Time Trial

Finally, someone who understands why they’re called “shorts.”

At the GORUCK Heavy Challenge, after some refreshing PT, you start the 24 hours with a twelve-mile timed ruck. You need to walk it in 3½ hours or you can be disqualified.

Lauren Four Boots and I were discussing this menacing prospect in the middle of a hike in the foothills. Already tired and a little footsore, I supposed we must have already traveled a long way. So I was crestfallen when Ms. Multiboots checked her GPS and found that, in two hours, we’d only moved three miles as the crow flies. 

I wondered aloud whether this meant I was destined to flunk the Heavy Challenge before the sky was even dark. 

So I did a full-dress rehearsal that night, a 12-mile out-and-back with the regulation 35# plus water. 

Fortune smiled on me and I made it with 8 minutes to spare without any sense of hurry. The night’s takeaways were:

  • I’ve been helped by doing “LSD” (long, slow distance). I managed to stay well under 65% of my theoretical max heart rate.
  • Since I do my training hikes in extra-heavy boots and/or ankle weights, in my light boots I felt like my feet had wings.
  • Ditto for logs, sleds, and kettlebells. I’d almost forgotten what it’s like to carry just a pack, without also holding a stone or a sandbag. This was like a vacation, at least for a few miles…
  • However, my feet were the limiting factor. After just 7 miles, my toes were feeling squished and uncomfortable.
  • After that, my second biggest limiting factor was my legs. They felt a little rubbery by Mile 9.
  • I used a minimalist hip belt (just a 1” canvas strip) and an ill-fitting sternum strap, but I wouldn’t try to forego those features. When one part of my back tires out, I appreciate being able to tweak the straps and belt and shift the load to fresh muscles.

I didn’t use The German Caffeine Chocolate on this outing—I’m saving it for game day, when my teammates and I need a special boost—but I did eat dates and they were almost as good.

Save this stuff for really extraordinary circumstances, like invading Russia without any winter clothes.

2 thoughts on “Time Trial

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  1. If your toes feel squished, could be that your boots are a little too small or your socks a little too thick. I recommend reading about the Munson last, which was designed allow your toes to spread and feet to swell under weight. Apparently, one might even go up 1/2 a size on a march. Remember, when buying boots or shoes, you need *at least* 1cm toe allowance, and sometimes even up to 1.5cm.

    Re: rubbery legs, sounds like you needed more salt?

    1. When I took a knee and ended up needing both hands to help my wobbly legs, I actually muttered out loud “Dainius…”! (That was short for, “He’s going to laugh at me because this is the second time I neglected his advice about salting my water because I was in ‘too much of a hurry’.”) Wuh wuh! And the search is on for “game day” boots, i.e. something lighter than my everyday BW stompers (1.1 kg each!) with a big enough toe box. I could feel my feet slowly ballooning like a loaf of bread.

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