I Like to Ride my Bicycle…

God damn it I have missed cycling so much. I got back on it on Saturday and today after a long (for me) time. I came in just above and just under an average of 12mph respectively. That is slow, however today especially I deliberately picked hills. The beauty of where I live is that there are serious hills in every direction. Fifteen to twenty degree climbs are not unusual. This will make for an interesting experiment in weight loss. I have maintained my weight whilst not being very active of late so I hope that upping my calorie burn and in particular doing absolute buggers of resistance rides will have a serious effect on that front. Even without my love of cycling, the hills are still cool because it does not matter how steep the incline, coasting downhill is the ultimate payoff for the hard work on the climb.

Saturday

Today

A Dumbass Went Over Ingleborough…

Today’s hike was over Ingleborough in the Yorkshire Dales and I managed to pause my Apple Watch and forget to restart when we stopped for lunch, so god knows what these figures and the map means. You can safely double the elevation gain, likely the calories too as I missed recording the hardest, most technical part of the mountain to climb, and I think I would probably add around two miles or so.

It was a grand day out nonetheless.

Incidentally, Apple Watch in its current iteration is a quantum leap ahead of the turd I bought in the form of the first generation model. Superb battery life and excellent functionality. I got home after recording this hike and the battery had depleted to 68%. My previous watch used to last three hours recording workouts. This is a huge improvement.

Blog of Ages

Good lord, it has been such a while since last I posted. This post will appear slightly late relative to the activities as I forgot to renew my domain name so I have to do that first, but hey, I am still here and hopefully somebody somewhere is vaguely interested in what I have to say on here.

I have been jolted back into blogging by the weather improving and the nights getting longer. Here in Lancashire we have very dark winters where the day essentially ends around four o’clock. This is particularly annoying for those with a family. The last week has seen sunny days and temperatures around ten degrees celsius which is definitely all the excuse I need to break out the hiking boots.

I ran twice this week. Conveniently my GP is about 0.6 miles away so if I jog there and back it’s a decent fifteen minutes or so of raised heart rate, which is fine just for a daily thing whilst I wait out the winter months. I am currently running using the latest Apple Watch and the auto pause does not always work properly indoors so the figures for mileage times and pace during the first run are wrong, but for what it is worth, here we are.

Wednesday 13th February

This was when I ran down there to get a blood test and the watch kept running whilst I was at the surgery.

Map

Friday 15th February

Slightly shorter run, but again Wednesday’s distance includes spurious data from the watch not pausing properly.

Map

Saturday Afternoon Hike

We hike every year, as often as possible, and we always commence with a hike around Malham Cove in the Yorkshire Dales. It is beautiful up there.

Map

If you are not too experienced a hiker or you need to get fit then this is not too challenging and the location is rewarding in terms of scenery and views looking out over Yorkshire, and the fantastic waterfall, Janet’s Foss.

Slowly, Slowly

Metatarsalgia is a bitch so I’ve been resting my foot and swimming last week, slowly getting back into a routine whilst being careful to avoid pushing myself to the point of injury. Two swims last week and a gentle jog this morning have left me feeling a whole lot better, particularly as I’ve slept well.

The data aren’t very interesting as these aren’t workouts that have pushed me into the stratosphere but at least I’m getting back on the move.

Stuck with Bad Luck

I’m not having much luck with exercise right now. I’m currently sitting, nursing pretty severe pain in my heel and praying to high heaven that I’ve merely banged it in my sleep. If not then I may have plantar fasciitis and that is a nightmare injury to recover from.

I have had mild flu like symptoms for a couple of days and that always comes with aches and pains in really weird places. Hopefully that is all and it will fade in a day or two. I’m so fed up of starting out again,only to get ill or pick up an injury. I feel like I have been on that demoralising treadmill forever.

So how does one stay positive during these trials? Well, I guess that for me I’ll simply have to be bull-headed and be ready to bounce back when the pain alleviates. I might be able to swim as pressure definitely worsens the pain but that’s about it. Even walking is difficult.

There is time and opportunity to be used though. I can start to plan dietary routines and also try to make use of my kettlebell in creative ways. I can also draw up new targets and schedule to hit them.

God this is frustrating.

Intervals: Splits and Bits

My first recorded run this week and I’ve started doing intervals again, albeit gently starting off. As you can see below I did a 1.5 mile run and then 0.25 miles divided into three sets of intervals, 30 second jogs followed by 10 second sprints. I walked the final mile home as a warm down. I have done interval running before, however I was never much of a sprinter even as a nipper, thus at the age of 41 you will not see me pulling up many trees here. As ever this is not about being the best, it is about being better than I was yesterday.

Limitations of a Garmin Watch

Since this was pretty much a brain fart this morning I don’t yet know if it is possible to programme and record interval workouts on my ancient Garmin Vivoactive watch. I am going to see if I can do so but if not I’ll just record it all in one session as I did here and then do a better job when I upgrade to Apple Watch 4 in the autumn.

I feel I could have gone further with the sprints but as always I start slowly and work up quickly. Better that than to hurt oneself pushing too hard too quickly – I know this from bitter experience.

Counting Steps is Pointless, Moving Constantly is the Future

Along with my loathing of the gym another bunch of fitness bores I roll my eyes at are the 10000 steps a day merchants, and largely for the same reasons – particularly the Fitbit Squadron. I can’t stand the gym not only because of the whole staring at the wall and picking things up and putting them down thing, but also because of the vanity of men trying to pick up girls there. Trust me guys – she’s breaking a sweat and working hard. She doesn’t want you to talk to her. The other thing about gym workouts is that they are often pointless because people often sit around all day, literally not moving, then flog themselves to death for 45 minutes before returning to a sedentary position. This is no good for staying well, and the 10000 steps a day mantra is the same.

I also typically don’t like self help books either but one of the best books I’ve read in a while is Dan Buettner’s Blue Zones, in which he visits the six places on Earth where people live longest, happiest and most free of chronic illness. These areas all have huge concentrations of centenarians, almost no cancers or diseases associated with chronic inflammation and no lingering chronic illness killing people. When people in the Blue Zones die they just have one bad day, and in the meantime they live lives of healthy productivity well into their eighties and nineties. The book uses hard data and observations and Buettner discovered several things they all have in common. They are all more or less vegans, drink tea, coffee and a little red wine, they gather as a community regularly, venerate elders, often have several generations in one house and so forth. One thing that stood out to me, however is that these people never stop moving. I should be clear that they aren’t trying to live long lives, rather their longevity is a byproduct of their lifestyles. So, for the same reason that I long since ceased calorie counting, I have never tried to hit an arbitrary number of steps. Instead of fostering the ‘I’ve moved 10000 steps and thus have earned this 500 calorie chocolate muffin’ attitude I have lived, for many years, a de-convenienced lifestyle.

Below is yesterday’s health data from my iPhone:

Not bad huh? This is a typical day in the summer for me. I had no idea that I had covered such a huge distance yesterday. I didn’t try to either. All I have done for the last five or six years is to live according to a set of principles that essentially force me to move constantly. So, for example, below is what yesterday entailed. I preface this by saying that I work from home so I’m lucky in that sense, and I can arrange my day around bursts of work.

  • Walk the school run
  • Go running straight from school
  • Come home, draw a bath
  • Hang out wet washing, start new load
  • Bathe
  • Prepare evening meal whilst dripping dry
  • Dress
  • Work for three hours, raising to either prepare food, hang out washing, prepare next load etc. Much of work is reading and I do as much as I can standing up
  • Walk 2 miles to shops, collect what I need
  • Another hour reading in the sun by the canal
  • Walk home and collect children
  • Whilst children change hang out more washing and prepare another load
  • Walk 3 miles to the park, play with children for an hour
  • Go home, eat
  • Collect washing
  • Put children to bed
  • Another burst of work
  • Walk the dog 3 miles
  • Bed

Obviously we all live our own lives but what you can see there is that I never stop moving and this raises my metabolism all day. Rather than being sluggish and sedentary for 12 hours with one burst of high intensity exercise, this way I ended up moving over 15 miles without even thinking about it. This is a better way. As long as you eat well you simply cannot gain weight living like this.

I also live according to a few simple rules that make a huge difference. This will read like luddism but there’s a reason that the Blue Zone communities are all relatively poor ones, or in the case of the Seventh Day Adventists, living lives of modest means deliberately.

  • The car is a deadly sin. Use it only when the journey cannot be made without it.
  • All journeys under 3 miles are walked
  • Any activity done whilst sitting can be done standing – getting a standing desk at work for example can be a remarkable change
  • Never automate that which you can do by hand

This list is not exhaustive but you get the idea. I also stress the need for common sense in the sense that this has to work with one’s lifestyle. Fit these things in so that it’s natural. Even simple things like taking the stairs rather than the lift make a huge difference to one’s heart rate and keeps the calorie burn ticking over in the background. Walking everywhere also frees up time for podcasts, audiobooks, quiet reflection etc, or if walking with family it frees up time for conversation.

Previously we would often drive to places to do things and view the car as a time saver, but then I realised that we rushed around like that for no reason. I literally thought that it was best to get out and in as soon as possible. Why? We would only sit around during the time saved. The constant drive to get somewhere more quickly is pointless. What will you do with the time saved? You can’t put it in the bank to use it later. When we stopped the lunacy of rushing around everywhere we found our days to be much more pleasant. No mindless rushing around like headless chickens, no stress from trying to park with energetic children bouncing around in the back. Just joyful nature and long, productive days of healthy activity.

I also live by the following dietary rules:

  • No animal ever
  • Default morning drink is green tea
  • Cook by hand, from scratch with fresh ingredients
  • Where possible buy local, as this makes you walk to the shops
  • Snack on food that looks like it does when it is in the ground, on the vine or branch etc.
  • Where possible grow your own food
  • Put turmeric in everything as it is a natural anti-inflammatory

In addition to this I would also argue that counting calories is a disaster. When I used to engage in this ridiculous practice of logging meals to the gram I would always eat right up to my limit, even if I wasn’t hungry a lot of the time.

I’ve discovered that living a life of convenience is a disaster. Spending 3 hours a week in a gym trying to run off 168 hours of sitting or lying around just doesn’t work. I’ve seen the future and it is one where I never sit still. Not only is it good for physical health, but also being productive and useful all day has a profound effect on mental health and wellbeing. Being outside is how humans thrive, and making our bodies work constantly generates a life of purpose and induces healthy sleep.

I remember as a kid I never tried to be thin, I simply was thin and I never thought about it. The main reason is that I never stopped moving and nothing was convenient. The things I do now are the things I did as a kid. The only difference is that I have to do real life as well, so I adapt.

Surviving and Thriving

I find myself yet again at the beginning. A combination of yet again getting ill and then another exhausting half term with my little poo flingers means I’m starting my regimen again. Time to push on and push hard.

This time rather than running a circular and arriving back at home I ran out 1.5 miles and then walked back. Not only the perfect warm down but also a way to keep the metabolism raised. Aside from that I love it because wherever you walk in my town you end up in the countryside within ten minutes or so. That’s just brilliant for one’s mental wellbeing.

This is why I prefer to be outside rather than simply at a gym. I hate gyms. Why pay to use a machine when nature, the best therapy, is free?

A horrible month survived. Time to thrive.

Blades of Fury in the Evening Sun

Today’s workout is different. School holidays means that I’m knee deep in kids all day so today I rollerbladed with them for an hour. I couldn’t track it, have no idea what the calorie burn is and I don’t know how high my heart rate went but bloody hell, what a workout.

I’ll sleep tonight…