Friday, November 13, 2009


Today has been a mixture of wind, rain, sunshine, sleet and rainbows. It's been a great day to walk.

We were eating breakfast when I looked out to the northwest and saw a beautiful rainbow. Later in the morning when the temperature was 50 we walked east below blue skies with clouds and rain in the west. Our route was a triangle with a handle; start east, turn north, turn southeast, turn west toward home. By the time we were on the last side of our route a brisk breeze was blowing into our faces, the blue skies were a memory and small scattered drops of rain kept us cool. Invigorating!


Since I've committed myself to increasing speed, distance and carried weight I've noticed an improvement. I don't have a problem with blood pressure but my BP has dropped slightly. On the end of our route to the east I was getting my heart rate up to the high 150s but that is no longer happening. The last time I walked that route I reached 149 and it was my fastest time.

I've been carrying 30 pounds in a day bag that hangs from my shoulders but I'm afraid to increase the weight since the bag was not designed for much weight. I could put weight in my backpack but I want the weight on my shoulders and a backpack carries the weight on a hip belt. A weight vest is the solution, preferably 50 pounds. Being unable to locate a vest in town I've resorted to the web and found some good prices. However, shipping is $1.50 per pound. That's more than the cost of some vests.

Julie and I will be in Amarillo the week of Thanksgiving. She located a store that carries a 40 pounds vest and phoned them. They have none in stock but have requested one from another store and may get it in. Since we'll travel through Albuquerque I'm going to check stores there for options.


Last May I drove to work, parked, stepped out of the car and felt a sharp pain in my right heal. My feet never hurt so it was a surprise. I ignored the pain for a few weeks assuming whatever was wrong would heal itself. It never happened. I searched the web, found a likely diagnosis (that I can't remember) and learned that the solution was stretching. I began stretching once or twice daily and the pain lessened and basically disappeared. When I began carrying the weight it returned but wasn't too painful. I've continued to stretch and to walk and it's almost healed.

This experience got me to thinking about how some old men walk. I've noticed men who shuffle or take short steps. Their legs remain slightly bent at the knees and are never fully straight. I decided to accentuate my steps, to step out long, to fully extend my legs until I feel the muscles and tendons stretch.

I enjoy walking. It's addictive.


Blogger Tim Hodgens said...

Hi Paul,

Could it have been plantar fasciitis? I've had it off and on for years. Backing off on walking for about 10 days, inserts in my shoes (more cushioning) and Ibuprofen does the trick for me. Yes, stretching also helps.

In the past few weeks I have taken inspiration from you and have increased the pace of my walking quite a bit. Before I start the brisk walking I do some stretching and start walking at a comfortable pace for 5 or 6 minutes and then I walk as fast as I can for the remainder of my 40 - 45 minutes. Once I start hustling, I think that I'm the bat who got out of hell and is laughing about but moving fast enough to not get caught. The trick is to do this while staying relaxed. (It's been too short a period of time to make any real assessment of this process but I can say that I have experienced more energy, much more energy each day and have much more mental clarity than usual.)

Last week I came across a book entitled: Born To Run. I haven't purchased it but have read 10 - 15 pages in various parts of the book. Very interesting.

The author, a runner, started the book after he developed foot pain and asked himself why he had pain. The first segment of the book describes the traditional medicine / physical therapy / stretching / new running shoes routine. None of it helped and the experts suggested he take up a new sport.

He then came across some information about a group of indians in central Mexico who regularly run 100 miles. The mind blower is that they break almost every one of our beliefs as to how to run...and they do it without any of the "inevitable" injuries which plague everyone in our society.

Take a look at the bottom of this page on

Let me know what you think.


11/13/2009 04:29:00 PM  
Blogger Alex Pendragon said...

I'd like to spend a week or two with you guys, and I'd even be willing to do all that walking with you just to get in the groove you guys are into.

11/13/2009 07:31:00 PM  
Blogger Paul said...


I first heard of the Tarahumara years ago while working in fund raising during some motivational workshop under the label "paradigm shift".

The reviews of the book make it sound interesting and worth reading for multiple reasons. I especially found the review by L. Walker as a counter weight to some of the statements that idealized Tarahumara society.

Last week I saw the second of three programs on PBS about the evolution of man. This program had video of four men hunting some antelope or deer and running for hours until the animal was incapacitated due to heat exhaustion. The point was that we evolved to be "hairless" as a way to run for hours without over heating like prey animals. We evolved to run.

Given my biases, one of the things I read into the description of the book, the Q and A with the author and the Washington Post review is the importance of returning to a pre-technology lifestyle that is more physical and less stressful.

I think it was Nova that had a program about two years ago in which a team of men and women aged thirties to sixties, healthy weight and over weight, were recruited, trained and entered into the Boston Marathon. One man had previously had a heart attack. One young woman early on experienced minor bone fractures and withdrew but all of the others finished the marathon, admittedly way behind the winners but they did finish. Inspiring.

As I wrote earlier, I'm motivated partially by the backpacking trip in March with younger men. However, I have other more important motivations also -- better health, preparation for an active end to my life, brain health. One other motivation is a long distance trail. For years I've wanted to backpack the Appalachian Trail but that's not a possibility at this time. However, Julie and I have discussed some other options and I'm going to solo hike the John Muir trail (223 miles with 50,000 feet of elevation change) in 2011.

One of the things that makes the book attractive to me is this sentiment. "But here’s the real key to that kingdom: you have to relax and enjoy the run. No one cares how fast you run 50 miles, so ultrarunners don’t really stress about times. They’re out to enjoy the run and finish strong...".

In response to my foot pain, yes, it is plantar fasciitis.

I identified with your statement "I have experienced more energy, much more energy each day and have much more mental clarity than usual." That's been my experience. I feel better, more enthused, more alive.

It would be wonderful to live close together so we could meet to walk at a brisk pace and discuss ideas, books and the mysteries of life.

11/14/2009 08:12:00 AM  
Blogger Anvilcloud said...

I must go for a walk this morning. I'm so lazy.

11/16/2009 08:18:00 AM  

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