Run 675: Snakes and ganders

It’s been more than three weeks since I last did a 5K run, so I once again opted to go slow ‘n steady. I suppose all the other walking and workouts in the meantime helped, as while my pace was slow (6:16/km), it was a fair bit peppier than the run on April 24, which followed the same route.

I did stop only a few hundred meters in, because there was a snake on the trail and I absolutely had to take a picture of it. Behold, snake:

This is a common garter snake of the valley variety. It casually slithered off after I took the photo (I cropped it–I tried not to get too close).

The first km of the run (post-snake) was perhaps faster than intended at 5:54/km. This often happens, as you start with boundless energy. By the second km I was deliberately holding back, and maybe went too far the other way, dropping to a sluggish 6:26/km. My pace held steady near the average for the last 3 km. I experienced no cramps or other issues, save for my left elbow being a bit sore. Why it was sore I don’t know. It didn’t seem to be from running, it’s just the swinging motion while running accentuated that it was sore. Maybe I slept on it.

As it was a weekday afternoon–and the weather was delightfully normal, which it hasn’t been for most of May–the trail was not crowded. I saw a few other runs, including a guy who was maybe around 20 and was running without a shirt to show off his ridiculously flat stomach. He didn’t have killer abs or anything, his mid-section was just utterly flat. It looked unnatural. I was jealous. He passed me a second time, still looking like the jog wasn’t causing him to expend any energy at all. This also made me jealous.

The geese were on the sports field, with gaggles of goslings in a variety of sizes. I didn’t see anything else other than a few squirrels and a pair of forlorn male wood ducks.

In all, it was nice to get out for another run, and the better pace was a pleasant bonus. I shall do this again soon. Not soon™, actual soon!

I am thinking of looking into new running shoes, though. The Calderas are fine, but I’m not crazy with the way they lace up. Also, the laces are weirdly super-long. I might check out reviews of the latest Speedgoats. I loved those things, other than how they dyed my socks new and interesting colors.

Stats:

Run 675
Average pace: 6:16/km
Location: Burnaby Lake, CCW
Start: 1:06 p.m.
Distance: 5:03 km
Time: 31.33
Weather: Sunny with some high cloud
Temp: 17ºC
Humidity: 51%
Wind: light
BPM: 157
Weight: 173.2
Total distance to date: 4978 km
Devices: Apple Watch Series 5, iPhone 12, AirPods (3rd generation)
Shoes: Brooks Caldera 5 (98 km)

“This Amazing Productivty Hack”

Good ol’ clickbait! Here’s how the above headline was presented in my Medium Weekly Digest newsletter:

Want to know what the amazing productivity hack is?

“Send everything to the trash first, then pull out from the trash what’s important.”

Yes, the author literally advocates deleting all your email from the inbox, then going to the trash/deleted items folder and pulling out what you really want to keep.

Or, you know, don’t subscribe to a bunch of crap you never read in the first place? Then there’s no need for any kind of multistep process, because all the junk email you don’t want or need never arrives! That’s my amazing productivity hack.

The author alleges that “By the end of the day, there were more than 50 emails chillaxing in my new digital Zen space. How dare they! And they were nearly early all spam — including stuff I thought I’d unsubscribed from, blocked, or banned.” This sounds rather fishy. First, she uses the huge caveat of “I thought I’d…” which probably means “I never did”, or she has catastrophically bad filtering on her email account. Or both. Also, how do you “ban” email?

Here’s another amazing productivity hack: Don’t waste your time reading stories like this, or even blog posts like this one deconstructing them. Go play with a puppy or kitten instead. Hug a tree. Talk to a plant. East a cookie. Or one of the other billion trillion quadrillion things that would be a better use of your time.

In conclusion, this cat:

Fat is where it’s at (if it’s fat)

yellow analog meter
Not quite this hefty–yet! Photo by mali maeder on Pexels.com

Today the weather was sunny and almost seasonal. I decided to celebrate by going out and taking birb pictures. But before going out, I contemplated wearing shorts. I ended up wearing my comfy covid sweatpants (to be fair, I got them pre-pandemic). But while I contemplated, I pulled out a nice pair of casual shorts, the kind I wore in summers of yore, size 31 waist. I pulled them on. I zipped up the zipper. I did the button up at the top of the zipper. As you can see, I remembered perfectly how to put on shorts.

There was one small problem, though. Or rather a big problem. A big FAT problem.

My waist.

My waist is currently not size 31. I daresay it is not 32 or maybe even 33, either. I think it may be back to my pre-2008 size of 34. Technically I could wear the shorts, but in this case technically is not the best kind of correct, because I was being squeezed to death by clothing. The only way wearing those shorts would have been practical in any way would have been through spontaneous and magical liposuction.

So I wore the sweatpants.

My weight is currently at a bit of a plateau at the moment, but it should start coming down again through the remainder of the month. Will it be enough to let me revisit the bygone days of being under 170 pounds before we (jelly) roll into June? Perhaps. I’d like to think that by then I could wear those size 31 shorts without having to give up breathing, but I know that is unlikely. So that is my goal, my north star–to be able to wear my size 31 shorts before the weather becomes inhospitable to exposing my legs to the elements.

Excelsior!

Daily activities for 2022 and beyond: Day 1 results

Let’s have a look at how I did on my first day (a recap in case you arrived at this post directly):

  • Draw one thing (when lacking a specific subject, I will grab a prompt and limit myself to 5 minutes total time to get this done) DONE
  • Record a journal entry (using Diarium, which has a somewhat unfortunate name, but is cross-platform) DONE
  • Write a blog entry DONE
  • Take a photo of something. It doesn’t have to be good or even interesting, just a photo…of something. DONE
  • Exercise: Walk outside, walk on the treadmill, run on the treadmill or run outside. Or ride my bike, skip rope or something that can actually be considered exercise and isn’t like, “I lifted the TV remote 20 times today!” DONE
  • Spend time learning more of the software I use to become a professional expert of impressive knowledge or something. This includes:
    • Unity
    • Affinity Designer
    • Affinity Photo
    • Procreate
    • DaVinci Resolve
    • Blender
    • Visual Studio/C#
    • Obsidian
    • Various other 2D animation and other art programs DONE
  • Work in some way on my snazzy newsletter DONE

Yes, I went 7 for 7 on my first day. I gave myself an imaginary medal! I did better on some of these than others, but hey, I did it.

Now let’s see if I can maintain momentum for two entire days in a row.

Walk 65: A little of everything

Today, I wasn’t sure what I was going to do. I wasn’t even sure how to dress, other than not going out naked (it’s still a bit on the cool side). I finally opted for a double layer to protect against the wind, gambling that the rain would hold off–and it did!

My next decision was how much to walk vs. how much to run. What I ended up doing was this:

  • Walked just under 4 km to the end of the river trail
  • Ran the 2 km back to entrance of river trail
  • Walked partway back up river trail, then home, a little under 3 km

This makes the stats a bit tricky, so what I’m doing for today only is listing the combined walk stats first, then the run stats after.

As for the outing, it was nice to get out and get moving again. The treadmill is fine, but it’s so much nicer to be outside and actually have full control of when you stop and start and how fast you move. I went a bit slow ‘n steady on the run part and came in at an even 6:00/km, which is okay given how little I’ve been running. No cramps or other issues. Even my shoe laces stayed tied!

Now I just need to go more often and maybe have the weather get a wee bit closer to seasonal.

Stats:

Walk 65
Average pace: 9:12/km and 8.02/km
Location: Brunette River trail
Distance: 3.79 km and 2.80 km
Time: 34:55 and 22.28
Weather: Cloudy, some sun
Temp: 12ºC
Humidity: 61%
Wind: moderate to high
BPM: 124 and 138
Weight: 173.9 pounds

And the run, only including stats that are different:

Average pace: 6:00/km
Distance: 2.05 km
Time: 12:19
BPM: 160
Total distance to date: 478.26 km
Devices: Apple Watch Series 5, iPhone 12
Total distance to date: 486.90 km

And the music plays on (very briefly)…

Today I was feeling all nostalgic up in the hizzy and dug out two old music players, my 7th generation iPod nano and a Sansa Clip. Here they be:

iPod nano 7th generation and Sansa Clip

The Sansa Clip is the older of the two. It was the first MP3 player I got for running and it worked well, being extremely light, compact and having a clip that let you easily attach it to your shorts, shirt or gorgeously braided hair. I believe I got it in 2009, the same year I started jogging (I ended the year by doing my first 10K run and can’t imagine I would have done so without musical accompaniment). The one downside is the storage was a mere 2 GB, so it could only hold a hundred or so songs–enough for a run, but not a whole lot of variety.

The iPod nano I got in 2012 and replaced a 5th generation one. It featured some nice improvements:

  • Lightning port instead of the 30-pin connector
  • Bluetooth, although I never actually used it
  • Super light and thin, yet sturdy in construction
  • 16 GB of storage, which couldn’t hold my entire music collection at the time but got close enough that I felt I wasn’t really missing anything I’d like to listen to while on a run
  • Built-in Nike+ app that no longer needed a foot pod to track steps/runs
  • It looks like an adorable miniature iPhone (running iOS 6, though it didn’t actually run iOS)

I used the nano (which was the last one Apple made, discontinuing it in 2017) until I switched over to using a smartphone to track runs, the first being an iPhone 5c. I quite liked it, though the touchscreen would go wonky when it got wet, making it less than ideal for soggy runs (not to be confused with having the soggy runs–ew). To be fair, the Apple Watch I now use has the same issues in the rain, although you can turn off the touch to prevent phantom taps and such. In the nano’s favor, it could transfer music about a billion times faster from my PC vs. transferring music from my phone to the Watch, a task that takes so long I have given up on doing it.

I kind of miss these dedicated single-purpose devices. Because they only did one thing*, the UI and buttons were very focused on driving that experience. This was especially appreciated for activities like running where you don’t want to fiddle with multi-level menus and excessive clicks.

Both devices still power up, as you can see from my pic. The Sansa Clip battery appears to be almost completely dead, though. It only stays awake for a few moments before warning the battery is low, even after charging. The nano is better, but even it looks like it would only last a fraction of what it normally might. Not surprising for something 10 years old. I wonder if the battery can be replaced? Hmm.

* Technically the iPod nano could do more than play music, as you could listen to podcasts, watch videos or look at photos, I didn’t do any of these things with mine, however.

My anti-subscription crusade begins anew!

One of the worst parts of Apple’s App Store success has been the move (encouraged heavily by Apple) toward Software as a Service (SaaS). This benefits both the developer and Apple because:

  • The developer gets a continuous revenue stream via ongoing subscription
  • Apple gets a continuous cut as it takes 30% of every subscription collected, in perpetuity (this can drop to 15% under some conditions)

This does not benefit the consumer, as they now might pay $50 per year in perpetuity for an app that once cost $50 total. In theory, the primary benefit to the consumer is ongoing, active development of the application, with the revenue stream providing stability the developers would lack if they sold their programs as a one-time purchase option.

I think that argument is largely bunk, and it made me stop using Ulysses for about a year and a half before I finally acquiesced and got a sub for it at a 25% off rate. But no more!

I have canceled or opted to not renew the software subscriptions I have, with a few exceptions.

A list! That is also a table! This shows the before and after apps, but not in that order.

Subscription-free replacementSubscription-based app that was replaced
Diarium (journaling)Day One
iA Writer, Scrivener (writing)Ulysses
Affinity Photo (image editing)Adobe Photoshop
Affinity Designer (vector image editing)Adobe Illustrator
Obsidian (note-taking)Craft

And the exceptions for which I still pay a subscription:

  • Microsoft 365. This is the family version, so it allows both me and my partner to access all the apps. While I do use Excel and Word sometimes, the main benefit of this is the 1 TB of OneDrive storage.
  • TickTick. I decided to try the paid version for a year, to see how it compares to going free. The calendar view, which is not available in the free version, turns out to be something I literally never use.
  • Todoist. I couldn’t decide between this and TickTick, so I am running both in tandem. It’s silly, but I’m a silly person. In six months I’ll pull the plug on at least one of these.

If you are software savvy™ you might note that some of the software that have subs can be used for free, albeit with some features disabled (Craft, Day One), while others, like Ulysses, cannot be used at all, apart from a brief trial period. Note also that none of the subscription apps are bad–they are all quite good, and some are industry standards (Photoshop, for example). And while it looks like it takes two apps to replace Ulysses, iA Writer and Scrivener have very different focuses and, unlike Ulysses, are cross-platform, which is another thing I’ve decided is critical to the software I use. All the replacement apps are available on Windows and macOS. In fact, they all have iOS versions, too.

If I end up having giant regrets over switching to the apps listed in the table above, I will make a follow-up post, complete with a well-chosen “I’m very remorseful” image. For now, I think this is the right call. I save money and also help support a model I prefer. Win-win!

Things I will do every day, starting…tomorrow. Absolutely tomorrow.

I am feeling revitalized for reasons unknown and feel it’s time to exercise some discipline, make things happen and other assorted clichés.

Here’s my list of things I will be doing every day. Note: I have excluded essential things for healthy living or just living, period, like eating, sleeping, breathing and pooping.

Daily activities for 2022 and beyond™

  • Draw one thing (when lacking a specific subject, I will grab a prompt and limit myself to 5 minutes total time to get this done)
  • Record a journal entry (using Diarium, which has a somewhat unfortunate name, but is cross-platform)
  • Write a blog entry
  • Take a photo of something. It doesn’t have to be good or even interesting, just a photo…of something.
  • Exercise: Walk outside, walk on the treadmill, run on the treadmill or run outside. Or ride my bike, skip rope or something that can actually be considered exercise and isn’t like, “I lifted the TV remote 20 times today!”
  • Spend time learning more of the software I use to become a professional expert of impressive knowledge or something. This includes:
    • Unity
    • Affinity Designer
    • Affinity Photo
    • Procreate
    • DaVinci Resolve
    • Blender
    • Visual Studio/C#
    • Obsidian
    • Various other 2D animation and other art programs
  • Work in some way on my snazzy newsletter

I think that’s enough for now. Let’s see how well I do tomorrow, ho ho.

Treadmill workout 148: This thing goes to 6.8

Dissatisfied already with the results I’ve been getting with the speed set to 6.7, I bumped it up to 6.8 around the 15-mniue mark of today’s workout. This works out to an average of 8:49/km, which is a pretty zippy walking pace. The incline is still set to 5, which translates to a 5% grade (it goes up to 15, which is very steep).

The result was an improved pace of 8:43/km. I should add that I read the following just now when looking up how the incline increments translate (I couldn’t recall if it was a one-to-one on percentage of incline, which it is):

Before you start tinkering with the incline knob or button on your treadmill, it’s important to first ensure your form is on point. A lot of people naturally feel the need to lean back in order to compensate for the increased incline. Still others hold onto the hand rails. Both are big no-nos say pros.

Hanging on to the machine reduces activation of the leg muscles, which essentially defeats the purpose of increasing incline. So, whether you are walking, running, or sprinting, you should never set the incline or speed so high that you can’t move hands-free with proper form.

Source: https://www.womenshealthmag.com/fitness/a19903862/treadmill-incline/

Well, whoopsy-doodle, I have been holding onto the front-facing handles (that also measure heart rate) all this time because a speed of 6.5 or above is high enough that it’s hard to stay stable on the treadmill without doing so. How much have I been cheating myself out of a good workout? At least a little, it seems. Maybe I should go back to doing runs at a 1% incline. Or just go back outside. Things to ponder.

In the meantime, the stats:

Speed: 6.7-6.8 (last 30 minutes)
Incline: 5

Pace: 8:43/km (8:47/km)
Time: 44:09 (44:14)
Distance: 5.06 km (5.03 km)
Calories burned: 332 (368)
BPM: 121 (126)

Treadmill workout 147: A li’l slower

It was actually a nice day today, with the sun out and everything. It got to 17C, which is almost (almost!) the normal temperature. But because it was a day of chores and errands, I ended up doing another treadmill workout instead of a run. I only kind of regret it, mostly because the next time I go to do a run it will almost certainly be raining.

And then I was slower again today than the previous workout, despite not feeling tired like I did last time. I also forgot to set the speed to 6.7 and so the first part was 6.5, which may have also had a slight effect.

Still, working out is working out.

Stats:

Speed: 6.7
Incline: 5

Pace: 8:47/km (8:44/km)
Time: 44:14 (43:52)
Distance: 5.03 km (5.02 km)
Calories burned: 368 (345)
BPM: 126 (122)

Out and aboot, May 15, 2022

Summer arrives in just 37 days. Woo!

It topped out at 13C and rained most of the day. I decided to go out, get some fresh air and also get wet. The get wet part was not planned, strictly speaking, as it wasn’t raining when I headed out, but was very much doing so once I got a good way from home. But it’s just water!

Speaking of water, the Brunette River is on the rise. It shouldn’t spill over its banks, though, unless the weather really goes sideways. I’m assuming for now it won’t.

My feet:

Slippery bridge.

Treadmill workout 146: Suddenly like a workout

Today was the first time since I upped the speed that the workout felt like a real workout. Around the 3K mark, I began to feel tired, and my pace started to flag. I picked up toward the end, but as you’ll see my lightning pace of yesterday has been tempered somewhat.

I didn’t have any issues per se, just feeling tired partway through. I can’t say for sure why this happened. Too much exercise? Not enough sleep? Incubating an alien? Who can say?

Stats:

Speed: 6.7
Incline: 5

Pace: 8:44/km (8:40/km)
Time: 43:52 (43:34)
Distance: 5.02 km (5.02 km)
Calories burned: 345 (364)
BPM: 122 (127)