Ten Pounds Matters

I’ve been walking for an hour at lunch to get prepared for our Skyline to the Sea trek (32 miles in three days). The Los Gatos Creek Trail goes behind our office, a mostly flat asphalt path along the creek. After a couple of weeks, I was walking more than three and a half miles in that hour. Last week, I started walking with a 22 pound pack and found that I was walking nearly as far as before.

Yesterday, I increased the weight to 32 pounds and I could feel my stride shorten and my pace slow. Just a little, but enough to cut my distance down to three miles, about a 20% drop. I was also taking more care with where I put my feet, working on a straight rock forward on the left foot (tore up that ankle in high school, trying to catch 400 pounds of plywood).

I noticed that I was tensing my shoulders, hunching them up, so I practiced keeping them down and loose. Hunching up your shoulders seems to be bad form in every sport or activity I’ve tried. I first figured that out in fencing, but it holds for rifle, cycling, canoeing, and, apparently, backpacking.

I’ll stick with the 32 pound pack for workouts, but I think I’ll shoot for 20-25 for the trek. The difference between 22 and 32 seems a lot bigger than between 12 and 22. I begin to understand how the ultralight backpacking folk can walk 25 miles in a day with a 15 pound pack.

This all makes me wonder how fast I could walk if I dropped 32 pounds of fat.

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