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Hiking for the Couch Potato (Part 2)

Ridge of Inselbergs in High desertMarch has come to an end. The theme this month for the High Desert Bloggers was inspiring change. Have you been inspired to change your activity level? Are you inspired to discover new territory? I know it can be difficult, but you can do it.

They say it takes 21 days to break a habit. On the flip-side….it also takes 21 days to create a habit. Have you created a habit of walking, now that you’ve been at it for a month? Are you reading blogs about it? Or are you blogging about it? Habits are interesting behaviors. For example, you might be in the habit of drinking only 8 cups of water a day. However, as you become more active, particularly as you plan to hike in the High Desert, your body demands that you drink more water, even at this point in the game.

Water

It can be argued that water is essential to living.  It helps us process food, move nutrients, keep our electrical impulses flowing and, of course it cools us off when it is hot outside.  The high desert presents a unique challenge to individuals participating in physical activity.  It is both hot AND dry. Both of these conditions increases our water needs by a factor of 2.  Think of it like this, if you are walking or hiking in the desert in full sun, at the hottest time of the year, you will lose 2 quarts of water in 1 hour – that is just walking!

If you are RUNNING or jogging at a reasonable temperature, your body averages this same usage. Thank goodness we have the sense to stay indoors during full sun. But that does not change the fact that it is dry. As a general rule, most hikers will bring at least 1 liter of water per each hour they hike. I say, that is a pretty good rule of thumb even just walking around the neighborhood. Most hikers will NOT walk during the hottest part of the day.

The PLAN (Month 2)
You have been walking three times a week for 4 weeks now. You might have added a day if you were feeling great, and hopefully you have been consistent with paying attention to how your body feels after a walk and even the day after a walk.

You may have been walking for about 20 minutes, and if you have been feeling good, you may have been going up in duration to about 30 or 45 minutes.That is great. This duration is somewhere between 3/4 mile to 1.5 miles – depending on how long you are walking and how fast you are walking. Let’s add some frosting to this cake.

For the most part, we will walk the same 3-day per week, but we will add a 4th day. This day will be the day that you will increase EITHER your duration OR your distance. Since the high desert is relatively flat, we don’t really have to worry about elevation gain or challenging terrain – for the most part. If you lived elsewhere, you would consider this as a third factor. We will call this extra day, your “Long Day”.

An EXAMPLE
Here is how this will work:
Again, you choose you schedule. If you choose MWF, your 4th day would be Saturday and your rest day would be Sunday. If you choose T-Th-Sat, your 4th day would be Sunday, and your rest day would be Monday. We are resting on the day after so that your muscles can recuperate. Then back to the first day (Monday or Tuesday depending on your schedule). On this first day, you should take it easy. Walk a little slower and see how your body reacted to the increase of time or distance.

Week 1:
If you are walking 45 minutes on Monday’s, Wednesday’s and Friday’s, on Saturday or Sunday and you are walking about 2 miles in that 45 minutes

  • if you increase your duration, you would add 15-20 min during this week.
  • if you increase your distance you could add on another 1/2 to 2/3 mile.

Week 2:
You are already walking 45 minutes. Take an easy walk for 45 minutes on your Day 1 (Monday or Tuesday). How do you feel?
On Day 2 of the week (Wednesday or Thursday), increase your 45 minutes ONLY if you are feeling energetic. I would only increase about 10 or 15 minutes, or if you did distance, maybe 1/4 mile. The rule is that you do NOT want to increase your time or distance on this middle day by the same distance or duration you did on your “long day”. By the third day of the week (Friday or Saturday), you will do your regular distance or time but at your normal pace. As a matter of fact, your body should feel back to normal. If it does, let’s increase our time or distance on the long day. If not, let’s repeat what we did for week 1 in time and distance.

On the long day, if we walked for an hour the previous week, we should increase by 1/4. So if you walked for an hour on your last long day, you will walk 75 minutes. If you walked a mile (distance as opposed to duration) you will walk 1 1/4 mile.

Week 3:
Again, rest the day immediately following your long day.
Day 1: Moderate walk
Day 2: Regular pace/distance
Day 3: Regular pace/distance
Long day: Increase previous long day duration or distance by 1/4

Week 4:
This is the week we call a rest week. Again, we will rest the day immediately following your long day.

Day 1: Moderate walk
Day 2: Regular pace/distance
Day 3: Regular pace/distance

Long day of the 4th week we will cut our distance or duration in half and just walk that. This is called cycling and it allows your body to rest and repair itself. It helps to prevent injury. By the time you reach the next long day, you will be READY to and well rested to increase the duration or distance.

What are the benefits of following this plan?

  1. It let’s your body recover. Any running or activity article that your read these days stresses that rest period are just as important as periods of activity. We must allow our bodies to rest. That is why we sleep every day. It is a rejuvenating and replenishing process. In this plan, the first cycle is weekly. We stress our bodies one day out of the week, to increase our stamina. The remaining days, we allow our bodies to recover from the stress. On a monthly basis, we all our bodies to fully recover for one full week after 3 weeks of stress.
  2. Allowing your body to recover prevents injury. Rest days does NOT mean go to the gym and work out on weights in order to make up for the reduced mileage – especially if you are not in the habit of going to the gym. That will just lead to muscle fatigue and injury. We need to patient with ourselves and learn to respect our bodies and not punish ourselves.
  3. Less muscle fatigue means more energy to do other things. Like encourage your friends, neighbors, co-workers and fellow commuters to walk with you. Having more energy means being able to focus on other things instead of putting one foot in front of the other.

When you put a plan on a longer scale like this, you will be more likely to keep going with the program, because you won’t use the excuse that you’re too tired.
You’ve got the baseline on building mileage. Next time we will talk about choosing a trail.

_____________________________________________________________________
Beverly Familar is a blogger and hiker dedicated to encouraging and supporting well-balanced dogs through mental and physical activities. She shares her love of nature and dogs with others through her hiking group: Hiking with Fido. If you are in the Southern California, consider joining a pack hike. You can follow the pack’s furry adventures on the Hiking with Fido Google+ Page; via Twitter @hikingwithfido; via Hiking with Fido on Instagram; and on the Hiking with Fido Facebook page. Visit the pack page at http://www.hikingwithfido.com.

The Blog Life: Cloud-Style (Part 1 of 3)

The last time I met with the High Desert Bloggers, we talked technology. I realize that just because we’re all bloggers doesn’t necessarily mean that we have the same perspective about how to use existing technology. Technology that could make our blogging life easier. As for me, I am a mobile person. I know this about myself. I write about hiking; I love to get out of the house and I need to be mobile and not feel bogged down. This philosophy affects the choices I make where technology is concerned. As a blogger, hiker and avid road tripper I like to be able to create and write posts on wherever I end up. So for the next couple of installments, I’m going to write about blogging and cloud computing and the tools I use to in my on-the-go lifestyle.

The Cloud is HOT right now! I will discuss the technology/platforms that I use to keep myself mobile. As I write and post, I am able to access ideas, jot down new ones, access websites to spark ideas, and view/share pictures that I have taken on previous or current stops. What I don’t want to do is trudge around with a laptop and an external drive as store and access info on the go. My main modes of writing are my tablet, maybe a wireless keyboard and my mifi (in the event I am not in an area where there is a Starbucks on every corner).

Tool #1: EVERNOTE

Have you used this tool? Have you seen it? To me, it’s a notepad in the cloud. I create all my blog drafts in Evernote. I can work on them from home, on the train, at Starbucks, anywhere I can get good wifi. I can take pictures with my phone (using Skitch, an Evernote complementary app), save and then tag to a blog entry. Once I am ready to post, I just open my Evernote app on my notebook, grab the text and related picture and post. Pretty simple.

5 Key Features for bloggers:

1. Save and Search Cloud-style
Evernote is an online note repository. You can type, take pictures, annotate those pictures, and lately, they have added a feature where you can actually draw on a canvas. If you are a Windows user, it is like using Wordpad and MS Paint in a single application. The difference in Evernote is that you can save the notes into different file folders, then TAG the notes with keywords so that you can search for them and locate them for later. The search feature is great, because what happens if you have 99 notes in a single folder? You wouldn’t want to scroll through each of them to find the one you need? That would just be too inefficient. The best thing about it, is you can access these notes anywhere you have internet access and hardware. You can use your smartphone, tablet, netbook, notebook or desktop computers (even at work ;-D).

2013-01-21 08.00

2. Attach or Mark up Pictures

Evernote complements an app called Skitch. This is an app that allows you to mark up photos or other types of
compatible graphics, on the go. I have used it to mark up graphics that I want to blog about. It helps me remember what I want the audience to focus on as they read my piece. Here is a sample of Jake…Groucho Marx-style

3. Attach and Mark up a pdf
Evernote allows you to attach a pdf document to a note and then mark it up. This is effective if you have a tablet or some other type of mobile device like a smartphone. You can dictate a note into Evernote, then attach an assocated pdf and mark it up and save it for later.

Handwriting4. Draw/handwriting

This feature is was just added to the mobile app (tablet or iPad) and I love it.  If you are in the middle of taking notes, from a lecture or an interview, you can scrawl illustrations to your heart’s content. The scrawl may or may not be related to the lecture.  My secret is that I am a doodler. At meetings, I generally listen to what’s being said, but when you look at my notes, you’ll see swirls or flowers or some other doodle that doesn’t resemble anything related to the meeting.

 

5. Web Clipper

I find this browser extension to be the second best feature of Evernote. This feature allows you to save articles, web pages or web addresses to Evernote. You can save the item in a notebook and then apply the appropriate tag, so that you can find it later. I love using this feature because I can quick research at work, and save the article or page to read during my commute. Definitely comes in handy.

Tell me about what writing/editing apps you might you to help keep your writing on schedule.

Next time: Cloud Banks – where to keep your files online!

______________________________________________________

Beverly Familar is a blogger and hiker in California’s Inland Empire.  She strives to remain tech savvy in an constantly-changing tech world. When she is not in front of a computer or behind a tech magazine, you can find her out on the trail. She is dedicated to encouraging and supporting well-balanced dogs through mental and physical activities. She shares her love of nature and dogs with others through her hiking group: Hiking with Fido. If you are in the Southern California, consider joining a pack hike.  You can follow the pack’s furry adventures via Twitter @hikingwithfido; via on the Hiking with Fido Facebook page and at http://www.hikingwithfido.com.

 

Hiking for the Couch Potato (Part 1)

Ridge of Inselbergs in High desert

A couple of weeks ago I was with some newly found and absolutely fabulous friends in the High Desert. They are all bloggers, so it goes without saying that they pretty much write all the time, if they are not working. One person asked me if it was possible and what I would recommend, as far as training, for a blogger with a couch potato status to get into hiking. So, I am here to tell you that it is possible and I have a plan for you! This will be a monthly series of blog entries to get you to the next level. You might take longer or shorter time. You might want to add more distance initially. The point is, go at YOUR pace, and don’t hurt yourself. This should be FUN!

First I want to premise this by saying that I wasn’t always a hiker. I didn’t always visit or live near in the higher elevations, a.k.a. the high desert. I lived near the beach and practiced yoga about 3 times a week. But my search for more elbow-room and the ever-elusive idea of privacy in an urban setting, took me east towards the Inland Empire.

Living in the foothills, there is a lot of country to wander around near me. Slowly but surely I got into hiking because I wanted to experience the nature around me. I didn’t want to go alone, so I got a dog. I had to train my dog to walk next to me, so we started going on daily walks. First it was just around the block. But by the second week, we were going 3 to 4 blocks. after 6 weeks, we were walking at least 1.5 miles every day (that is approximately 30 minutes walking at a relative relaxed pace). Once a week on Saturdays, I would challenge by myself either by increasing the mileage OR increasing the difficulty of the terrain (for example, more uphill).

Nowadays I do between a 7-10 mile hike twice a month. You can get to this point too. It just takes patience, consistency and a desire to relax and enjoy the area around you. And…maybe blog about it, or at least keep a diary about how it made you feel. By the way, if your dog is not used to walking long distances, believe it or not, they need training too. This would be an excellent way to get Fido in shape!

So… Potato-heads! Are you listening? It’s time to shake off those cobwebs, grab your closest pair of shoes and get ready to take a hike around the block.

Assess your physical condition

It doesn’t matter if you have been walking for a day, a month or a year, if you are getting up from a day’s work at a desk, you need to assess how your body feels. This is a good point to stretch, especially if you feel tight. Before getting up from your chair:

  1. Rotate each foot to loosen you ankle joint;
  2. Sit up straight in your chair. Do head circles, slowly. Don’t force this. Go only as far as you feel comfortable, without feeling like you’re pulling your muscles. Tilt your head to the left, count to 20. Then do the same to the right, count to 20.
  3. Sit up straight in your chair. Extend your hand above your head and reach to the ceiling. Try to keep your shoulders relaxes. Don’t let them scrunch up next to your ears. If that means that your arms are extended out towards the sides so that you are making a wide “v”, that is fine. Just reach your arms to the ceiling. Breath in and out slowly, count to 20.
  4. With each exhale, bring your arms straight down in front of you, so you are pointing forward with straight arms. With each inhale, raise them slowly toward the ceiling again. Breath slowly, making sure that your movement does not finish before you terminate your breath. What does this mean? As you finish your exhale, you are finishing your movement of bring your arms down in front of you. And as you finish your inhale your arms are completing the movement of being raised overhead.
  5. With your arms reaching overhead, stand up while you inhale. As you exhale, extend your arms out to the sides, then down onto your thighs. As you complete your exhale, bend forward at the waist in a forward bend, but keep supporting yourself with your hands on your thighs. Be careful to only go as far as you are comfortable. do not push your limit. You should feel a slight stretch in the back of the legs. Your hands on your thighs support your back. This is important. Take three slow breathes in and out in this position. You may feel your body relax a little.

This is just getting your blood flowing after a long day of sitting. On an inhale, stand up. How do you feel? With all that slow breathing, you should feel a little more lively. We did just oxygenate your body, after all.

Grab a pair of walking shoes. Make sure they are comfortable rubber soled shoes. Grab a dog (optional). Open the door and walk. Actually that’s all a given.

The PLAN (this month)

We will only walk for duration. The first week is an experiment, because no one really knows how far they can go if they are just starting a program. I call it base-building. The days listed could be Monday-Wednesday-Friday, or Tuesday-Thursday-Saturday. Just take a break in between so you can evaluate what effect this walk had on you.

Day 1: So for this first day, let’s just stroll for 20 minutes. We’re not going for distance, we are just going for time. We are not trying to win a speed-walking competition, so just take your time. When you get home, assess how you feel. Write it down.

Day 2: Did you stretch? How do you feel after that 20 minute walk? Was it well within your limits? Increase by 5 to 10 min. Do you feel like you just want to keep walking? Go for another 20 minute walk and this time take your time and look around. You might notice something really cool, which will take your mind off of the time. Maybe invite your neighbor. Maybe invite their dog (if the dog is nice to you and others that you might pass on the street). How did you feel today? See anything interesting on your walk? Feel crummy? Feet hurt?

Day 3: Don’t forget to stretch! Assess how you feel. Don’t worry, if you feel a little muscle tension. It gets better. How did your body react to the extra time, if you added it. If it was well within your mean, you can add another 5 -10 minutes. Don’t push yourself, especially if you have never walked in successive days before. If you were at 20 min yesterday, let’s do 20 min again today, but let’s change the venue. Walk the reverse way around the block, or walk around the mall and window shop. The bottom line is, if you were a true couch potato, just getting out and moving is good for you. No doubt about that!

Self Evaluation Time

Part of physically participating in an activity like this, is also assessing where your are. Do you feel better? Or do you feel worse? If you don’t take a self-assessment, it could lead to injury. At this point, you should feel something – good or bad. Let me address how to alleviate a physical ailment.

So, assess how you feel. You have walked for 3 days. If at any point you are feeling pressure on the knees, swelling in the ankles, etc, apply RICE (no, not the food). This is what athletes do. If you have ever heard of an athlete in an ice bath, they are actually soaking their entire body in ice. COOOOOLD! As laypeople, we don’t have to be so dramatic.

RICE is:
Rest: sit on the couch. Remember you are also taking a day off in-between walking days.
Ice: Put ice n the affected area. You can get a reusable ice bag at Walgreens for $10. Just refill it with ice cubes. The ice will reduce circulation to the affected area, thus decrease the swelling.
Compression: Wrap your affected area to keep the swelling down. The system should look like this: Keep the ice on for 20 minutes. Take it off for 20 minutes. Then put it back on for 20 minutes.
ELEVATE your affected area. The idea is to elevate it above the level of your heart initially. So if you are lying down, put a pillow under your leg or arm.

NOTE: After taking ice off the 2nd time, do not walk on your leg for another 20 minutes or more. This area has to warm up again, and it is best if it is done gradually. If you notice the same reaction later on in the day, ice it again. How do you feel?

Now what do you do?

Do it all over again. Don’t forget to stretch! Assess yourself. Can you do 20 minutes again? Or were you in the 30 minute group? Do it again today. Try a different route, for more variety. Compare this route to the previous routes. What did you notice? What bored you? Want to share it? Post a comment and tell me. I’d love to hear what you have been up to!

_____________________________________________________________
Beverly Familar is a blogger and hiker dedicated to encouraging and supporting well-balanced dogs through mental and physical activities. She shares her love of nature and dogs with others through her hiking group: Hiking with Fido. If you are in the Southern California, consider joining a pack hike. You can follow the pack’s furry adventures via Twitter @hikingwithfido; via the Hiking with Fido Facebook page and at http://www.hikingwithfido.com.

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