given me a new appreciation for walking with weight on your back. Everyone can build up to longer walks with weight and benefit from the fitness. At 200 pounds and with 20 pounds in my pack I can expect to burn 230-280 calories per hour. This is low heart rate stuff so according to most of the authorities the dominate energy supply is going to be fat! Low impact! Low to moderate heart rate! Fat burning. All are good things.
It has improved my perception of the city and sites around me. I have learned little things I have missed going hell bent for election all the time. This has been good. Is walking meditative? Maybe.
Christopher McDougall said we are BORN TO RUN. I say we are born to walk or ruck take your pick.
UPDATE: Just as I was finishing this piece I learned that our plan to trek the Canyon has changed. My best girl friend's son suffered a serious knee injury a few weeks ago. The condition is serious enough that surgery needs to happen fast. As a result, we are cancelling our plan and deferring to trek on the 10 Anniversary of this fund raiser in 2019.