Why Wellness Matters

Fitness is big business, am I right? Everyone wants to be fit. Fitness, fitness, fitness. Well I am not too worried about fitness because for a long time now I have been prioritising wellness. Wellness, as defined by the sense of being healthy and well, feeling good and positive, of being fit for a purpose in life, able to carry a burden and so forth. Here are five reasons why.

1. Fitness is unattainable.

When pursuing fitness, when does one stop? Running a half marathon? A marathon? Lifting twice your body weight and the putting it back down again? A triathlon? An Ironman race?

The answer is none of the above, because fitness is relative. To get fit is to be fitter than you used to be. This all sounds very nice but at some point you will reach the terminus of fitness where it clashes with the rest of your life. Then what? You have not yet attained fitness, but now must make a decision, whether or not to chase fitness to your own detriment.

2. Wellness is aligned with purpose.

Wellness is not a pursuit. It is an end in itself. You are either well or not. There are no increments of wellness. Wellness is a target that is not only attainable, but once one achieves it one gains rest from the pursuit and other things can be done.

When I feel well I know what I did to achieve that, and I am able to maintain it. It is the point where I can swim, cycle or run or whatever for the joy of it, and that is a great place to be.

1. One cannot overdo or overindulge in wellness.

We have all heard it: ‘no pain, no gain.’

This phrase is so toxic. We all know what it means right? No, because that attitude causes injury, causes people to continue to train whilst carrying an injury and it promotes the notion that fitness must be paid for with misery and agony. Wellness is not like that. You will not exercise through pain when you wish to be well because you know that a rest is needed. Additionally, because you are not chasing the moving target of fitness you do not beat yourself up when you take time to rest. There is no problem because you know that what you are doing will make you well.

4. Wellness is generative.

I have radically raised my immunity by targeting wellness. Once my perspective shifted towards this as a priority I realised that running, cycling or otherwise training myself half to death is not what I need. So I have been taking vitamin D3 for a long time now. Whilst I occasionally pick up a bug as we all do, now I have noticed that I no longer get it every couple of months. By prioritising being well I have managed my body and it has been a radical shift in my health. Fitness does not cure sickness, wellness does. By working towards wellness I have generated better health, better immunity and a better lifestyle.

5. Wellness is liberty and freedom

It may well be a cliche, but when you have your health you have everything. Wellness allows you to live on your feet rather than die on your knees. Whilst none of us knows how or when the end will arrive, we can do everything in our power to avoid slowly dying of preventable metabolic disease, cancer or similar. I do not want to spend the last decades of my life falling apart. I may be unlucky, who knows, but I can make wellness my lifestyle choice and give myself every chance of a healthy and prosperous second half of my life innings.

Yorkshire Three Peaks: Conquered!

After thirty years I finally hiked the Yorkshire Three Peaks again. Last time I did it I was twelve years old. I can remember being pretty worn out back then, and this time I am sunburnt and currently on crutches due to me getting absolutely dreadfully painful, unwalkable blisters as a result. That aside, I feel so great. I also recorded a vlog that I intend to edit and upload to YouTube very shortly.

My friend John and I did the classic route, Pen Y Ghent > Whernside > Ingleborough, only this time the regular Ingleborough ascent was closed. We were diverted and had to complete the most horrendous climb and scramble that I have ever done. I will never forget that for as long as I live (see mile 19 in the Strava data below). Quite where we both summoned up the determination, patience and sheer bull-headed stubbornness to not be beaten by it is beyond me, but we did it nonetheless. Despite the extra distance and my hobbling the final five miles on my poor, blistered feet, we beat the twelve hour time target quite comfortably, and fortunately my Garmin Vivoactive HR watch had just enough battery to record the whole thing.

Data from Strava

Map

Summary

Pace, Heart Rate and Cadence

Splits

Mile Times

A Couple of Lovely Photographs

I guess I need a new challenge!

Pushing for Endurance

Is it possible – or indeed advisable – to run hard in the morning and then hike a mountain in the afternoon? Well, it is definitely possible because I did it today. Whether or not it is a good idea remains to be seen, but I do know that it stretches endurance limits and it definitely felt good to do it.

Running

This morning I broke through the six mile barrier.

This felt pretty good and I was well worn out but not as much as previously. Presumably my body is adapting well to endurance sports. Every time I add a mile or half mile extra it is that last segment in which I find myself longing for the run to be over so mentally I seem to be strengthening also.

After a couple of hours rest I then dragged the kids over Pen Y Ghent in the Yorkshire Dales.

Hiking

This is the opener to the Yorkshire Three Peaks and it is also an absolute sod of a climb, very steep, and you gain altitude very quickly over short distances. There is also a ton of scrambling to do through the protruding limestone which takes a lot of patience, effort and strength.

I have said it before: if you want to work your whole body and get strong quickly then fell and mountain hiking cannot be beaten, particularly if you wish to build stamina too. There is not a single muscle in my body that is not aching and glowing from usage. The beauty of it is that when you climb like this, or scramble, or similar then you not only use your whole body, you also move and rotate your body, joints and muscles on all three axes. I really cannot think of another sport like it. The first few times you do it you will be exhausted because there is nowhere for your muscles to hide from effort. What is remarkable is how quickly the exhaustion recedes and you get used to the exertion. Eventually energy levels slowly improve, as does stamina, and suddenly you realise that you want to do all three of the Peaks in twelve hours, which is the Yorkshire Three Peaks challenge.

Keep pushing, and keep improving.

Lockdown Progress is Still Progress

Last week I pushed up to five miles running, did plenty of (slow) cycling with the kids on the tourer and on Saturday I did a red hot, scorching hike over Whernside.

Yesterday I cycled in the evening with my boy and I have been amazed to see how quickly he is becoming powerful, fast and strong. He will be better than me hopefully! Captured the gorgeous sunset too. Check out the glitter path below.

I also fond a lovely outdoor location to explore, Rivington Pike near Bolton.

I remain on a 16/8 fasting diet which is working hard for me right now. I have literally stopped all refined sugar intake and I recently discovered that barley has a glycemic index of 25 – ridiculously low – so I am using that as a base for my cooking. That along with quinoa and a few other whole grains like buckwheat. I am already, in two weeks, 3.5 pounds lighter. The best part of this is that I do not think I have ever felt so stuffed in my life! I have only ever counted calories once and it was a waste of time. This way I am tracking my weight with a weekly weigh in and just eating good food, and boy is it working. Plus, barley is 55p a bag so my bank balance likes it too.

In my 43 years on Earth I think I might have weighed myself four or five times so I am hardly obsessive, but now that the kids are old enough that I do not have to spend every single minute refereeing their skirmishes or just keeping them alive, I have time to focus on my health much more. This is bringing great results. Having spent over a decade doing whatever exercise I could and eating what I can as best as I could I now relish this second innings of living. Any parent knows that the first ten years of child rearing are nonstop sacrifice, impossible to plan or work around and you spend most of your time exhausted. Now I get to take them out with me and they can be exhausted!

I am very much enjoying trail running. I have never been a fast runner really so I have nothing to prove on that front, but I can endure quite a lot so right now I am focused on off road activities and working out the best planning for nutrition. It seems that fasting of some kind works brilliantly – I even climbed Whernside in a fasted state – and thinking more about food is working. I have been a vegan for years and years but to get the best from myself means that my enemy is sugar. I really cannot believe the magnitude of difference that it makes to my physique if I stop eating it completely. All of the reading I am doing says this, and it all advocates fasting regularly and also straining the body, meaning to push hard in terms of endurance.

I guess that this week the results will prove me right or wrong.

Elterwater, Skelwith Force and Colwith Force: Conquered. Bonus: Lambs Oot!

This was a stunningly beautiful hike today. It was surprisingly strenuous exercise at times considering there are no peaks, fells or mountains on the trail. The scenery was breathtaking in parts, particularly the views of the Langdale Pikes and the two waterfalls along the route. For anyone wanting to wear out young children whilst also having plenty of opportunities to paddle, skim stones or indulge themselves in plain water fights then this is what we Lancastrians would refer to as a bobby dazzler. There are two cool stretches of forest, Elterwater itself, the aforementioned waterfalls and a few pretty bridges that all make for picturesque scenery. Of course, the beauty of the landscape makes for plenty of photographs, so they are below, along with the data from Strava. Click here for the GPX file and/or map for WikiLoc.

Photography

Langdale Tarn
Langdale Tarn

Lambs Oot!
Lambs Oot!

Dried Out Tree
Dried Out Tree

Distant Langdale Pikes
Distant Langdale Pikes

Skelwith Force
Skelwith Force

Distant Langdale Pikes
Distant Langdale Pikes

Langdale Tarn
Langdale Tarn

Lingmoor Fell, Right

Park Farm, Panorama
Park Farm, Panorama

Distant Lingmoor Fell
Distant Lingmoor Fell

Elterwater
Elterwater

Distant Langdale Pikes
Distant Langdale Pikes

Distant Langdale Pikes
Distant Langdale Pikes

Distant Langdale Pikes
Distant Langdale Pikes

Strava Map

Elevation, Cadence, Pace and Heart Rate

Split Times

Beauty of Malham

Yesterday’s ‘hike to tire out the kids during lockdown’ features Malham, one of the most picturesque and beautiful parts of the Yorkshire Dales. Especially the cove and the limestone pavement above:

Malham Cove:

The cove always attracts the dreaded sunny day amateur walkers, with their kids all dressed in white (whose parents give you the death stare when your dog cheerfully trots up to them, says hello and gets mud on their whites, which is obviously going to happen in the Dales), portable barbecues and six packs of lager, and who are just generally loud and mildly irritating. Lockdown clearly caused this to be amplified somewhat. It is still well worth the trip though.

It was a slight disappointment in that the two waterfalls there, Gorsdale Scar and Janet’s Foss were running at a trickle, but hey, we had a mild winter and thus far a gorgeous spring. One must not grumble. Here is a previous shot of Janet’s Foss:

I did get a lovely shot of a heron, however:

I wonder if it is the same one that I saw here. They do look very similar…

Strava

The data from this hike is a complete map but incomplete metrics as I lost 1-1.5 miles by forgetting to unpause my watch recording after stopping. For some reason the auto pause is hit and miss at the moment so I have to do it manually.

Summary

Map

Pace, Elevation, Heart Rate and Cadence

Not that it matters too much to have completely recorded the hike or not, but it is probably the best other of six miles. The map is still complete, I am never going to set any speed records, especially with children in tow, and I take a very dim view of the sort of hiker who bounces over ten fells a day with the spandex and sticks, never once stopping to take a look around. If I climb hard enough to earn the view you can bet I am going to take the time to stare.