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.

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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…

Assessing Numbers and a Great, Faithful and Loyal Friend Moves on to her New Home at the Rainbow Bridge

Because I wasn’t blogging at the time I didn’t get a chance to immortalise our little lurcher, Muffington (Muffin), on here when she passed on to the Rainbow Bridge.

We rescued her and she became the most faithful and sweet little lap dog I have ever known. She gave us twelve years of unconditional love and loyalty and lived her life sitting on my knee. That dog hiked all over the Yorkshire Dales and Cumbria with us and loved every minute of it.

Good speed into the void little Muffington. Enjoy your rest. You have certainly earned it.

Pulse Clues

A friend of mine who is a nurse tells me that one’s pulse and blood pressure are important because symptoms of serious illness so often manifest there first. She takes my pulse all the time (don’t ask) and confirms my resting heart rate at 54 bpm. This is apparently very good and the healthy norm for a 6’1 adult male of my height ought to be 60-80. This reading was taken during my recent hiatus with a pinched nerve so I am now on a mission to drive down my heart rate. The lowest I have ever recorded is 44 so I am aiming there first. I already eat a vegan diet designed to facilitate extremely good mental health – of that more anon – and this also keeps my blood pressure healthy. Where I can improve is exercise. I’m going to work hard to push my heart rate very high during runs and swims in particular to produce a positive effect on my resting pulse.

I’m also hoping to get some decent knowledge and understanding of logging this information and what to do with it over time.

Rebound and Pound the Ground

My pinched nerve has eased so I’m back in the road, pretty much from square one.

Slow, laborious, but ultimately productive. Despite not the day of small beginnings.

In other news I’m considering an upgrade from my Garmin Vivoactive watch to Apple Watch 4 when it arrives. I’ve heard good things about the battery life now so that and the water resistance makes it so much more attractive a prospect than the series 1 I previously owned.