“Legs of steel, abs of jello” is how I refer to myself when anyone asks what kind of physical condition I’m in. It makes a certain amount of smart-alecky sense. As a former marathoner and current trail/distance runner who shuns pretty much any kind of cross-training, that’s a pretty accurate description of my general fitness state. I joke about it because, as a non-competitive runner, I can.
But I found out recently that my silly little throwaway line (and all it entails) is a problem for “aspiring backpacker” me. I took my new Kestrel 28, put a meager eleven pounds in it, and tossed it on my back for an excursion around the house while I did a few chores. It fit great, and felt great. At first, anyway. After a couple of trips upstairs and twenty minutes of bouncing around the smooth, groomed trails of the living room and kitchen, I came to realize how weak my upper body really is. Backpacking requires more of a full-body tone. And I don’t currently have it. Even more intimidating was the fact that, including the pack, I was schlepping around less than fourteen pounds. I’ve estimated my proposed pack-out weight for overnight-plus excursions will be in the neighborhood of thirty pounds. And here I was, struggling to comfortably carry less than half of that for twenty minutes.
So it’s time to bring a little stiffness to the jello, and everything else north of my hips. That means one of two things: Core training, to include fun stuff like planks, dumbbell lifts and crunches. Or option two, just pack up the Osprey, strap it on and hike locally until the throbbing aches and pains go away and my runner’s body morphs into that of a low-grade pack mule.
I’m leaning heavily towards option number two…