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If you could only use what you could fit in your back pack, for one week, what would you take, what would you leave behind?

I had to make that choice on the evening before I left into the desert in October in Chile.  I was running a seven day adventure race. We have many mandatory items and a few choices on food and clothing. The trick is to take everything you need, and be as light as possible. Carrying extra weight through the desert can make things difficult. In fact, it contributed to significantly wearing me down in my first two races.

As I was doing a fall cleaning this weekend, I was reminded how life follows you into the desert. I like to get as much use as possible out of things I buy, maybe I keep them a little too long. Keeping “extra” things in the desert  can clutter your chances of success. Holding on to the comforts of home, can short change getting back to nature and weigh you down.

When we hit weigh in the night before, my pack was still a couple pounds heavier than my goal weight.  I had the help of a veteran friend question each piece of gear and food I was bringing. I knew the success of my stretch goal was on the line if I couldn’t purge the comfort and safety items that have slowed me down in the past.

It ended up being part food, part extra clothing that got me there.  It made me a little nervous leaving these items behind. I could run short on food near end of race and be uncomfortable in the evening if it got really cold. It’s the delicate balance we prepare for as we head into the unknown.

What did I learn?

1.  Just like cleaning out the closets, releasing excess, can create the space you need for creativity and run more efficiently to your goal.

2.  Once I made the decision, whether it would be right or wrong, you lose the weight of indecision.  That reduced my mental weight I carried with me.

3.  After the first two days I had the framework to make further adjustments based on usage. I “donated” another pack of food to a tent mate and two electrolytes to another! I didn’t need them. As super veterans they appreciated I “carried” their fuel.

4. Using a buddy system to keep you honest in what you really need gives you the lens of objectivity you may not get on your own.

I see more purging opportunities coming in the new year!

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