I’ve listened to 52 albums so far this year for the Rock Music Big Year. How many of them coincide with Stereogum’s top 50? Only 8!
It has slowly dawned on me that 2016’s Jogging Big Year was one monster beneficial virtuous circle. At the time, I grizzled but shouldn’t I have celebrated instead? Plentiful exercise, sensible weight, a grooved routine . . . why wasn’t I satisfied?
A key element was Michael Mosley’s 5:2 diet, which I stuck to for half the year or longer. Two days each week on a quarter of normal calories, five days of eating freedom . . . Mosley’s notion suits my personality and worked well for me.
Yesterday was my first fasting day in 2017, part imposition, part return to normality.
Bedlam this week . . . so many thrilling work choices that my mind cannot rest.
After an early jog (overriding my Writing Big Year stipulation of nothing but writing), I’ll bundle up Chapter 6’s data and head to Bar Ristretto.
Imagine the shock. Over 80 kilograms for the first time since 2015! During last year, the Jogging Big Year, I averaged 76 to 77 kilograms and I had four months under 76. Remote hiking helped – returning from five days eating dehydrated food always led to weight loss.
The funny thing was, for the first two months of this year, the scales showed only slight increases, as if the body was still used to the 2016 regimen. I was just under 78 in March and April, and heading towards 79 in May. Suddenly I was trapped in an inglorious cycle.
Every extra kilogram feels like five on the track. Time for action . . .
How fascinating: Chris DeVille’s Stereogum article “Thom Yorke responds to controversy over Radiohead’s Israel concert.” It’s easy to dismiss this kind of kerfuffle as the Bono syndrome – rich rock stars making little difference – but the issues are delineated very sharply here. The many comments are also, for once, welcome. Can anyone remember the issue of Billy Joel, etc. going to the Soviet Union way back then? I recall similar considerations: which is better, boycott or engagement?
Don’t read me wrong. I love my newfound cycling and still have huge, if gradual, aims for it, and I do recognize that people keep cycling to later ages than they keep running.
Yet there is something about jogging, something reflecting its difficulty and pain, that might be even more precious. For sure running is tops for cardio and I’m told it’s also the best for bone density. But beyond such bland “what’s good for you” arguments, arguments that never really motivate, I reckon something existential lies at the heart of why runners run. Perhaps all runners know this. Using every part of the body, interacting with the world by pounding on it, striving against inbuilt laziness . . . isn’t that grand?
So as I recover from minor injury, I’m thinking anew about combining cycling acclimatization with retaining a “proper” running regime (which I associate with last year’s four 10 km runs a week). I know that means spending more time exercising, and I know this year’s writing pressures sent me back the other way, resisting longer hours and shying from exercising twice a day, but where I am now – suddenly less fit than I have been for years – is not the answer.
This Big Year seemed simple. Attend to exercising daily. Take up cycling, aiming for quite a few kilometers over the year, but maintain some jogging and do a little gym work. I wondered, early in the year, whether adding cycling to my regimen would aid overall fitness.
Here’s what happened. For equivalent “exercise value,” I knew I’d need to cycle more hours than I typically jogged. After an initial terrible jogging period, all went well for a while but then writing work pressures told on me, and I dialled down my cycles to just one hour. So yes, I did maintain the daily commitment to exercise but now the effort, over an entire week, was less than last year. My weight stacked up. I skipped a few days (work whinging). The left hamstring went on what was just a short jog. I kept up light gym work and minimal cycling but a spiral of doom had begun, I could see.
Yesterday I flaunted my Writing Big Year rules and headed to the river just after dawn. The body felt unfamiliar. I was not me anymore. How had this happened? A mist shrouded the track, joggers and cyclists aplenty.
A few days earlier, I’d only managed 2 kms on the tender hamstring, so now I aimed for 4 kms. I’ve lost winter conditioning and had rugged up with too many clothes, so two kilometers down the path, I was drenched in sweat, but you know what? It felt great and I kept going, turning around after 3 kms and lurching homeward. The final uphill felt sweet. 6 kms at a deadly slow 6:45 mins/km . . . heaven!
After a Sydney week doing the right stuff, how easy for Melbourne work blues to strike. I’m on a tram, drained from slaving away on website/blog matters. Drawing strength from the pleasure of hearing three languages around me, I try a little Headspace-without-the-app. I’m hefting a bottle of red and my rock music contributions for the evening: Guided by Voice, Julia Jacklin and Mount Eerie. Three more different artists would be hard to conjure up and that thought raises a smile.
I alight and pad through the streets of Richmond. The path to Steady tonight: relax and prime body and mind for a prompt launch tomorrow morning early.