§10 – Walking to Mordor

(Part 10 of 12 in Changes and Results)

Many moons ago I had frequent back problems. There were many things which provided me temporary relief, but this is not an article about temporary relief. This is an article about one of the things which actually fixed my back: Walking.

(Losing weight and fixing my feet are the other two things.)

I recall Ido Portal saying in a podcast with Daniel Vitalis, something to the effect of: Your spine is for orienting yourself in your environment. Your spine’s myriad of joints should be flexible and powerful. At that point in my journey, I wasn’t even really thinking of my spine as joints; It was simply something with an upper and lower portion, both of which were frequently in significant pain. That was the exact moment when I became convinced my spine was weak.

…and then I read _Walking Found to Provide Significant Relief from Back Pain. At the time, I was preparing for a parkour trip to Québec for an event they where having with the Yamakasi. So I was already focused on finding my weaknesses—my back!—and trying to fill them in.

…and then I read Walking, an article by Steve Kamb about walking to Mordor. Yes, that Mordor. It’s a challenge to walk 1,779 miles (but see below.) I took my exercise tracker out on a few of the common walks I like, and noted the mileage. I’ve been keeping track of the total ever since.

It’s 1,779 miles to get from Hobbiton to Mt. Doom. Then riding the eagles back to Minas Tirith cuts the return walk to Bag End down to 1625 miles. Plus 467 more miles, roundtrip to Grey Havens. Brings my total goal to 3,871 miles. This is roughly the entire length of the Nile river, or the distance from the surface to the center of the Earth. (Mid 2019 I’m a few hundred miles from Mt. Doom.)

There’s so much that can be said about walking. But rather than read more about walking, why not go for a walk?

ɕ

Flashback to August 2018

This post is from some quick notes I made in August 2018. I’m only just getting around to publishing it now, 8 months later, as part of this series. Today, at ~230 pounds, 215 seems like a dream.

I’m recently back from traveling to Denmark and France to attend two Parkour events back-to-back. As usual when I’m traveling, I don’t attempt to keep up my normal routines so there’s no data recorded for most of July 2018.

I’m happy to return still around 215 as I try to get back to my routine of “chaining together” my mornings. Compared to July, I’m not as active, but I’m trying to AVOID the, “let’s be super active and try the 100-days-of-activity challenge,” mistake I made in 2017 when I came home from the same events all excited about movement.

Anyway, what about that ratio of 1958? …it’s so low that it’s not even on the graph! This reminds me of two things I believe I’ve noticed:

  1. The ratio lags behind when I’m actively losing weight. My guess is that the different components (water, subcutaneous fat, visceral fat, and muscle) change at different rates. So when losing fat from calorie deficit, the peripheral/subcutaneous is liberated first—which aligns with my recollection that visceral fat is more tenacious.
  2. The best ratio is very hard to find—to actually see it in the measurements. I have to lose weight gradually, and then stay at the new weight for many weeks to see the ratio rebound to above 2000. (Reminder, the ratio is in wacky units of “tenths of pounds per millimeter midriff circumference” because of how I record the numbers. The numerical value of the ratio is of no concern; It’s only useful for trending.)

Status update July 2018

(Part 68 of 74 in My Journey)

I’m not quite ready to publish scantily-clad selfies… so I left my socks on. I’ve a target weight in mind which corresponds to 20-year-old-me and a good photo from 1991.

Meanwhile…

This is the least I have weighed in 20 years. About 55 pounds (25kg!) lighter than 2008.

A visiting Finn mowed my lawn for me yesterday, and so I had time for one last run on this continent before I leave for a triple-stop Parkour trip in about twelve hours.

The graph is a little odd because I didn’t stop the tracking immediately, so there’s a huge bar for the last split (not shown.) It’s a lollipop route, so the 11-minute split is up the slight hill which I ran down at ~9-minute pace. The whole run came in about 9:33, which is right on the fastest I’ve ever run this. This time was much more uniform in pace than the last time I ran this.

Why do I post this stuff? Because whomever you are, whereever you are in your physical fitness (or complete lack thereof), you can simply do what I did: Start where you are.

ɕ

Sneak peek

Sneak peek at something I’m writing up from a year-long experiment. This is a graph of weight and waist measurements (plotted on the left in non-obvious units), and the ratio of those numbers (plotted on the right, x1000; so “2000” is a 2:1 ratio in the weird units of course) The measurements jump all over the place, but when I measure every day, a polynomial curve fit shows what’s going on over this three month window. Much much more to write about this…

ɕ

Podcast, interview with Jerzy Gregorek

I just finished listening to Tim Ferris’ interview of Jerzy Gregorek.
https://tim.blog/2017/03/16/jerzy-gregorek/
(episode #228 from March of 2017)

It’s a very long podcast, but I really enjoyed getting to know Jerzey. Around 2h39m in, as they’re wrapping up, he says…

I see that the first 50 years is your first body, but also it is “nature versus nurture.” So you have the nature; you use the body, but you don’t care. The body is fantastic, it is restoring itself, it is recovering itself, and it is very, very forgiving. The next 50 years is the nurture. It’s time to be intelligent, it’s time to have goals, it’s time to have plans, it’s time for that. So if we start nurturing the body we can easily go for another 50 years, right? So that’s our second body. There is this gracefulness on the road that we need to learn. Once you get that gracefulness then your journey can be pleasant, your journey can be proressive and your journey can be joyful.

I’m not quite 50, but this really resonated with my recent [several years worth] work, efforts, journey and progess.

update Oct ’17:

Link to Jerzey’s “Happy Body” book which I’m really enjoying. He has a very direct and simple way of defining, measuring and working towards a happy body — meaning one that is basically fit — in the sense of fit for living. There are several companion books, (and a companion poster). I don’t feel the need to buy the books, yet ;) but the poster might be handy.

ɕ

Crossing the Williamsburg Bridge

(Part 1 of 12 in Williamsburg Bridge QM challenge)

Having carefully examined every inch of the pedestrian pathway on the Williamsburg Bridge, I can authoritatively state that it is in fact, VERY long. When I stood up after 2,000 meters of quadrapedie-movement, I could hardly believe it was over! Two kilometers turned out to be possible!

The entire bit of madness started after I mentioned to several people I might be heading into NYC/Brooklyn on a particular weekend in October. Unfortunately, my plans changed and I forgot to tell Jesse.

As the weekend approached, he sent me a message, “I’ve been thinking of some good physical challenges for when you’re here…” I was just thinking, “Oops, I forgot to tell him I’m not coming into the city that weekend.” When he followed with an upbeat, “Let’s QM across the Williamsburg Bridge on Saturday!”

Now in my defense, I was feeling a little guilty that he had spent time thinking about a visit that I had to abort, and my train of thought went off the rails like this:

The problem with my schedule is that I need to be home by about 3pm on Saturday…
…actually, that gives me until about 1pm to do some QM in the city on Saturday…
…so if I went in Friday, and if we started early enough…
…sure, a little QM in the morning would be fun…
…and October’s weather has been so beautiful…

“Ok, sure! I’m in. Let’s do it!”

…and then I looked up the Williamsburg Bridge on Wikipedia, learned it was 2,200 meters long, and thought, “I have made a terrible mistake.”

ɕ

Maximum effort

(Part 35 of 36 in 10,000 Reps Project)

This past week counts as MAXIMUM EFFORT.

This past week I rearranged my entire life around the workouts. M/W/F were each 5+ hours of just grueling slogging away at it. It was horrid. However, no accute injuries. My forearms seem to be holding up because of the assistance band, but also because I’m managing more/most of the pullups barehanded giving a better grip. (So less forearm pulling. With gloves, the grip slips on the fat bars and you get that hard pull at the elbow from using a different part of the grip muscles.)

The goal was 200 reps [of everything] on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday (today.) Instead I absolutely crushed it M/W/F, and today was an easy 70 reps of everything with some friends (after our usual short run and 45 minutes of QM.) Resting the remainder of today… by the pool in the A/C etc.

Here’s the numbers for this week. Next week, I’ll do the 250 reps again Mon/Wed, and then I’m off to Boston so no 10k workouts Thursday through Monday (only a huge Parkour event all day Saturday/Sunday :) If I can keep up these 250s M/W/F, then the places where there has to be a back-to-back workout (basically every Saturday), it can be simplay a 50-reps workout, and that’s like a “limbering up” sessions compared to 250 reps.

Screen Shot 2016-06-18 at 3.11.22 PM

ɕ

In the history of bad ideas…

(Part 34 of 36 in 10,000 Reps Project)

Today I passed 6,000.

So it turns out it is just barely possible to pull this 10k thing out of the hole.

Friday, instead of 50 reps of things, I kept plugging away and got to 120. (140 bar precisions as I had 20 to catch up from a wet bars rain-out on Wednesday.)

So today (after doing my usual short run and QM workout in the AM) I did two separate 80 reps workouts to get me 160 reps for the day. 160 reps is doable. I’m totally standing on a 1″ resistance band for the pull-ups though.

Screw it… I’m going to make a run for the finish! I’ll even add more resistance bands for the pull-ups if I have to. (Whatever it takes to avoid injury and keep good form.) I want to be done with this before my trips coming up in August!

So with that in mind, I set about juggling numbers in my workbook. There’s a hole coming up when I’ll be in Boston for 5 days at an event; No way I’m going to get any of my structured workouts in. So I marked that in the book. Then, back-figuring… There’s no way I can train every day; I must have rest days. The math leads me to the surreal goal of doing literally 200 reps every Monday, Wednesday, Friday AND Saturday from now to the 365th day on July 20th.

I have a rest day tomorrow (Sunday) and then Monday I tackle a 200-reps day. I’ll [attempt to] do two, 100 rep workouts. I’ll do one in the morning and one in the evening. Counting Monday, there are exactly 20, 200-rep-workout days remaining. (The very last workout is actually less that 200.)

In the history of bad ideas, this has to be up there…

Screen Shot 2016-06-11 at 6.09.34 PM

ɕ

Seriously, this again?

(Part 32 of 36 in 10,000 Reps Project)

Two weeks ago I started back into putting some numbers on the board. But this just-past-week I hurt my back. Tuesday I did 80 bar precisions (an easy number), but my back was feeling tired. Then Wednesday, I was really pushing it. No, actually, all I did was stand up from my desk chair. *bam* So the brunt of last week was rest, and recovery. Again. :/

On Saturday, I was feeling much better so I eased back into some normal activity. Ran for 20 minutes (with someone who is a faster runner) then did 45 minutes of QM on a tennis court — managed to go 45 minutes without standing up and with only hands and/or feet on the ground. Then I had firewood delivered about 9:30, and spent four hours of hard labor stacking it all. (I clearly don’t understand what “ease” means.)

Today, my back still feels good; it’s still recovering but on the mend.

We’re going to our regular parkour class today from 3-5. Should be beautiful weather – for heat stroke. After that, we’re heading over to the pool for some lounge time in the shade.

Monday I’ll start back into putting some numbers back up. But THIS time, I’m staying on the resistance bands longer to make sure my back is ok.

Screen Shot 2016-05-29 at 12.56.36 PM

ɕ