What I’m Reading: Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials by James Dashner
What I’m Listening To: Good Morning Revival by Good Charlotte
Over the last few months, I’ve been trying something new. For any of you that have hiked a bunch or spent time in the military, it probably will sound familiar. For the uninitiated – it’s called “rucking” and at its most basic level involves walking various distances with weight in a pack on your back.
Before you start asking, “why would I do a thing like that” or even more likely declare “you so crazy!” let me explain. Many times rucking gets billed as a way to get in shape efficiently without having to run.
It’s not that I hate running – it has its own place in my repertoire of fitness activities – it’s just that rucking has taught me much more about myself and pushing the bounds of arbitrary limits set by yours truly.
For a quick tutorial: https://fitatmidlife.com/what-is-rucking/
When I first started out (what now seems like forever ago), I didn’t want to spend much money on this new hobby in case it petered out. I bought a cheap bag with thick padded shoulders on an online megastore and loaded it with four bricks wrapped in duct tape. I hit some local trails near home with the setup, covered a fair starting distance and my shoulders and lower back rebelled. I think I discovered sweat dripping from pores I didn’t even know existed. Like most things new – it wasn’t going to be easy to master.
Specially-designed “rucking” plates keep the weight as high as possible and close to your back – really nice to have at longer distances.
Once I was acclimated to four and five mile forays, I eventually worked up to longer distances, added a hydration bladder (think “Camelbak” for staying hydrated – no brand endorsements here) and started to seriously look at what was on my feet.
Ground conditions, traction and ankle support command more of your brain power than you ever thought was necessary. As you extend the distance or intentionally add more weight to challenge yourself, you start to think twice about every big and little thing stuffed into your bag (Did I really need that?) – but determine there are certain non-negotiables, “Thank goodness for that protein bar!!!”
Once you accumulate experience performing the new “normal,” you subconsciously tick off that mental checklist of what your need each time you venture forth – because the cost of forgetting something while you’re out there can be costly. Not life or death mind you – but aches and pains and swears muttered under one’s breath (oh so many swears…). Now that I’ve been doing this for a while, I decided that it was worth the investment of better equipment (a myriad of items were purchased and recognized for the value-add they brought to the experience) and the dividends have been plentiful.
The old adage, “You get what you pay for!” has held true for gear upgrades.
You get to see some gorgeous views that aren’t accessible by car.
Now I’m starting to experiment with other ways to scale the workout experience. You can carry extra weight, find friends (hopefully they stay your friends) to ruck with, carry other things in your hands, perform different exercises (try a push-up with weight sometime!) and generally just trying to have fun with it.
So, here’s the important part:
-Okay, Clay, you’re clearly a glutton for punishment – what’s in it for me?
In local government, we set limits all the time on what we believe will be acceptable or will work for our communities. By doing this, we close doors on what we (in our experience) have determined won’t sell to our policymakers or constituents since we’ve deemed the alternatives to be “too risky” or “it may work for that community, but not a good fit for us.”
These limits can be healthy or necessary evils, but can also hamper any efforts you may pursue towards innovation in your communities.
An unavoidable component of innovation is that we all need a precipitous nudge or push – how else are you supposed to get from where you are now (comfortable, but deep down knowing it’s not where I want to stay) to where you want to be if you’re truly being honest (awesome-ville) and undergo the growing pains that the journey requires.
Local government sweat equity is where it’s at – we all want to achieve the destination that innovation and reinvention brings the communities we serve – but we need to put in that hard work (rucking some miles) and investment (buy some good gear and find good company) to get there. Subtle, right?