Going Keto, Going Long

Okay, so really slow start today. Woke up, made coffee, got breakfast into the boy and then took him to Minglemint for the second cup. At this point, I’d only eaten about a quarter of a banana he’d refused to eat.

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Ran some errands after drop off, sipping coffee the whole time. Made that second cup last a long while. Came home and cleaned downstairs until about 11:30. Then geared up and hit the trail. My vivosmart HR+ would not sync with the satellites so I put on the old forerunner 910xt (without heart rate monitor) and took off.

Went down to the beach twice, which gave me some elevation today. Dog was mostly cool the whole way, save a minor incident with a labradoodle on the way up from the beach the first time. Right knee has a minor twinge on the inside and below the patella. Lower, right side back is a little sore. Right shoulder behind scapula is a little sore.

Save that bite of banana this morning I haven’t eaten since yesterday at about 1730. Sweaty, stinky and burning off that belly.

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So Much Easier

Last night it was a small helping of rice. Today, I’ve already passed up fruits and I’m going to pass on Tuesday afternoon gluten-free pizza Aral and I traditionally eat. I’m well on my way to ketosis. And the surprising thing is that this brush with it doesn’t seem all that difficult. I’m not craving much … of anything. And that’s great!

Swelling my hands and feet has been eliminated. My back, while a bit stiff from ripping up grass in the yard in preparation for the garden, isn’t hurting. I don’t even feel a twinge in my right knee after rolling an ankle and banging it good on yesterday’s run.

Tonight, I’ve got to take the boy to his piano lesson. I think I’m feeling up for a light run as the sun sets, and man does that feel good. I’m going to light up the night.

Crawling into Bed

Ugh! Today was my first time in a long while doing sprints. Just two, all out up a hill, and apparently my heart rate monitor doesn’t read as well when my body is pouring perspiration all over it, but there it is. I’ve been cleaning since I got back and right now I’m also dragging an amazing amount of ass. OMG get the Led out, cause this is epic fatigue.

Okay, yeah I know why I’m doing this. Desensitization to pain, improved aerobic ceiling, and hormonal and metabolic response to name but a few reasons. But it’s difficult to remember that, anything actually, when you’re a couple deep breaths away from an involuntary nap.

Tonight, my friends, I shall crawl into bed with the all the dignity due to an extremely tired person.

#OldManRunning

If you follow my Instagram, Strava, or Twitter feed you’ve seen that I’ve been getting out again. The change came after a conversation with my cousin Chad who basically pointed out to me that I’ve been lazy curr for a good long while now. He’s totally correct, I have let myself go. And yeah, sure I’ve got a long list of excuses, but I know that’s just what they are. I’m not doing what I need to in order to provide for my own health, sanity, and happiness.

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Elements of a Whole Matt

I’ve always been a runner and a hiker, just never very fast. I’m also well beyond the time in my life where I might find success racing. Since 2012 I’ve struggled to stay active and to find the motivation to get out onto the trails and this has, in turn, created complications for me. Weight (~190 lbs [87 kg]), body image, energy levels, flexibility, and mood: all these things use to be pretty good for me, right now not so much. I’m about 25 lbs overweight (~190 lbs [87 kg]), don’t particularly like to acknowledge my self in the mirror, often feel sluggish, sore and stiff, and lose motivation to do even necessary things from time to time.

Back when none of that was a worry, I was a happy-go-lucky dude that just smiled as he went through life. I was effective, capable and ready for anything. My favorite year, in fact, was 2009 when I spent stupid amounts of time on the trail. Stupid and necessary amounts of time.

Matt, it seems, is best when he’s dusty with trail dirt.

The Goals

Okay, it’s a short list, but that’s because I’m trying to keep it simple. Unquestionably, it’s easier to reach for simple.

  • Lose about 25 lbs
  • Be able to run long distance again
  • Improve my body’s autoimmune response
  • Sleep like a rockstar
  • Travel for some running and hiking
  • Serve my wife, family and friends more effectively

We’ve been over the reasons why more times than I’d like to recount (because each time I stop running I’ve eventually got to go back to my core motivation and reexamine what the hell I’m up to). I can easily track inputs and outputs around some of this, others are less tangible. For instance, I can keep records of what I eat, how long I sleep, how much I weigh, and how much I’m exercising, but I can only track if and when I’m getting sick, not how many sicknesses I’ve been exposed to and successfully fought off. But the bottom line for all of this is an improvement in my quality of life.

Also, notice, nowhere in there does it say race. I write this as a reminder to myself, “Hey dumbass, you’re no longer racing.”

Why No Racing?

“I’m too old,” is actually a craptastic answer. There a plenty of older men and women who line up below the inflatable arch every weekend. I think a lot of this decision comes down to two elements.

Valuetanium: a heavy metal found only in the human soul which gains weight in response to the thoughts and time we put next it. Basically, for the energy and time I have to run and trek, I need to invest it in the experience and moments that time on the trail can generate. Running is a meditation, an exercise in mindfulness, and running for a race tends to devalue that experience.

Robustonium: an element found in the bone that determines a person’s grit and longevity in response to a hostile world. As my recent visits to the ER have reminded me, my time in this life is limited. My experience tells me that training to race means I’m burning my robustonium not gathering more to me. This has got to be a lifestyle change that makes me stronger.

A Call for Help

Add to the above that my best friend just asked me for some help. He’s got some of his own challenges and goals, but there’s plenty of synchronicity. So yeah, I want to be there for him as much as making these changes for myself. It’s just a kind of kismet that we’re looking to make similar improvements at about the same time.

The Plan

I’m already back on the Primal Endurance program. My diet is pretty much grain-free already, but I’ll have to work at eliminating brown rice from the mix. Add to this that I’ve been running at a low-intensity rate on a five to six-day routine while using work in my garden to add explosive core strength “workouts” into the mix. All of this is governed by my heart rate as I pursue efficient Aerobic base building over an eight week period. My Garmin VivoSmart HR+ sits on my wrist and vibrates whenever I’m overdoing it, and I’m responding and slowing down when it does. Sleep remains a challenge, but I’ve made some profound changes in my sleep hygiene habits and with the exertion of exercise I’ve actually been doing pretty well.

I’m encouraging my friend to take similar steps in this direction too. Just knowing that there’s someone else out there suffering through the first month of metabolic fat-adaptation or sweating up a hill seems to help me mentally.

Finally, I just ordered some more parts for my van. A pair of *new* transmission mounts, the old ones are all cracked and need to be replaced before I kill the transmission. That travel bullet needs some attention too. Yes, there are a lot of things that I need to take care of on my van and I’m going to address these systematically so that as my abilities return to me I can reach the high country trails.

 

Weight

I’m sitting at my desk right now covered in a glossy glaze of my own perspiration. It’s been quite a long time since I’ve felt this way. Hungry, bordering on ravenous. Tired, a fatigue has set into my legs and arms. My chest still feels the burn of a prolonged struggle for air. And happy, a curious sensation that manages to exceed mere contentment. I just went for a “run.”

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My activity feed on Strava shows me that the last time I went and did this, with purpose, was early July of last year. In the intervening near-year, I’ve been seen at the ER a handful of times. Made near constant pilgrimage to a variety of doctors, including neurological specialists. Had my head scanned. My abdomen probed. My fat ass weighed. And from this, I’ve received a singular meaningful diagnosis. One that I could have probably figured out on my own had I just hit the trail.

“You don’t work well,” is a pretty good if somewhat broad summary of FND. Context being the missing component of that review. I don’t believe that I’m a particularly misanthropic person. In fact, I like most of you and even love a few of you. That said, when I’m around you all for too long there is this sensation of weight that sort of builds up on the back of my neck. I can’t shake it. Eventually, you’ll see me at the coffee shop and wanting to hang out with that nice guy you met once you’ll great me. I’ll trip all over myself, saturated in self-consciousness that makes my throat tighten and turns my words into an aphasic mess. Often, it feels like it gets worse as we chat. Eventually, I’ll slink off to my castle on this island where I can be alone.

Last night I got a call from my Cousin Chad who suggested that I just go for a walk. Chad, I did. And while I’m not cured I can feel some small fraction of the weight I’ve taken on lifting.

Top Five for Hiking with a Six Year Old

I think, if it were possible to write a guide about how to get *any* six-year-old out on the trail with a minimum of hassle or complaint, I would have already written the definitive tome. This activity, as we all know, requires subtlety and nuance; you’ve got to have the right touch at the right time in order to make it happen. Success is fleeting, but I’m here to tell you that getting to the point where your kid finishes a hike and immediately asks when the next one is going to be is possible.

That said, here are my top five suggestions (I won’t say “rules” because then they’ll just get bent and become useless) for taking your favorite child on the trail.

1) Set Reachable Expectations

Understand your kiddo. Figure out what motivates them and then use this as a carrot to propel them along your chosen path, sure. That’s good advice, but learn to set expectations with your kids too.

My six-year-old likes to know what’s coming. The expectation is that I will choose interesting trails for him to hike and let him know some of the things he can expect to see and experience along the way. In return, he knows that I expect that he’ll have a good time, exercise his curiosity and learn without whining. All this is reachable.

Neither of us expects the other to do more than we’re able. In his case, I can’t demand he hikes a 25-mile day with a pack (not yet anyway). In my case, AralBear understands that I can only endure so much slowness before I crack. We’re honest about how we’re feeling and performing too, without being judgy, which means that we’re staying ahead of those acute moments where burgeoning hikers become couch potatoes.

2) Good Boots, Better Socks

AralBear has a couple of different pairs of shoes that are hiking capable: a sturdy set of Keen’s and now a pair of Vasque boots which protect and support his ankles. The problem with the former is that the tread is meh on snow fields and in the mud. Additionally, they’re not waterproof. They’re great for shorter, dry distances but when we’re stretching our distances beyond three or four miles they’re worthless.

Enter the need for the Vasque boots. These dandies have thick lugs, are waterproof, and I haven’t heard a peep about his feet hurting since getting them. Maybe they fit a little better, maybe they’re just that much more comfortable.

Or maybe (and this is where I’m putting my money) the new socks I got to go with the boots are entirely responsible for the improvement in his experience. Ever since an early season hike we went on where his feet got wet, I’ve been buying him a couple of pairs of really nice hiking weight socks a month. Now I carry a spare pair for both of us (and I carry them because I don’t want the spares to become wet or dirty on accident). On long days, if he starts to complain, I usually insist that we sit down and take our shoes off. I’ll have him switch out socks after a quick blister check and a snack, and then I hang his dirties on my pack to sunbake for a bit. We’ve always been able to get back at it without further problems.

3) Change the Narrative

“How much further?” or “When will we get there?” or the fatal “I can’t do this. I hate you forever.” Add to the list your favorite excuses for not being able to finish a trail, mount a series of switchbacks or and acute and undying need to turn-around-now-yes-right-now-before-I-lay-down-on-the-trails-of-throw-an-unholy-devil-fit-Dad-why-are-you-so-mean.

Adults do this too, but kids, man, they can really invent some amazingly rich narratives. Add a little pain to the mix and you’d think that they were trudging toward an icy Channel swim before an invading Nazi army.

My advice is learn to help them take control of their narrative. Arrest those negative thought patterns as early as you can, confront them with some reality, then provide some suggestions for alternative lines of thinking.

With my eldest, I wasn’t very good at this and ultimately I paid for my own deficit. With AralBear I’m very conscious of the tone and tenor of what he says when we hike. “Dad, my feet hurt.”

Okay, I buy that, but what can you do to change the narrative? “Try using these rocks to massage your feet as you walk. That’s it, roll your feet over each of them and feel the stretch in your arch and heel. Work those toes. Can you feel it?”

“Yeah Dad, I feel it!”

Help the pick the lens they’ll use to look at the world around them.

4) Channel Patience

Sometimes, I’ve got to yell “Hey, don’t go further than you can see me.” Sometimes.

Most other times, AralBear’s pace is somewhere behind mine. He’s got things to do and see. That means I’ve got to wait.

Forty-year-old Matt is orders of magnitude more patient than twenty or even thirty-something Matt ever could have hoped to be. He watches at the six-year-old Aral is doing and saying (especially when he stops to beatbox … go figure).

Point being, patience is your friend. Get comfortable with it and you’ll be living on six-year-old time.

5) Be Picky About Friends

This is a tough one, of the five, the toughest in my opinion. Of AralBear’s array of friends, however, there’s only a handful I’d like to take with us on a hike.

First, it’s difficult to impossible to apply the first four rules-of-thumb to other people’s kids. I can’t afford to shoe the world with good boots (and socks) and when I attempt to help an unknown kid change his or her narrative I’m increasingly likely to be met with the OMG old man eye-roll.

Perhaps, most importantly, if you allow the wrong kid to come along you’re tainting your hiking ecosystem. To be clear, when I speak of hiking with a kid, I’m talking about the cultivation of a precariously balanced mental garden. Keeping your rose standing up tall in the sunshine can be difficult on its own, but let another flower into your garden and you’re likely going to watch both of them wilt.

That’s not to say you can’t have outside kids come. I’ve had some great times with other-people’s-kids along for the trek, but, I’ve also learned that it’s important to understand what these boys and girls bring to the trail.

Secret Plans

I just answered the leader of my local writing group with this current description of my state of being. “Shocked, rudderless, angry, and feeling very solitary.” Up until I met with a physician yesterday I thought I might be coming down with a case of cancer, now that seems less likely, but yeah, still riding on my raw nerves.

And there are the election results, or should I say, then there is the expected Electoral College results. Mixed into that all the ridiculous and regressive ideas that have plagued our nation and held us back for so long. The result, I’ve lost skin, I feel flayed.

My friend Jefe recently posted this personal account of some of his troubles and it’s got me thinking. This is the same Jefe that has held the CTR course record since I started following the race and the same Jefe who has taken home top honors on the GDMBR too. Point is, the guy is a machine that gobbles up the miles and he’s always sort of been someone I look up to. But just like me, he’s recently encountered some challenges.

This present state of less than 100% has kicked my ass. Mentally it has crushed me. The past few months I feel like I have been pulling back on everything that has made me tick in the past. The passion for riding, racing and pushing boundaries has been so instrumental in keeping me moving forward, staying positive, and focused, has been subdued.

Since the seizures started. That’s the point I started to pull back, now every little twinge in my body gets treated a catastrophic sinkhole on the road to my health goals. And this messes with me, regardless of if I admit it to myself or not.

Add to this that my goals are somewhat divided. Often my responsibilities and my desires compete for my time and motivation. Balance is just a myth, a story we tell ourselves before we collapse into bed at night.

RAID Runner in Training

Here’s the deal, I’m never fully alive, never completely as mindful and living in the moment as when I’m trotting along some trail. I need to feel my heart pounding in my chest sometimes. I want to suck in chilly morning air that bites the insides of my nostrils. This is the way it’s always been.

The harsh reality I’m faced with is that I have very localized responsibilities. Kids, house, an aging dog, and now a need to develop our family’s independent sustainability for the impending doom of the Presidential shit-show consuming the country.

Since September I’ve been working on a slow comeback. I’m gotten religious about my Primal Endurance. I’ve been working with a coach as if I was new to the practice of running. I see my physical therapist regularly. I’ve lost weight, regained flexibility and swimming around the back of my mind is a long list of goals and ideas for places to go, things to see, races to enter, and trails to run.

Truth be told, I’m a long way away from racing or record fitness, but the motivation is still there. Besides, “winning” has never really been what it’s about.

But I can get out there, where I’m happy. I can run my butt off, run until there aren’t any more worries. I can be glad I can run at all.