January 25, 2021
I think there’s a bit in Psychovertical (the book), where I talk about walking to work (about 12 miles) carrying a heavy sack filled with books as my alpine training. I’m not sure why I carried books, as bottles of water are far more sensible, but I guess they were heavy and at hand. I had a red @aiguillealpine Droites pack, which was probably around 60 litres (the typical alpine sack size in the 90s, while now it’s probably about 30), so I’d get up early, stick on my yellow Sony Walkman (the waterproof one), and head off the work. I probably did this due to reading ‘Alan Rouse: A Mountaineer’s Life’ (well worth finding a copy), who also lived in Sheffield, and would do epic rucksack walks with people like Rab Carrinton, up hills in the peak carrying bags of sand. This was probably the main form of training over the years, after all, mountaineering and big wall training is generally all about carrying heavy shit from A to B, failing, the carrying back from B to A. In my time I carried some very heavy loads, like a 65kg person down from the top of El Cap, a pack in Patagonia that was so heavy it compressed my spine (I say 100kg, as it was heavier than Ian Parnell, but maybe just 60kg), two weeks food and climbing kit up to and around Mount Kenya (sans porters), and innumerable loads of water. And so it was interesting the find that ‘ruck walking’ was a thing, like cross-fit, with special packs, shoes and patches with flags and mottos on to stick on your back, like phrases like “Death or glory, hurrah!!!”. Yes, it’s an American thing. I should have known it was going to be the next big US-led fitness cult, after hearing David Goggins (‘Can’t Hurt Me’ highly recommended), talking about ‘ruck’ walks while training for the dead valley bad water race. Never the less, the ruck walk, or the Andy Kill Patrick ‘GET SOME’ system (copyright), is a very simple way to work on your base fitness, core strength, and spend a few hours - postman style - on the beat, listening to podcasts, pounding the streets or hills, just dreaming about where this fitness might lead you (even if it’s only home again).
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