I kneeled and put the harness over my shoulders. This was mile 99 and it was hot. I hoisted the wheeled cart loaded with cement blocks that placed 225 lbs. on my shoulders and started walking up the driveway.
How did my wife refer to me? Exceptional? no… Extraordinary? no… Eccentric? yes, that was it.
Without telling anyone my plan, I’d started walking a cart loaded with bricks in a one mile loop around the neighborhood and was now down to the last couple walks.
The goal was to walk 100 miles carrying 100 lbs., one mile at a time.
I tried to walk while my wife worked hoping to go unnoticed but it’s difficult to not draw attention when hauling around bricks on a cart. By now I’d met every neighbor. Some asked what I was training for, one asked if I was having a religious experience and one thought I was stealing bricks from work.
The cart became known as “The Brickshaw” and after every walk I would take out a magic marker and make another hash mark on the side.
10 years prior my orthopedist said I had to give up running because of the pain it caused in my back. For the next ten years I tried various training methods to return to running. I ran stairwells for 3 years several times a week. I sprinted up and down steep hills. I trained deadlifts and squats. I trained abs and core. Still, if I was to climb on a chair and jump down, the landing would jar my back and it would take 6 six weeks before the pain let up.
I thought if I could carry heavy loads over a period of time, maybe my back and core would strengthen enough to take the impact of running. Also, as you age you lose bone density but carrying heavy weights increases bone density.
So I started my first walk with 60 lbs in a backpack and another 40 lbs hanging in front of me and discovered a few things.
It’s hard to put on a 60lb backpack, the weights clank and bang into your back so you need a to pad them. Hanging 40lbs on a rope around your neck is also uncomfortable. If you need to rest, it’s really tough to unload. There was a fence post along my route that I could rest the backpack on. It was difficult to add more weight.
The good news, it turned out to be a great workout. My core would feel as if it were vibrating for several hours following the walk.
There had to be something better than a backpack for walking with weight and after a few prototypes I came up with the Brickshaw.
The best result from the walk is that I found I could run again. I set out to do 100 runs of least 5k length or greater and have completed as of December 2014 189 runs with a total distance of 600+ miles with 500 miles of that run in barefoot shoes, 4 Savage Races, 1 Tough Mudder — and no back pain!
If you don’t mind too much about looking strange, you’re welcome to borrow the Brickshaw or make your own.
Buffalo Tip: If you can do it 100 times, you own it.
American Ninja Warrior Side Note:
For my 2013 ANW video application I carted out the Brickshaw and told the story of how The Great Buffalo came to me in a dream and told me to take a 100 Mile Spirit Walk. I told TGB that didn’t sound so hard. TGB snorted and then said there was a catch.
The video earned me an invitation to ANW.