Truth (In Step Counting)

“The goal is to take ten thousand steps per day, and once you do, it vibrates.”  “Hard?” “No,” she said. “It’s just a tingle.”

I bought a Fitbit of my own…Ten thousand steps, I learned, amounts to a little more than four miles for someone my size. It sounds like a lot, but you can cover that distance over the course of an average day without even trying…I was traveling myself when I got my Fitbit, and because the tingle feels so good, not just as a sensation but also as a mark of accomplishment, I began pacing the airport rather than doing what I normally do, which is sit in the waiting area…I also started taking the stairs instead of the escalator and avoiding the moving sidewalk…

To people like Dawn and me, people who are obsessive to begin with, the Fitbit is a digital trainer, perpetually egging us on. During the first few weeks that I had it, I’d return to my hotel at the end of the day, and when I discovered that I’d taken a total of, say, twelve thousand steps, I’d go out for another three thousand.  “But why?” Hugh asked when I told him about it. “Why isn’t twelve thousand enough?” “Because,” I told him, “my Fitbit thinks I can do better.” I look back at that time and laugh—fifteen thousand steps—ha! That’s only about seven miles! …

I was averaging twenty-five thousand steps, or around ten and a half miles per day. Trousers that had grown too snug were suddenly loose again, and I noticed that my face was looking a lot thinner. Then I upped it to thirty thousand steps and started walking farther afield…

I look back on the days I averaged only thirty thousand steps and think, Honestly, how lazy can you get? When I hit thirty-five thousand steps a day, Fitbit sent me an e-badge, and then one for forty thousand, and forty-five thousand. Now I’m up to sixty thousand, which is twenty-five and a half miles. Walking that distance at the age of fifty-seven with completely flat feet while lugging a heavy bag of garbage takes close to nine hours—a big block of time but hardly wasted. I listen to audiobooks and podcasts. I talk to people…

At the end of my first sixty-thousand-step day, I staggered home with my flashlight knowing that now I’d advance to sixty-five thousand and that there’d be no end to it until my feet snapped off at the ankles. Then it’d just be my jagged bones stabbing into the soft ground. Why is it some people can manage a thing like a Fitbit, while others go off the rails and allow it to rule, and perhaps even ruin, their lives? While marching along the roadside, I often think of a TV show that I watched a few years back—Obsessed, it was called…

For reasons I cannot determine, my Fitbit died. I was devastated when I tapped the broadest part of it and the little dots failed to appear. Then I felt a great sense of freedom. It seemed that my life was now my own again. But was it? Walking twenty-five miles, or even running up the stairs and back, suddenly seemed pointless, since without the steps being counted and registered, what use were they? I lasted five hours before I ordered a replacement, express delivery. It arrived the following afternoon, and my hands shook as I tore open the box. Ten minutes later, my new master strapped securely around my left wrist, I was out the door, racing, practically running, to make up for lost time.

David Sedaris, from “Stepping Out” in Calypso  (May, 2018)


Photo: Thad Zajdowicz with “Keep Walking

Running. With Potpourri.

I’m off. Running. 6:05 am and it’s 76° F, already. Humidity is thick, legs are heavy, body is huge, mind is resisting, all of it groaning under the pressure of NO.

Scenes of the last 3 days flicker by.

pot·pour·ri (n) a mixture of things

In a small patch of grass, with Holly Pond on its right, a guard rail on the left, and Post Road to the North, is a flock. Not of a like-kind. But 2 adult geese, 3 toddlers, a mallard and a sparrow. All quietly feeding as I approach. Mother Goose, protecting her young-uns, approaches, neck fully extended…tall and fierce with her wings spread wide…hissing. This luncheon is human-free, and I was not welcome. All these creatures, peacefully feeding, and yet we, a higher level of intelligence can’t seem to sit in a room and have a civil conversation.

I’m in the dentist chair. Not flat, but with feet higher than head. Hygienist is wearing a face mask and magnified eye goggles. Poking, scraping, suction, flossing. I’m lolling in and out of nausea and claustrophobia. Overhead lamp beams down. I’m Dustin Hoffman in the scene from Marathon Man. Blood rushes to my head. I swallow, shift my legs and grip the arms of the chair. Hygienist notices the discomfort and withdraws. Breathe DK, breathe. I regain my composure.

Feet and legs have been hurting after my runs. Time for new shoes. I’m third in line, waiting to check out at Dick’s Sporting Goods. It’s late afternoon on July 4th. I’m watching one of three check out clerks. She’s large boned, broad shouldered, and tired. I walk up and hand her the shoes – with an intense desire to see what shoes she is wearing. She’s been standing since 10 am on a statutory holiday. She places the shoe box into a plastic bag, drops in the receipt and offers an obligatory “Thank you.” I’m walking out the door. Should have tipped her. Should have. Should have. Should have. [Read more…]

Running. With Restraint. And With None of It.

What do you excel at?

A) Habitual repeating. (Professional kind)

Consistent, effective execution. Compulsive in following through on commitments. Dependable. You can count on him.

And that’s life isn’t it, the antithesis of what makes you effective at “A”, makes you a disaster a “B”.

B) Habitual repeating, in bulk. (Personal kind. Random, exculpatory list below.)

  • Thoughts. (Swirling, incessant, dark)
  • Doubts. (Many)
  • Food (Binges, sugar, fast food, anything).
  • Running ‘paths’ (Note emphasis on paths and not running, there should be zero inferences to mastery in frequency, distance or pace.)
  • Blog post ‘themes’. (Note emphasis on themes. And no mention of original work.)

How many times can you spout on about the same sh*t? Let’s see. Let’s use metaphors, not your own of course. Because that would take talent, effort. How many times? Richard Powers, “A thousand—a thousand thousand—green-tipped, splitting fingerlings.”

So here we go again. [Read more…]

Running. With Mint Chocolate Chip.

Here we go again.

Up 10 lbs in less than 30 days. No walking, no step challenges, no running, no elliptical, no treadmill. How easy to Quit. Devilishly insidious. One day. And then a week. A Month. And counting. How fast it all comes apart.   

Laying in bed, skimming blog posts, RSS feeds, morning papers – words skittering by, wispy clouds, digesting nothing. I pull the covers up. I’ll run this afternoon. Maybe. Sure I willNo I won’t.

I’m out the door, Running.

Mile 1: Cool, 50 F. Lower back stiff. Legs heavy. Can’t see 3 miles today. Hell, not sure I can see the end of 2.

Mile 2: Lower back loosening. Legs heavy. Stomach queasy. 7:30 PM yesterday. Snack run to Palmer’s Grocery. I cut through the rows to the freezer aisle. I wipe the condensation off the glass. Eyes move from Brand to Brand to Brand. Momentary calm settles in. I grab a pint of Häagen-Dazs Mint Chip Ice Cream. And then a pint of Talenti Gelato Mediterranean Mint. And then something called Graeter’s Handcrafted French Pot Mint Chocolate Chip. And a quart of Edy’s mint Chocolate Chip. Yep, 4 containers of Mint Chocolate Chip. [Read more…]

Running. And only God knows why.

Here we go again.

“Come on Dave. Sign up.”

It’s a Step Challenge at work.  Voluntary contributions, not tied to step count, benefit a Children’s hearing and seeing charity. The Challenge is two work weeks long, ending yesterday.

Normal humans enroll, walk with colleagues, kid each other on their position in the rankings, go home, kick back and go at it again. All good fun!

Well, there just ain’t anything normal here. Fun? Participation? Bah!

You’ve seen the carrot tied to a stick leading a stubborn mule…the mule plods forward, eyes locked on the prize…dragging one hoof in front of another, puffs of dust misting behind the sorry beast.

While the myth certainly is compelling, haunting even, studies have proven that while the animal is coaxed to move, it won’t move with elongated locomotion.

Well, once again, I’m here to prove that these scientific studies are garbage. (Think Butter was bad. Think Salt was bad.) Some mules will mindlessly chase a carrot, or less.  The prize? None, but for the potential of seeing one’s name on top of a steps leader board.

It’s Friday morning. I’m at least 10,000 to 20,000 steps behind, with 10 hours to go. [Read more…]

Running. It’s been a long day!


Source: @GrantTanaka.  Carol, thank you!

Fitbit Epilogue: Old Man 1. Millennials…Shut out.


Backstory: Flying Over I-40 N. With Fitbit Step Challenge.

No Dog. No Walks.

Dog walking is a popular everyday physical activity. Dog owners are generally more active than non-owners, but some rarely walk with their dog. The strength of the dog–owner relationship is known to be correlated with dog walking, and this qualitative study investigates why. Twenty-six interviews were combined with autoethnography of dog walking experiences. Dog walking was constructed as “for the dog”, however, owners represented their dog’s needs in a way which aligned with their own. Central to the construction of need was perceptions of dog personality and behaviour. Owners reported deriving positive outcomes from dog walking, most notably, feelings of “happiness”, but these were “contingent” on the perception that their dogs were enjoying the experience. Owner physical activity and social interaction were secondary bonuses but rarely motivating. Perceptions and beliefs of owners about dog walking were continually negotiated, depending on how the needs of the owner and dog were constructed at that time. Complex social interactions with the “significant other” of a pet can strongly motivate human health behaviour. Potential interventions to promote dog walking need to account for this complexity and the effect of the dog-owner relationship on owner mental wellbeing.

~ Carri Westgarth, abstract from I Walk My Dog Because It Makes Me Happy: A Qualitative Study to Understand Why Dogs Motivate Walking and Improved Health (mdpi.com, August 19, 2017)


Notes:

  • Inspired by our Zeke, and his passing one year ago today. (9/5/16) His photo above.
  • Related Posts: Zeke

Bike Ride Anyone?

A thesis could be written on the rigours of the Tour de France, but Poljanski’s photo, showing legs riven with veins that look poised to burst and skin frazzled by the sun, says it all.

“After sixteen stages I think my legs look little tired,” the cyclist wrote on Instagram alongside the picture.

Dr Bradley Launikonis, from the University of Queensland’s School of Biomedical Science, explained what happens to the legs during long-distance cycling. “The amount of blood that we get normally going down to our legs is five litres per minute, for anyone at rest. For an untrained athlete, their maximum exercise will have 20 litres per minute flowing through the muscles.”

The 27-year-old Polish cyclist, who rides for Bora–Hansgrohe, is currently 75th in the general classification, after finishing 66th in the 16th stage between Le Puy-en-Velay and Romans-sur-Isere.

~ Chris Graham, ‘That can’t be healthy’: Polish cyclist Pawel Poljanski’s photo reveals the ravages of Tour de France (The Guardian, July 19, 2017)


Source: Photo – Pawel Poljanski via Your Eyes Blaze Out. Quote: The Guardian:

Bones to me

 


Source: Aparna Nancherla (via Paper Ghosts)

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