Just Another Day at the Office – Part 3

It’s been a loooonnnngggg time since I last wrote my “regular” blog post of Just Another Day at the Office.  Lots of things have come up along the way like family graduations, retirements, relocations and home building. Not that I am offering these as excuses really. I only mention them so you don’t think I have sat around just watching the days go by.

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A walk in the clouds (view from our back deck)

The area in which we chose to build our dream home borders a natural conservancy in The Creeks area of Kelowna, British Columbia.  Basically 5 minutes from our door step we walk into 400+ hectares of protected nature/wildlife reserve.  Cedar Mountain was the original name of this park prior to the receipt of a large private land donation in 2013. Its original name came from the Western Red Cedar tree that was the dominate form of vegetation in the park. Originally the park boundaries put it at approximately 80 hectares, and it was already considered a large park. Back in 2003, the park and surrounding area was devastated by a wildfire. DSC_0107_3Basically no trees survived the intense heat of the fire and although Mother Nature’s regeneration has been underway for some time now it will take generations before it gets to its former glory.

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Up above the clouds

In 2013, the park expanded by way of a private land donation from the Johns Family of Kelowna. The added private donation of 323 hectares to the existing 80 hectares brought the size of the park up to the 403 hectares the public can enjoy today. Due to the significant size of the donation, the park was renamed to The Johns Family Nature Conservancy Regional Park to honour them and respect their wishes of preserving the area in its natural state. Hiking up the 2500 feet in elevation for the first time, I couldn’t help but wonder what would be around the next corner??  Well it always seemed to turn out that it was just another corner and so the hike continued. The relatively short hike is quite easy but does involve a steep climb towards the viewpoint near the end of the path.

DSC_0106_3The area does have natural hazards due to the fire however charred timber was removed from the trail to make it more user-friendly. I didn’t realize that one of the natural hazards we would come across would be in the form of an extremely excited golden retriever puppy (a big one!). Now just to back up a bit, I have this fear of walking in the mountains by our place because I worry about bears and cougars as there are many of them around.  My wife and I walk together but have no protection of any kind with us should we come across any of the “warm bodied hazards”. We were in a dense mist/fog for sections of our hike, so my senses were already being taxed. During our hike we had this friendly dog run up on us stealthily from behind and scare the jeepers out of us. DSC_0108_3I couldn’t help but think that if I couldn’t hear this dog who wasn’t trying to be quiet, how would I ever hear the cougar that may be stalking us as we walk? What made this chance encounter even more unnerving was this pup had a very strong physical attraction to my left leg.  He ran right past my wife, mounted my left leg in one single motion and began to have carnal relations with my thigh!!! This without even having taken me for dinner or bought me flowers!  Anyway, I was having nothing to do with this, so I pried him off, patted him on the head, and sent him on his way…..where were the owners? …no doubt on the trail directly below us, probably enjoying their alone time.

DSC_0117_4Once you get to the top of the trail you are treated to a spectacular 180 degree view of the Okanagan Lake 2500 feet below you. The views from this vantage point really are worth the hike and we really enjoyed ourselves. Spring can’t come soon enough so we can continue to explore nature’s doorstep, just minutes from our own doorstep. Today’s “Bloggin in the Okanagan” really was just another day at the office.  If you enjoyed this post (or didn’t), have questions, etc. I would love to hear from you. Feel free to rate my posts with the stars at the bottom of the page.  I appreciate it!

Cheers!

 

 

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Happy = Healthy

Dear Diary,

Today I am smiling for many reasons.  I have officially welcomed my 4th month of being retired, I have the love of “the” most extraordinary woman, and have two wonderful kids.  In addition to this, there are still many more reasons to be happy and grinning ear to ear. Spring is here in Calgary and the last traces of ice have disappeared from the parks and pathways.  The wildlife are all out and about settling down for a busy spring of welcoming their new babies into the world and raising their families.

From what I have been reading, just “feeling” happy may be the secret to our own lifelong fitness success in addition to improving our well-being. There has been some new research published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal that establishes a link between people who try to enjoy life to the fullest and improved overall health.  Researchers go on to say that worrying less may also protect us from the harmful effects of stress hormones. Did you know that feeling down in the dumps on a regular basis puts you at a three times greater risk for developing physical problems later on in life?  This certainly supports the notion of finding something you love and just doing it.  A happy mind is a healthy one….. so put a smile on your face…. it’s good for you and can be infectious to people around you.

Does exercise hurt? If not, tell that to my feet.

In a past post I spent a bit of time debating the merits of floating as a runner vs. bouncing as a jogger.  Well I was actually making fun of joggers really but sometimes they make it so easy.  Sort of like all the cyclists out there in their “look at me” outfits (code name for head to toe fluorescent spandex).  In the last few weeks it has been warming up outside and we have had some incredibly beautiful mornings.  With this feeling of spring I have had hankering to get out of the gym rat race and out into the fresh air.  The pathways around my place have still had some ice on them so rather than donning my running shoes I have opted for a pair of hikers with a bit more support and tread on them.

I have been doing a lot of reading lately on the merits of walking compared to running.  With the exception of calories burned, walking is as good for you as running.  When you walk, however, there is minimal impact on your muscles and joints.  This allows you to go further and keep yourself up in your cardio/fat burning zone for an extended period of time.  For me this is a good thing as I am working hard to increase my endurance and still drop a few pounds.  What I didn’t realize is that although you use many of the same major muscle groups walking or running, it seems like they may be used in “different” ways…. or so my feet tell me.

There are 26 different bones in the human foot that make up 1/4 of all the bones in your body. I know this partly because I googled it and partly because after walking 10 kilometers a day, every day, over the last couple weeks I feel every one of them! It seems I am discovering and feeling things I have never had to in the past.  If you are a step counter 10 kilometers is the equivalent of approximately 11,500 steps depending on your stride length.  There are also more than 100 muscles, tendons and ligaments in my feet.  I think I have felt all of them the last week or so.

Our feet also have 33 joints of which 20 are actively articulated when running or walking.  I think that switching from my regular runners with all their padding and support to my hikers may have contributed to some of the discomfort I have been feeling.  I think that the pace of a speed walk vs. an all out run forces us to use the same muscle groups but perhaps in a slightly different way.  I have noticed that behind my knees and my hamstrings have been quite sore and after my first couple of long walks I had to ice them and also use heat to help settle things down.

Part of this discomfort was also exacerbated by my lack of flexibility. I remember years ago I had my flexibility evaluated and the trainer advised me I was in the 6th percentile.  I thought this was great in that I was more flexible than 94% of men my age.  Boy I was NOT happy when he clarified for me that 94 of men my age were more flexible than me and not the other way around. Mental note: spend more time stretching during my warm up and cool down.

Over the past week or so I have tried to decrease my distance and pace a bit as well as remembering to get some breaks every few days.  I have also tried varying my footwear between the hikers and my normal runners.  This seems to have helped a bit.

I have learned that exercising really shouldn’t hurt but perhaps overdoing it might.  Everything in moderation I guess!

Cheers!

Do you float or do you bounce?

My Dad, Circa 1980 - Finish line of his fifth marathon with a time of 3hrs 14mins and 5 secs.

For years now (as many as I can remember) I have always enjoyed a heated and often contested discussion with different people as to whether they bounce or whether they float.  Often I get all kinds of screwed up looks until I clarify myself.  I go on to explain that some people run and some jog.  Runners “float” and joggers “bounce”.  The American author and marathon runner John Bingham has a great quote – “If you run, you are a runner.  It doesn’t matter how fast or how far. It doesn’t matter if today is your first day or if you’ve been running for twenty years.  There is no test to pass, no license to earn, no membership card to get.  You just run.”

My father, who is one of the most prolific and dedicated runners on this planet, always told me he floats when running and would never lower his standards and allow himself to bounce.  Well he didn’t quite put it that way but he was very clear on the floating part.  He would go on to say that next time I saw a runner or a jogger to look at the top of their head as they go by, and that the runner’s head would stay almost stationary while a jogger’s head would look like a new-born baby and be all over the place.

It is primarily due to his teaching and influence on me I have always declared myself as a runner and a floating one at that …this even though there have been times I moved at so slow a pace that I almost passed myself on the pathways.  I am working on my endurance a great deal now and putting in the time and patience to improve.  I can say I am getting better and in just three short months I have improved from barely being able to complete a 3 mile run to being able to pretty well hit 6 miles now.

Getting back to the original topic of debate, I decided to consult a few official bodies of work in search of some form of official definitions. According to Wikipedia – “Jogging is a form of trotting or running at a slow or leisurely pace.  The main intention is to increase physical fitness with less stress on the body than from faster running, or to maintain a steady speed for longer periods of time”. The Urban Dictionary – defines a “jogger” as “someone who is obsessed with jogging, usually found in parks or rural roads in early morning. They’ve also developed an acute sense of discovering corpses in the vicinity”.  I have to say that if I had been drinking anything when I read the Urban Dictionary reference I would have spewed liquid all over my new laptop.  I especially liked the part about being obsessed park dwellers in search of corpses. I did not, however, find any reference to bouncing up and down as they moved obsessively through parks and rural roads.

By contrast, Wikipedia defines “Running” as “a method of terrestrial locomotion allowing humans and other animals to move rapidly on foot.  Running is a type of gait characterized by an aerial phase in which all feet are above the ground”. The Urban Dictionary – defines “running” as the physical act of, basically, moving your feet in a fast rhythmic motion to propel yourself forward at a greater speed than if you were a walking or jogging. I know, you are wondering if it really said “terrestrial” but I can assure you it does.  This definition seems to support my Dad’s claim that runners do float due to the aerial phase when both feet are off the ground!  Even Chris Angel and David Blaine would support this theory but may refer to it as levitation while propelling themselves forward.

The Oxford Dictionaries – defines “joggersas loose trousers made of a stretchy fabric and typically elasticated at the waist and ankles, worn especially for jogging. I have included this definition just as an aside because it too was quite humorous when I think of all the outfits you see when you are out on the Calgary pathways putting in miles. It seems to suggest also that “joggers” (people who jog) also do not have a highly developed fashion sense unlike their close relative the runner!  Runners wear brightly coloured spandex from head to toe in order that they keep all jiggly parts safely tucked away as well as to cut down on wind resistance. These brightly coloured outfits also make it easier to see your friends or running partners at the local Starbucks for your post run Americano! (Venti no room)

So in conclusion, I have to say it is crystal clear and proves once again that “Fathers know best”.  I can say that too because I am also a father and feel I am right all the time! Of course ALL comments and feedback are welcome on this important and science based topic. 🙂

 

Just Another Day at the Office – Episode One

They say that variety is the spice of life.  Yes, I know this is a cliché and probably one of the more used ones for obvious reasons.  But do we always follow this and use it to help guide our everyday lives?  The McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs provides a simply put definition as – “you should try many different kinds of experiences, because trying different things keeps life interesting”.   I believe that this excellent “life” advice and can be translated directly into our active and healthy lifestyles.  Keeping things fresh,  new and different makes the challenge of keeping active enjoyable.  Yes, even lots of fun!

Griffin Woods - Calgary March 2015
Griffith Woods Park – Calgary March 2015

When I retired I made a personal promise to keep myself very active and get into the very best shape of my life.  This was and still is a personal goal and one that I am taking very seriously.  I can tell you it has been a bit of a shock to my system to say the least.  For years I spent significant amounts of time running the gauntlet of cubicle farms, sitting in meetings, and moving from floor to floor doing my job.  Now my job is me!

Just this week we had a wonderful sunny day her in Calgary – not too hot or too cold.  Just a great day to get out and get some fresh air.  My Fiancé and I decided to go for a hike and take in some of the weather. My apologies go out to anyone out there who is sick of snow and winter.  On this day I think the snow and cool air just added to how wonderful it was getting out there and moving.  Water was running in the creek and there was lots of wildlife around, including me.  The great wild Canadian Retiree, without the horns of course.

On a regular basis I am going to try lots of different things and share them under the heading of “just another day at the office”.  After all,  this is my NEW office. I constantly remind my self, I don’t “have to” do this……I “GET” to….

Cheers!