Tuesday, December 30, 2008

I'm Positive, It's a Koala

I'm a big believer in the power of positive thinking. That's probably because I have to make a pointed effort to think postively, as a game plan, or I can sometimes really drift into the negative. When something starts to hurt - and in running isn't that pretty much inevitabe? - it just compounds it to focus on whatever is ailing.

I think back to my first marathon, where my mantra was the saying, "Your mind can only hold one thought at a time, so make it a positive and constructive one." I held onto that thought with everything I had, and stayed postive every single step. And when I crossed the line, I crossed into a new me. A me that finally believed in me; a me that could only be given to me by myself. So yeah, being positive is a good and useful thing.

So bringing me to today, I did a pack run and I needed to find a way to be positive about the pack. Thinking of it as a holder for my snowshoes and survival gear wasn't going to cut it. I didn't want to get 20k into Rock and Ice and be thinking I want to toss the thing. (That would be very negative.) So I decided while running today that the perfect thing is to think of my pack as a cute koala bear holding onto me. My whole run I smiled whenever I thought of my little koala, and it must have worked because I felt really strong and didn't mind the weight on my back. So, if I start to hallucinate a little in Yellowknife and request some eucalyptus leaves, it'll all make sense.


Geoff said...

not sure how much training you've been doing with a pack so far but my experience with running with more than 5 pounds on my back is that it seems horrible at first, but after doing it for several weeks i don't really even notice it's back there anymore. how much total weight will you be carrying? my experience has been that up to about 15-17 pounds it's best on my back, but anything over that and over the long haul it's better off in a sled.

Sara Montgomery said...

Hi Geoff - I'm aiming to keep my pack under 15 lbs for the race (i.e. as much under as I can; 12 would be very nice), but get up higher for training just to make 12 seems pretty light.

Do you notice the weight gives some grief to your knees and IT band as they adjust?

I've never tried a sled myself. How do you find it compares to a pack in general?

Geoff said...

well, i could write a book on these questions... but then again it would be a very boring book.

i actually never thought of it much at the time but last winter as i began training with a pack for the first time since the previous winter i did have a little IT band inflamation. at the time i just thought it was the increased mileage but it could have been due to the pack also.

i think generally i handle a pack much better than most, and better than a sled. many runners i know seem to be able to strap any old sled to their waist and off they go content as could be. for me it has taken two years of tweaking every little thing on my sled to get it so that it doesn't annoy the hell out of me. i've finally got it dialed in now so that i feel like it's most definitely the way to go with a load over 20 pounds. around 12 pounds though and you'll be fine with a pack once your body gets used to it.

if you ever do decide to take up the sled dragging i'd be happy to answer any questions you have about it... although i'm sure derrick has most of the answers to the questions you'd have.

Derrick said...

Hey Geoff,

Not to hijack Sara's post, but I am kind of interested in your thoughts on pulk design. I have basically rigged up a kids sled with rope running through some cut off ski poles. It has worked fairly well, but am considering if it may be better to go with one piece of PVC pipe secured at the sled and my waist to prevent lateral movement or flipping.

What sort of pulk have you used in the past?

Also, we do some dogsledding, so I was also considering installing dogsled runners on the bottom of the sled. Would you see much of an advantage to that?

Seemed like Greg McHale had a pretty compact pulk at Rock and Ice last year and I've been trying to find more info on something that runs a little smoother than what I've come up with so far.

Thanks very much for any input.

Congrats at TNF...and good luck at HURT and Iditarod (by the way, I had to laugh when you said a race in Hawaii was good training for an Alaskan Race).


Derrick said...


Thanks for replying to my questions on my blog.

Back to Sara's post...I had some nasty IT band issues during our honeymoon fastpack, while running with a heavy pack. Resulted in having to cut it short.

I've since found that single leg squats and glute strengthening stuff has helped with this. May not be as much of an issue with you though due to all your biking.

Geoff said...

i had some severe IT band issues in 2006 and early 2007 but have since had only very minor troubles with it. whenever i have had issues i've always linked it to sudden increase in mileage, especially long slow runs which i tend to do a lot more of in the winter time. these are also the runs in which i tend to carry a pack so it very well may be related more to the pack than the mileage.