Too much competition…

There is such a thing as too much walking, at least for me. I’ve been using the Garmin Vivofit for over a month now and have been learning a lot about my body, my energy, my ability and even, yes, my competitiveness.

During the last four weeks I participated in the Garmin Connect challenge for walking which paired me each week with eight other users. During the first two weeks I was in the 55K Challenge based on 55,000 or more steps, then the 90K Challenge, and finally, last week, the 100K Challenge. I came in first in all three. The last one was too much. 

Garmin Challenge


As you can see I managed to walk 180,000+ steps. At a stride of 2.5 feet that works out to about 85 miles. 85 miles!

Okay, so I’m not going to be walking around the island in short order, but still 85 miles is a chunk of change.

Here’s the problem…it just took too much time. I didn’t have any real problems with the walking itself, though I have to admit that after about 2 miles it does become a bit troublesome in my right knee, though not enough to keep me from continuing at the same pace.

No, the problem is that pretty much all my time between things was eaten up by walking. For instance on Monday I walked home after work, dropped my stuff and changed clothes, then had to leave almost immediately to walk to a volunteer gig. On my moped I could have hung out another hour and fifteen minutes, on my bike I’d have had at least an hour. 

I like a little down time.

What about the positives? Well I got to see parts of the city I wouldn’t normally see, not even on my bicycle. I also felt pretty good about myself, after all, 85 miles in a week on a new hip shows I’ve recovered pretty well. Further, even though walking isn’t hugely calorie burning, it still does an excellent job and I could eat a bit more than otherwise.

And finally, the real downside was my reaction to competition. I didn’t realize how competitive I can be. Basically I tried to walk enough to win before the end of the week. I wanted the other folks to give up after a few days. It seemed, at least with the limited feedback available, that they did. Mostly I’d be just a few steps ahead till around Thursday or Friday and then the other participants would pull back, perhaps sense I was simply a bit obsessive. A bit?

In any case, after four weeks of wins I pulled out this week and decided I didn’t want to participate at that level any more. Instead of 25,000 steps a day I’m back down to about 14,000. That’s a reasonable investment in time. In addition I can bicycle again. Yeah!

On the whole it was a good experience, one I’ll probably repeat next year for a month, just to see what’s what, but something I can live without for now.



More on walking…

I came across this today while taking a break (and just before I took a walk). It’s from the New Yorker magazine and while I didn’t see extensive citations it does make sense. You can read the whole article on the New Yorker site.

The way we move our bodies further changes the nature of our thoughts, and vice versa. Psychologists who specialize in exercise music have quantified what many of us already know: listening to songs with high tempos motivates us to run faster, and the swifter we move, the quicker we prefer our music. Likewise, when drivers hear loud, fast music, they unconsciously step a bit harder on the gas pedal. Walking at our own pace creates an unadulterated feedback loop between the rhythm of our bodies and our mental state that we cannot experience as easily when we’re jogging at the gym, steering a car, biking, or during any other kind of locomotion. When we stroll, the pace of our feet naturally vacillates with our moods and the cadence of our inner speech; at the same time, we can actively change the pace of our thoughts by deliberately walking more briskly or by slowing down.

The article talks about the writers Joyce and Woolf and while I doubt I’ll be writing any major fiction anytime soon, I do feel pretty good about my neighborhood walks. 


Walking – Activity Tracking Update…

Yes I’ve been walking. This whole activity tracking business has gotten me motivated and now I’m both biking and walking and feeling the benefits. I’ve also been watching my diet and folks tell me I look a lot better. I know I feel better and more energetic.

At work I now get up every hour or two and go outside for a walk around a block or two. Our own block takes about seven minutes to circumnavigate so I’m not taking a big break; it’s just enough. All in all I’ve been making sure I add up to ten thousand or more steps a day. Actually the Garmin Vivofit is rather cunning that way…if you make your goal one day it adds a few steps to the next, and vice versa. I’m up to over eleven thousand a day so I’ve been hitting the mark.

As for my diet, I’ve been tracking calories which probably isn’t the best thing you can do (tracking nutrients might be better), but as I know I’m eating better with all the salads, less rice and carbs, and so on, it’s an okay way of learning how much food I can actually eat. I’m trying to stop before I’m full.

But here’s the deal, while I’ve had no problems with my new hip (yea!), my right knee, the problematic one, has been a bit less than cooperative. It doesn’t actually hurt after a couple of miles, but I do notice it getting a bit…tight. I’ll be seeing my surgeon and his team again, not because I think I’m ready for more surgery (no thanks), but because they are in a good position to assess things. Orthopedics is, after all, orthopedics.

In the meantime I’ll keep walking, eating right, and worry about other things.


Land’s End to John O’Groats – Normal Clothes

This showed up in my email today via the Brooks Despatch, the newsletter from Brooks Saddles. While the video is more or less an extended advertisement for their saddles, I actually love it because it has great scenery, great bikes, great saddles (I ride ‘em as documented many times here), and NORMAL CLOTHING!

Yes the blokes in this video are riding bikes and look like normal people. In the US we seem to have this, some would say unhealthy, fascination with tricking ourselves out in racing kit, even when we are simply going for bike ride.

While I’ll admit to being careful about what I wear when I ride long distances, underwear that doesn’t bind or have painful seams, things that dry quickly after a rain shower, and so forth, I mostly look like a normal guy. I don’t have special shoes, in fact I wear plain old sandals (though with socks to prevent chafing). I love these guys in the video.

The helmet thing. They don’t wear helmets. I generally do, though not always. It’s up to you.

Finally, I’d love to do this ride. In fact, I’m going to do this ride. Tomorrow. Okay, maybe not tomorrow. I am going to do this ride though.