When Things Fall Apart: Fitness Goals and Life

Lately I’ve been slipping a bit with my exercise and health practices, and even writing this blog. It reminded me of When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times, a book by American Buddhist nun Pema Chodron. I can’t recommend it because I’ve never read it; it’s sitting in a box in storage. At one point I may have even owned two copies. But the title speaks to me now after a mostly pretty shitty day and last few weeks. Even within the Tibetan Shambhala community, things fall apart. As with many religious, business, and entertainment leaders with unchecked power, last year their figurehead was accused of and apologized for sexual misconduct. It went on a while, but he’s still there.

However, reports suggest that Chodron as a senior leader and teacher may have enabled or ignored it. She even told a woman reporting abuse years ago that she didn’t believe her. So she’s not perfect, and she has resigned in protest but maybe also as an act of contrition although she wasn’t the abusive male with all the power. Point is, life doesn’t always or even often go the way we want it to. Defecation passes. We’re all humans here, right? Certainly there are more important things than fitness goals, but like the saying goes, “At least you have your health.” Well, what if you don’t, despite your best efforts? I guess you do your best.

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Cyclist with an Injury Problem, or Injured with a Cycling Problem?

The body is wise. It will tell you when it needs to eat, sleep, evacuate, and stream the latest cool show. The trouble is we — our brains, minds, egos — often ignore these signals. We’ll skip breakfast, or have second helpings when we’re really just thirsty. Instead of a nap, we’ll drink caffeine to power through the afternoon lull. We stay up late looking at our blue light screens, not go to bed early. The unhealthy, too early start to the school day, working late or the swing shift, fitful sleep nights with a new baby, hospital helicopters, asshole dogs — we’re constantly bombarded by noise during what should be our restful hours. We’ll push through a workout because of the intense societal pressure to be thin and stigma against fat people — even though we’re the majority! No wonder so many people, at least in urban areas, are out of rhythm. The world keeps spinning, as do I with my legs and wheels. Inertia is not a good option, injured or not.

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A Walking Dude: The World Outside

Walking is to exercise what the insurance is to business: pretty damn boring, but it’s actually pretty beneficial. I’ve been at it 30 minutes every day since 1/1/2018 (minus a couple days, which I more than made up for). It turns out that walking doesn’t have to be, um, lame. Because there’s usually one or more of the following: something new to see, errands to run, people to chat up, music to listen to, or thoughts to think. You don’t need a gym membership, a swimming pool, a tennis/basketball court or soccer/baseball/football field, or a bicycle. Except for some good shoes, which can cost a bundle, there’s little money involved. For those of us fortunate to still be mostly able-bodied, it’s the easiest, most accessible, and reliable health habit we can do. So why don’t more people do it?

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The Heart of the Matter

It was the end of a cool autumn day, and I was sitting on my yoga mat. I thought back to the morning (albeit late morning); my ablutions were complete and I got out on my daily constitutional. (That means walk for those not in the American South.) Walking is good for the heart, I thought, and then I remembered that I was supposed to have some heart tests this year. They were too expensive without insurance, so I didn’t have the tests. What with the pandemic and not getting younger, I’ve been wrestling with the beast that is U.S. health insurance (and losing). So after my walk, I read some stuff on the internet and called some people.

On one of those calls, I got some bad news from a friend, a colleague, really. They were pretty ill, but getting through it. Although I wasn’t raised to pray to a deity, this person was and has a good heart; I’ve always admired their sunny disposition. I’ve also known some Quakers and always appreciated their practice of sitting in silence, and their concept of “holding someone in the light.” So tonight after my bike ride and daily yoga, I flipped my Insight Meditation Timer app over to meditate and chose a five-minute one about compassion in honor of my friend. Usually I wait until I’m hitting the hay to meditate, so I tend to pass out before it’s done, or it doesn’t make much of an impact. Today, for some reason, it stuck with me.

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611.8 Miles in November 2020. Oh Yeah: 5,999.9 Miles in 11 Months of 2020!

Penultimate. I used to think that meant a really great writing instrument. (Actually, I didn’t; I just made up that pun right now.) Anyway, November has ended, and December has begun. Eleven months down, one to go. I’ve already surpassed the number of miles from my second longest year, the first one I kept records. That was 5,306 miles in 2016, and now I’m on the cusp of 6,000 miles for 2020. Since I’ve already achieved my huge goal of the equivalent of once around the equator (24,901 miles), anything else is gravy. Yummmm…. gravy. Anyway, here’s a short review of my statistics from last month.

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The Coronacles of Blarneya, Part II

Back when the coronavirus which becomes the disease COVID-19 pandemic was just six weeks old (the length of the lockdown in Austin, Texas), I wrote Part I of this title. If you were here for that long, rambling and meandering post (or go read It now), you may recall a sense of aimless wandering. You might have been right about that. In many ways, we as a human race were doing that long before this outbreak. Now we are clearly fumbling our way through this waking nightmare, bad movie, or really, just stark reality. So as the band War sang,

Take a little trip, take a little trip
Take a little trip and see
Take a little trip, take a little trip
Take a little trip with me

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My Own Private I Dunno

I’m feeling a bit philosophical about having just finished bicycling the equivalent of one spin around the entire equator. It was no small feat, taking almost five whole years including rest days. After such an epic, long-term, half a decade of riding my bicycle, the question I get asked, and am naturally asking myself, is: What comes next? I dunno. But maybe I can begin to try to figure out an answer here.

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AROUND THE WORLD IN 1,770 DAYS (24,901 MILES): 5-YEAR GOAL ACCOMPLISHED !!!

*NEWER POSTS ARE BELOW.* Yes. I did it. I finally finished the equivalent of bicycling one lap of Planet Earth at the equator. Pretty awesome, if you ask me. Or even if you didn’t ask. Let me tell you about it. You’re already here, right? May as well keep reading. It’s a lot easier than biking around the world, I can assure you of that!

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Approaching the Summit of a Goal? Prepare for the Ride Downhill

As with most if not all of my posts, I’m writing it because I think it might help others in some small way. But I’m a work in progress also trying to figure things out myself. This comes after 2.75 years of daily walking and  writing, 4.75 years of blogging, 5.75 years of a whole bunch of bicycling and almost 1.00 year of daily biking, plus 6.75 years of daily yoga. So I know a thing or two about my own sports psychology. (I’m no professional though, so see a real doctor if you need one.) As I approach the zenith of several goals, one quite big, another that’s Huge, and a third that’s FREAKING GINORMOUS, I know that there’s a big zenith of a let-down coming, too. So let’s talk about what we can do about when that happens.

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Moving A Dude’s Abode and Body: A Buddhist View

It was moving day. Again. Or days, rather, because who would I ask to help in these times? As a perpetually underpaid and underemployed renter in high-priced Austin, Texas, when my lease is up, it’s time to move on. And these days have been hot ones, too. On the thermometer it was 93 — tying the record. With high humidity it felt much hotter, 101, which is a lot for early May. The average high is 10 degrees cooler, at 89. I feel both the burns, from sun and in the muscles. But importantly, I still got some stuff moved. And moving my abode and my body as much as I do are worth some rumination.

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