First peanut butter ruck
In the month of June there was a new rucking challenge which entailed peanut butter. The idea was to ruck a specific distance and donate a quantity of peanut butter to those in need like a charity.
Sadly those options really don't exist in Munich, thus I thought of the next best thing and came up with the idea of only eating peanut butter during an endurance ruck.
I set out with the rules that the only foreign source of food is peanut butter. And foreign source in the sense what you can take along. I did allow myself to live off the land, so if I would berries and leaves on the way, I could snack on them.
The planned route
Since I had an appointment later in the evening in Heidelberg and had nothing really important to do the whole day of Saturday, I thought to myself why not ruck to Heidelberg.
Now with that crazy plan the next question is from where and how far? I knew I could easily do 50km and I was also coming from Munich, thus the only two real viable options were Heilbronn or Mannheim.
I didn’t choose the latter mainly because the distance was too small and I prefer to walk in nature over city. Plus I wanted to make sure that at least one forest was on the way to give me the potential option of setting up shelter and napping.
I chose Heilbronn as my starting point which made the minimum distance 60km. Totally doable in the 20h I set aside for myself. Did though estimate that I would be done within 15h.
I did take my standard gear with two little alterations. First only food I had along was peanut butter, a whooping 1kg. And since the poor experience of the Normandy ruck, I directly added electrolytes to my bladder in the form of baking soda. Alternatively you could use table salt instead and if you want a neutral drink ideally is to combine the two. Because table salt makes your stomach acid more acidic and baking soda does the opposite.
Starting point: Heilbronn
I got to Heilbronn at midnight. It was a fairly mild night. It took me some time to get my focus into gear. Since I didn't do it in the train ride. Meant as soon as I was a bit away from the station, I tightened up my boots and took off my shirt in honor to my Instagram handle @bare_rucker (2019).
I enjoyed the ruck through Heilbronn very much. Was in good state of mind and was still entertained of the crazy idea. Had no ear buds in, so was able to take in the full experience of the night life.
On the way, I came to the conclusion that I could use this time to come up rucking mantras:
No better day to ruck than Friday - Franjo Lukezic
No better time to ruck than at night - Franjo Lukezic
Taxi cab fields
Once I got to the rim of the city I had to make the decision of either following the drawn out route or alter it in consideration of my personal safety. Since it was Friday night and route followed along the main road there is a higher chance of being hit by a car because of possible alcohol intoxication levels. Though taking the fields option meant I would have to deal with the lovely taxi cab distance. All the fields were squared away and there was no more ideal route than the main road.
Stuck with this dilemma, I chose my health over the potential risk of being hit by a car.
I knew it was going to be a long haul through the moon full night and first then put on the ear phones. The good thing about the new device I bought is that their battery life is only 3h long and charging duration of an hour. Thus you won't be too heavily overwhelmed by the information overload from the podcasts.
Next section: Lesson about getting recommendations on specific podcasts
I listened to this new podcast show that was recommended by Knowledge for Men from doing an interview with them. I really enjoyed that show. But when I checked out his own show I didn't like it at all.
It was overflooded with commercials and the talking segments were so short that I could without the information.
I did give the benefit of the doubt that it was maybe only that one episode. But once listened into the second one, it was exactly the same format. And there and then I deleted all the other episodes I deleted from the podcast.
I can understand why he does it that way, basically to finance his podcast and I do think it is part of a radio show so that he doesn't really have any other option. But it would be much nicer to take out the commercials in the center. Either put them at the and/or also at the end.
While on the topic of poor podcasts or ones that don't agree with me, another one that has hit that category is Jocko podcast. I think I might have to do it similarly as I did with Mind Pump and be more specific in which show I should download.
I did though give Jocko's podcast a longer lever since it has been recommended by some good friends. I don't like his format either of going through books and commenting on the good's and bad's. Though have come across a podcast that really aligned with me. Just means I have to be a bit more picky ;)
Back to rucking
The Autobahn and construction
I eventually got to the drawn out route. The next section will be along the Autobahn (similar to a highway or freeway).
The path at the beginning was good but through time and distance it just vanished. I for some reason felt like the map was outdated but I just downloaded it yesterday. So it was more a guessing game and a gut feeling than anything else. Additionally it was one big construction project. Thus there really wasn't a barricade between the road and the tractor path I was on.
I thought it was bad enough that the route went along the main road and the potential risk of being hit by a drunk driver. But being hit by a car on the freeway is exponentially more dangerous for my well being. Just because there is no legal speed in Germany (2019) on how fast your are allowed to drive. Meaning if you want to try to go 300kmh with your new Lamborghini, the German Autobahn would allow it.
Now thinking on the fact that it was a construction zone, those are regulated usually down to 80kmh which in hindsight is better than the main road at 100kmh. But still...
Like I said above the tractor gravel path would just vanish. That it would become overgrown with weeds I can accept since I had that earlier with the taxi cab fields, but just stop at once, now that's not an option.
So I had my fun in navigating my way to a maybe path on the other side. It did help that the freeway was to the right of me and up on a slope. The app/map I was using said that in the left is a stream, means that I would need to find a crossing to get to the other side.
Do remember it was night time on an overgrown quasi path. Turning back was not an option. Thus I had to face whatever nature threw at me!
What did I get except confusion? Well lovely thorns! I got to figure out how to get through it. At that moment I was glad to have boots but sad if being barely. Sadly I was in too deep to put any additional equipment. And then I remembered embrace the suck!
Back onto a trail but with all this construction I just didn't want to go through the same I just went through. Thus I decided to try out my luck with a path further away from the highway since the white noise was fairly loud. Around this time is also when my earbuds died.
In the middle of Germany, in the moon lit night sky, I decided it might be a good time to rest.
I put on my jacket, used my ruck as a pillow, and laid there on the pavement looking at the night sky. It was almost perfect and peaceful, except for the white noise of the rushing cars. With this perfection of sense of being, I just dozed off.
Questioning my sanity
Once back to consciousness, I started questioning my sanity and livelihood.
First I went to the negative side, if I wouldn’t show up, no one would know where I was. I did tell my best friend that I was going on this journey, but we never talked about the contingency plan. Like how many hours after starting should I give notion of life. And if no response, what should he do next?
Do think the best plan is the same as advised by the police. If no notion of life after 48h, then get involved.
Then I went to the positive. I thought to myself I could just be here and enjoy life as is. No worry of tomorrow. No concerns at all. Just here and now. It was perfect.
And finally I was questioning my sanity. Why in the world am I doing this? Who am I trying to prove myself to? Constantly looking at the map for an easy way out, an easy way to get back to society.
With this worry came pain. At once I noticed aches and pains that weren’t there before. I did know of come and go pains/aches but this was different. It only hurt when I was actually moving.
Looked a second time on the map and decided first I want to get as far as possible away from this white noise generated by the automobile industry. And secondly I will check then how I feel like.
As said also done. I chose a route that went directly to the next forest.
On the way I was still trying figure out a shortcut on how to get to my destination the fastest. Doing quick calculations on the map and seeing the distance that is needed to that location. Then pondering what will I do then? Since I don’t want to be an annoyance to the people at the location of the appointment in Heidelberg.
Seeing that all alternative options were no better than what I have chosen. I continued further to the forest.
In the forest I had to turn on my headlamp and to my luck I found a bench.
In my lack of motivation to continue rucking, I might as well take another nap and deal with it later.
Same setup as by the last nap but this time I was a bit better protected from the elements. The surface was warmer since it was wood. Got shielded off from the one side by the back of the bench. And since I was in the forest it was automatically warmer plus the breeze wasn’t that strong.
I would doze off until I would get cold, then awake. Change up the position from lying on my back to lying on my side and back into slumber.
After snoozing for a good hour, I was cold enough to get myself up and moving again.
I followed the path further. It was still dark. But slowly and surely one could see some light.
To my luck I found a hut. It was more like a gazebo but with one side boarded up. There were wooden benches and tables inside.
If only I hadn’t have rested on the bench and continued to here, I could have easily gotten better sleep.
Well since I am here anyways why not try it out. I just got myself warm enough to attempt to fall asleep again. Though this time around I took out my T-shirt and used it to cover the bare parts of my legs.
Falling asleep or even just napping wasn't working for me. Got up and continued the ruck. Exactly at that time I startled a male deer who went barking his merry way home.
Just around the corner and out I was of the woods. Still the path followed along the tree line and that is when it happened, the sunrise.
It was so spectacular! The redness and hugeness of the sun. A big red firey ball of beauty. Never seen the sun so big before. It was the size of a tennis ball at arms length. Just pure awe!
As the path continued, I made the decision to go off trail and navigate with the map and GPS to get myself onto a close by trail. Basically I wanted to take a shortcut on a none existent path.
At the point of entry into the woods onto the off trail, I noticed there are still plenty of paths that aren't drawn onto the map. That is one big difference between here and back at home. At home you would have the exact opposite. The path is there but you need to find it.
While off-terraining there were these large stone property markers with different dates on them. The oldest one I saw was all the way back from year 1650. Just think about what that stone slab got to experience... all those wars in Germany.
As expected the trail I was following became quickly overgrown to the point that I was battling my way through hip high nettles and black berry bushes. This did drop my pace but at that moment I just wanted to get back onto the path.
Navigating through the woods, figuring out the simplest path with the least obstacles was the challenge now. I didn't want to deal with nettles nor thorns nor low hanging branches. Mainly because I didn't want to get a tick and to my surprise I only had one.
Once on the path, I got to see a fox from afar. The path was part of knowledge path. Every once I awhile there would be a station that would explain the forest. Either it would explain the trees or the animals.
Just out of the forest is when I decided it might be a good time to have breakfast. Found a nice comfortable spot and took out the peanut butter plus also a water bottle to make a flavored electrolytes drink.
While feasting, I got to experience the sun rise over the forest. It wasn't such an spectacle as before but it still made a good picture ;)
Out of the forest meant lots of fields and that's what I got. With that were also rolling hills.
I just finished up breakfast and was already on my decent. The noise from the highway was finally gone. One wasn't even able to see where one came from. As if one was in a whole new world.
At the bottom of the hill, had to cross the road and then continue the fun back up hill. By now nothing really surprised me. Have seen all the various paths. Have done all the crazies: off and on trail. Though the only I was still pondering how come I haven't come across any strawberries or cherries.
With that thought in mind and at the top of the final hill is where I met the best treat of the trip: cherry trees!
The first tree was over ripped and one had the potential of getting some extra protein. The second tree still need a couple of days. But the third one was perfect. Luckily I had cargo shorts and could put some cherries into the external pockets.
Once the pockets were full is when continued further.
What do you mean final hill?
As mentioned earlier in the journey, I was experiencing pain. To be more precise it was in my ankles and calves. Since I took a good two week break since the last endurance ruck and only recently got my gear back, I wasn't used to the boots. I have known of this strain before hand and do know that I have a long way to go till max potential.
Thus I decided just before entering the forest that I will end today's endurance ruck in Ittlingen. It still have me a good 30km of distance and next time I just need to beat this distance.
As sad as the last section sounded like, you have realize:
Fight as hard as you can so that you can fight tomorrow again! - Flex
It is all about the journey. If you go too hard to quick, you have the potential of needing more time to reach your goal. Because if you injure yourself, that recovery period prolongs your time till your goal.
At the top of hill on my way back down to town, I saw a castle in the distant. Also I saw as the sprinklers just turned and thought to myself: shower time!
AAR (After Action Report)
The whole journey took 7.5h where a good 2h were spent napping.
I only did 50% of the planned distance but I did overcome some new challenges:
- only peanut butter: I think I might prefer it over the Huel. It is also less weight.
- electrolyte water the whole time: It takes some time to get used to the flavor but you will never get that cool satisfying feeling that you get from water. Also I didn’t feel any lack of energy like in Normandy.
- new environment: Usually I ruck in Oberbayern and this time I was in Baden-Württemberg plus further away from home.
For additional data, checkout Strava.
For more images and a shorter report, checkout Instagram.