***NOTE FROM ENO: This is part 3 of a 5-part series about how to stay active in the outdoors through flatland training – essentially, training for the mountains without actually being in the mountains.***
by Justin Fricke, aka JustinTheWeekendWarrior
When you’re in the mountains, you’re typically going to have something on your back. Whether it’s a boulder pad, a pack full of gear, or your kid, something’s going to be adding weight to your back. So my third suggestion for flatland training would be to start training with some weight on your back.
You could buy a lead vest, but that disperses the weight evenly across your upper body. You won’t get the full effect of having to stand upright while having something on your back. It’s the perfect time for you to get your pack on your back and get re-accustomed to what it feels like.
I’d suggest using the same backpack you’ll be using when you’re training. I’d also suggest walking with you pack on, and to try and walk instead of run. When you walk, you’ll also be minimizing the impact on your joints and be able to prevent injuries as well.
When I was younger and playing organized sports, my coaches always told me to “practice how you play.” I think this holds true with this scenario as well because if you know what you’re going to be carrying on your back, you’ll be accustomed to it before you get to the mountains and shouldn’t have any preventable surprises. You can dial in your fit, pace, and just strap up and go when you get there.
So what should you put in your backpack while you’re training? If you put rock in there, you probably won’t have to load up so many (depending on the sizes) and you can probably get outside faster. However, something that can make or break your adventure is how you load your pack. When you load rocks in your pack, they’re going to sit at the bottom, which isn’t where you want all your weight. You want the bulk of your weight at the center of your pack. When you use rocks, you also don’t get the practice in packing your pack either. I’d suggest using all your gear that you’ll be bringing. This way you get to practice loading everything, and you can experiment with placement.
If you’re going to have a kid on your back, load ‘em up in your child carrier and get them outside. If your kid’s old enough to stand on their own, I’ve heard The Piggyback Back Rider is a fantastic option for carrying your kid on your back. I don’t have kids, so I don’t have a Piggyback Back Rider, nor have I been able to test it out. But like I said, I’ve read some good reviews and blogs about it.
Grab your pack (or your kid), get outside and start training for your adventure.