Category Archives: Health

How To Get Over a Leg Injury: Claudia Mahler Style

Step 1: Give injured leg two days of rest.

Step 2: Continue to walk 15 miles a day on injured leg, ignoring pain that is actually quite severe.

Step 3: Shun doctors.

Step 4: Shun the pain. Walk through it.

Step 5: Occasionally push it too far and re-injure it a little bit.

Step 6: Repeat steps 2 through 5.

Step 7: It gets better (mostly?) eventually, so be proud of your completely irresponsible healing technique.

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HEY LEG:

GET BETTER

MY STUPID LEG IS STUPID

FUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUCK.

I hurt my leg again. Not nearly as badly as the first time, but I can definitely tell this is going to be a setback.

I was out walking this afternoon and, admittedly, was pushing things a bit, trying to get back to my old speed. Everything was going fine and then suddenly I felt this weird sensation followed by immediate sharp pain in the exact same part of my leg as the original injury.

Unlike the first time I hurt it, the pain subsided quite rapidly (the first time it just kept hurting VERY BADLY as I walked). However, I could feel mild pain and a lot of discomfort as I kept going.

That happened at like mile eight; I was able to finish the 15-mile walk, though my speed freaking tanked because I didn’t want to screw things up any more than I already had.

So yeah. This is incredibly frustrating. I felt like I was really making progress and things were finally starting to get back to normal…and now, just by walking, I manage to screw it up again.

Really, I shouldn’t complain too much as it’s definitely not as bad as it was the first time (and honestly, all it’s doing is knocking my speed back down to the point where it doesn’t hurt)…but I’m going to complain a little, because DAMMIT JUST HEAL ALREADY.

This might sound weird, but…

Sometimes I miss sleeping on a half-inflated aero bed on the floor.

Hear me out.

So for a good portion of my adult life, I haven’t had a legit bed. I had a “bed” in the Wallace dorm (I put quotes around it because it was really just some springs with, like, a small sheet of foam over top) and in McConnell, but once I moved in with the guys, I slept on an aero bed. I slept on the same aero bed in Vancouver until I punctured it on a door strike plate (if having internet in that garbage bag of a basement apartment meant switching my bedroom and living room, then I was going to switch away). Then I…um…

(slept on the deflated bed for like five months because depression is fun)

Got a new one in my new Vancouver apartment and slept on that until Tucson, where I slept on a thick piece of foam. Then, back in Moscow, I slept on a couch. And back on an aero bed in Calgary before moving in with Nate and finally having an actual bed.

Every once and a while, especially when it’s hella cold out like it’s been lately, I really miss crawling into the comforting cocoon of a half-deflated aero bed, wrapping like seven blankets around me, and just relaxing. Daydreaming. Hitting REM sleep as soon as my eyes close.*

Don’t get me wrong, having an actual factual bed is nice. But aero beds, man…

*Though I can do this anywhere. Ask Nate/my mom/anyone who’s sat near me in a plane/bus/car.

FUCK YOU, I’M A TURNIP

So I decided to plot my cumulative walking mileage for 2013, 2015, 2016, and 2017* to see if I tend to gain mileage at about the same rate despite the different yearly totals.

01-16-2018

Man, look at that total difference at the end of the year for 2013 vs. 2017. I hit 2013’s total mileage on April 8th in 2017.

Lawl, you can see July 2017.

Anyway. The gains look relatively similar across all years I suppose, huh?

*I’m not including my 2014 mileage because I can only find the data from the months I was in Calgary, not the whole year.

I CAN RUN!!!!

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

So the weather in Moscow today sucked (rain). I went to the UI Rec Center to do my walking because even four hours on a treadmill beats walking in rain.

I did 13 miles walking, and as I was doing so, I realized two things:

1. I had the treadmill set on 0 incline. Ever since I got hurt back in August, I’ve had to have the treadmill set at least at 1.5 incline, because this injury, whatever it is, is strange as hell, and a slightly inclined treadmill always resulted in less pain than a “flat” one. Not today. The flat felt good.

2. In fact, there was no pain. At all. I still get twinges every once in a while, especially when walking, but not today. No pain.

So I decided to stop the treadmill at 13 miles, change my pedometer stride from “walk” to “run,” and gave running a shot.

And it worked! Nothing broke/snapped/died. I ran two miles before deciding to stop before anything did break/snap/die.

In fact, as I sit here writing this, I’m pretty sure every part of my body except my injured leg is sore (probably from trying to compensate for it while running, haha).

So there’s that.

I’m going to try to take it slow—which is really difficult for me—but I will work back up to 10k. I will do more half marathons.

I will do my marathon.

Walking 2017

HAPPY NEW YEAR, BUTT-MONGERS!

So it has become my tradition that on the first day of the new year, I dedicate my blog post to reviewing the previous year’s walking mileage. And this one is particularly special to me, because I was able to set a new personal record for the number of miles walked in a year—a personal record that surpassed my previous personal record by more than 1,300 miles.

So let’s do it! Here are my walking stats for January 1, 2017 to December 31, 2017.

  • Total number of walks: 314
  • Total mileage: 5,100
  • Total number of steps: 11,130,160
  • Total calories burned: 367,250
  • Total walking time (minutes): 71,361.10 [that’s about 49.56 days]
  • Average speed (mph) per walk: 4.26

5,100 miles is approximately the (great circle) distance between Kyoto, Japan and Seattle, WA, or between Athens, Greece, and Cape Town, South Africa.

01-01-2018-a01-01-2018-b

That’s a serious distance, yo. That’s across the Pacific Ocean.

My goal was to walk 5,000 miles last year, and I managed to surpass that by 100 miles. That’s pretty cool.

I mean, this goal took some serious commitment. It might not seem like it was that big of a deal, but it really did take a lot of time, energy, pain, and persistence.

(Mostly pain.)

I walked 15+ miles in temperatures as low as -18 ℉ and as high as 96 ℉ (and shorter distances in temperatures as low as -29 ℉). I walked during serious wind. Serious snow. Serious rain. I walked when there were air quality warnings out because of the smoke during the summer. I walked when I really didn’t feel like it and would have much preferred staying home and being a lazy fart. I turned my feet into angry, gross callouses. Nearly every part of my body was in pain at some point or another due to all the walking. I was getting up at 4 AM to go on those longer 30-mile walks in the summer. Anyone who knows me knows that 4 AM is a bed time, not a “get up” time. I walked a maximum of 50 miles in one day in July. There were a good number of days where I spent more time walking than I did sleeping.

I really want to put this in perspective, because it was a lot of walking. If I had divided that 5,100 miles into daily walks, I would have had to walk 13.97 miles a day. Every single day. I obviously didn’t do that, but that’s what it breaks down to.

Same thing with the time commitment. I spent 49.56 days walking. That’s 49.56 24-hour periods. That’s a lot of time. 71,361.10 minutes is about 1,189.35 hours. Again, if I were to divide that equally across the 365 days of the year, that would be a time commitment of 3.26 hours a day. Every single day. That’s a big-ass time commitment. You can do a lot of things in 3.26 hours.

I’m sorry. I hope I don’t sound like I’m bragging, because I don’t want to brag. This was just a really big deal for me. You don’t spend 49.56 days doing something if it’s not a big deal for you.

Here’s the mileage breakdown by month and by day of the week.

01-01-2018-c01-01-2018-d

July was serious business.

One other thing I wanted to do: so as I’m sure you’re all aware because I won’t shut up about it, I mangled my quad (?) back in August while walking. I never went to the doctor because doctors are scary, so I actually don’t know what I did to it. But based on the amount of pain and how long it’s still taking to heal*, I’m just going to say that I tore the muscle.

But anyway, this really slowed down my walking speed (and still is, unfortunately). I was consistently around the 4.8, 4.9 MPH range in July and early August before I got hurt. I wanted to see how visible this injury was if I were to plot my MPH by walking date. So I did. Can you guess where the injury happened?

01-01-2018-e

Haha, wow. That’s super obvious (and super depressing). The speed appears to be gradually increasing again, but it’s taking way longer than I’d like to do so. I really hope I’ll be able to get back to my 4.9 MPH pace.

Anyway. I promised Nate and my mom that I wouldn’t try to beat this record of 5,100 miles for 2018 (I’ll also be teaching two classes this first semester, one of which is going to take a lot of prep since I’ve never taught it before), so I doubt I’ll even get close to that mileage again.

But I’m proud of the 5,100. It’s nice to know that I can do it.

*The healing process probably would have been faster if I hadn’t taken two days off after the injury and then went right back to daily 15-mile walks, but that’s how I roll.

Anosmia Adventures: Jelly Belly Edition

Heeeeeeeeeeey, Merry Christmas, people! Nate and I are down at his parents’ house in Crowsnest Pass. We did our present unwrapping earlier today, which afforded me yet another opportunity to see how weird anosmia can be sometimes.

Nate’s mom got a little package of Jelly Belly jellybeans. The package consisted of jellybeans in eight (I think?) different flavors. One of the flavors was “buttered popcorn,” so she tried that because it sounded weird.

And it apparently tasted freakishly like buttered popcorn.

Both Nate and his brother tried that flavor as well and confirmed a very distinct butter popcorn taste.

So I tried it, too.
It tasted like sugar.

I didn’t get any of that buttered popcorn flavor at all. In fact, all of the flavors (including coconut, blueberry, and green apple) tasted exactly the same to me: like sugar.

I don’t know what Jelly Belly uses to get their particular flavors, but it sure as hell ain’t something that a person’s taste buds alone can figure out.

Party time.

5,000 Miles Revisited

Sorry, but I want to talk about this some more.

I’m not proud of a lot of things I’ve done in my life. I’ve “accomplished” “things,” but none of them have really meant all that much, either to me or to others or to anyone.

But these 5,000 miles? I’m proud of it.

Listen. I am Captain Mediocrity when it comes to everything other than being 1) a stubborn bastard and 2) punishing my body because it’s a piece of trash. Walking 5,000 miles this year allowed me to combine both of these lovely talents.

While I will probably never see another year that was more ideal for achieving this goal than this one, there still were a lot of obstacles that tried their hardest to prevent said goal from being met. I had to stubbornly ignore or actively fight against these obstacles.

The main one was the weather. It was ridiculously cold at the beginning of this year (mainly in January and February). As in, “it’s dangerous to be outside for more than 10 minutes at a time” type of cold. There were a lot of painfully cold walks, one walk where I was sure I lost my toe inside my shoe due to frostbite, and a good number of days where I had to spend four hours on a treadmill to get my daily miles without dying in the cold.

Then the summer got ridiculously hot. “Ridiculously hot” for Calgary is like in the 80s, but when you’re walking 15 – 30 miles a day, that’s hot. I was getting up at 4:30 in the morning to go walking before the heat of the day set in and the sun hit its peak. 4:30 IN THE MORNING. THAT’S USUALLY WHEN I GO TO BED.

Not to mention the smoke from the wildfires. There were a decent number of days where I probably should not have been out walking for 4+ hours due to the air quality, but I did it anyway. Again: stubborn bastard + body punishment.

Another obstacle was time. A 15-mile walk takes me about 3.25 hours. A 30-mile walk takes me about 6.5 hours. That’s a big time commitment. I was able to do the 30-mile walks in July/early August when I wasn’t working, but the 15-mile walks were done year-round. And that time commitment doesn’t include “prep time” (getting dressed, taming my unruly monster of hair, putting on sunscreen or winter gear).

Seriously. Considering I walked 15 miles a day 6 days a week pretty consistently throughout the year, that’s a huge amount of my time spent on this goal. Even if you like doing something (and I love walking), reserving four hours for it every day is a big deal. It was like having 20-hour days most days in which to squeeze in everything else I had to do. Sleep was the thing that got sacrificed the most, I think.

A third obstacle? Physical limitations, I guess. During the first month of the near-daily 15-mile walks, my body was like OH GOD WHAT THE HELL, but then it got used to the extra work. It was fine for most of the year, too, but I noticed right around the beginning of November that it was really starting to affect me physically. I wasn’t tired per se, but I was getting pretty worn out. By that point, my body was like OKAY I GET IT YOU LIKE TO WALK CAN YOU PLEASE TONE IT DOWN NOW?

And then, of course, there was the injury. I’m not sure if this was actually caused by all the 30-mile walks in July/August or if it just happened to be one bad misstep that messed something up in there. Hell, I still don’t know exactly what I did to my leg because I hate going to the doctor, but I do know that it still hurts more than I was hoping it would this far out from the actual incident. My guess is that I tore a muscle. I’ve never had any sort of physical injury like this, so I have nothing against which to gauge its severity, but I can’t imagine a strain or a sprain or anything like that hurting as much and as long as this has. I just know it’s not my knee. And I am very grateful that it’s not my knee. But I didn’t let it stop me. I walked through a lot of pain right after I hurt it so that I wouldn’t get behind on my mileage. But I do want it to get better. I hate walking as slowly as I currently am and I really miss running. I suppose I could, you know, do the smart person thing and rest it once this year is over.

Anyway. Sorry. I don’t mean to brag or any of that kind of crap. I’m just glad I was able to make this goal. This goal has been the only thing that’s kept me going at some points in this year.

 

FIVE. THOUSAND. MILES.

I did it, yo.

I hit 5,000 miles walked for the year.

I did it.

This goal has been work. This goal has been all-consuming, especially in the second half of the year when I really got serious about it. This goal has been very physically demanding at times. This goal led to an injury that I’m still freaking dealing with even though it happened back in August.

But it’s all been worth it. Because now I can say I’ve accomplished my goal. 5,000 miles in a year. How many people can say they’ve walked 5,000 miles in a year? It took me 356 days to do it…that’s an average of a little over 14 miles a day. Every day. That’s a lot.

Sorry for going on about this so long, but I usually fail at everything I try to do, so accomplishing this one goal, even though it is kinda stupid, means a lot to me.

Let’s see how many more miles I can get by the end of the year.

IT’S GOING TO HAPPEN

TOMORROW I WILL HIT 5,000 MILES

(assuming I don’t, you know, die in my sleep tonight)

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAA

OOPS, THERE GOES MY TOENAIL

Remember back in July when I posted that picture of my wonky toenail? A reminder:

12-20-2017

Well, today it finally fell off. Kinda.

I was walking earlier and felt something in my sock. This is not unusual; I’m always adopting little rock friends in my socks as I walk.

But when I got home and took off my shoes and socks, HEY LOOK, A TOENAIL!

Sorta.

The black toenail from the above picture just kind of held on to my toe while another better toenail grew beneath it. The black part is what finally fell off in my sock. Still have the good part, though.

(It’s super soft)
(Sorry, this is super gross)

END!

All I want for Christmas is my WALKING GOAL

GUYS

I HAVE FEWER THAN 50 MILES TO WALK TO REACH MY GOAL OF 5,000 MILES

ALKSDFJALDFAHGDFFDLF

Iron Lungs

This is a really interesting article on iron lungs and the few people who still rely on them to live.

Vaccinate your kids, you turds.

(Yes, I realize that the people featured in this article contracted polio before the vaccine was developed; when I say “turds” I mean the people today who aren’t letting their kids take advantage of this and other vaccines.)

Claudia Ranks the Walking Conditions

HELLO

Today I’m going to give you my thoroughly subjective and only partially thought through ranking of different walking weather conditions.

Because that’s the kind of person I am.

When I’m walking, four main things I consider are 1) sky conditions, 2) active weather conditions (snow, rain, etc.), and 3) ground conditions, and, of course, 4) temperature. Obviously I won’t be touching on every conceivable combination of these things, ‘cause that would take forever and some things (like 90+ temps and snowy sidewalks) don’t even go together. So I’ll just do each of the four components on their own because that’s easiest.

SO HERE WE GO! Best to worst for each.

Sky Conditions
Cloudy
Clouds are ideal when walking. The sun doesn’t get in your eyes and there’s less skin damage going on compared to full sunlight.

Fog
Walking in fog is cool. The only downside is that this usually correlates with colder weather.

Sunny
Sun is…okay. It’s much more enjoyable in winter when it’s cold outside, but in the summer it blows because you need sunscreen and it exacerbates the heat.

Dark (early morning or late night)
Lack of visibility isn’t great.

Smoky
Murdering my lungs isn’t great.

Active Weather Conditions
None
Is the air dead outside? GREAT! Let’s go for a walk.

Heavy Snow
I actually really enjoy walking when it’s snowing its brains out outside. I think I mentioned this in a blog a week or so ago. It makes me feel like I’m trekking through the Antarctic.

Light Snow
Light snow is okay, too. Just not as fun.

Wind
I’ve never liked walking in the wind, no matter what temperature it is. If I’m walking into the wind, I think I change my stride a little bit, ‘cause it always hurts my leg more than it should.

Light Snow + Wind
The snow gets everywhere and it’s hard to keep it out of my ears/eyes/soul.

Heavy Snow + Wind
The snow gets everywhere and it’s hard to keep it out of my ears/eyes/soul, BUT I’m Antarctic Trekking™ so it makes me feel like a badass.

Hail
Luckily I haven’t walked in hail too many times, but it is a weather condition I’ve dealt with, so here it is.

Heavy Rain
The only reason this is as high on the list as it is is due to the fact that “heavy rain” for Calgary usually only happens in the hot summer and only for about 10 minutes at a time. Torrential downpour-style. It’s fun.

Light Rain
SCREW RAIN.

Heavy Rain + Wind
God, no.

Light Rain + Wind
GOD, NO. You want to make me miserable? Make me walk all day in rain when it’s windy.

Ground Conditions
Clear
Ideal! Safest.

Wet
Depending on how wet the pavement is, my shoes have a tendency to give a little bit of a slip with my step, so that’s not too great.

Loose Snow
I like plowing through loose snow, but only if it’s warm enough that my toes don’t freeze.

Packed Snow
Packed snow is okay. I can usually go decently fast over it without the fear of slipping.

Packed Snow Over Ice
A little bit more dangerous, but usually the snow is “sticky” enough that the ice below is not an issue.

Slush
Slush is SO FRUSTRATING. I want to go fast through it but there’s zero traction and my feet are soaking wet by the time I’m done with my walk.

Ice
DANGER, WILL ROBINSON

Loose Snow Over Ice
“I can’t see the ice. Oh never mind, I FOUND IT WITH MY FACE”

Temperature
60℉ – 70℉
This is pretty much the ideal walking temperature. Don’t need a jacket, but also don’t feel like I’m going to get heat stroke.

10℉ – 30℉
I like this temperature range because I know exactly what I need to wear to stay at a comfortable temperature (orange jacket and tights under my winter pants).

80℉+
I really don’t mind walking in the heat too much. I’m super gross after 15 miles in that kind of temp, but it’s actually quite satisfying.

0℉ – 10℉
I still know exactly what I need to wear to stay at a comfortable temperature in this range, but I also worry more about my iPod surviving temps this low for 4+ hours.

40℉ – 50℉
Light jacket? Too cold! Heavy jacket? Too warm! NOTHING MAKES SENSE

< 0℉
I really worry about my iPod in these temps. I worry about my iPod more than I worry about my fingers/toes/nose getting frostbite, so you all know where my priorities are.

END!

TA TA TA-TAS

Nate and I just went on a 10-mile walk in ridiculously cold windy weather. I am very cold.

BUT.

I have a new walking goal idea for next year.

My original goal was to do the Calgary Marathon (which is more of a running goal than a walking goal, but it’s the SAME TYPE OF THING GIVE ME A BREAK). However, back in June or whenever the hell that was, my left knee started throwing tantrums whenever I ran. Pretty sure I had (have?) runner’s knee. Also, y’know, the leg thing.

So my backup goal was to walk the Sinister Seven (which is more of a “this will probably kill me” goal than a walking goal, but it’s the SAME TYPE OF THING GIVE ME A BREAK). However, now that I’ve got this leg thing, I’ve lost confidence in my ability to walk that far on that rough of terrain without re-injuring the leg.

SO.

My NEWEST goal, now, is to walk 100 miles in under 24 hours. This would be done around the city, so there wouldn’t be the rough terrain of the Sinister Seven, and I’m hoping my leg will be back to normal by the time I do this next year so that I won’t even have to worry about re-injury.

I’d say it’s possible; I did 50 miles in 10 hours and 16 minutes, and even with stops to use the bathroom/charge my iPod, my total time was still less than 12 hours. So assuming I can keep up a good pace for that long, I can totally do it.

Try and stop me.

I plan on doing it on the summer solstice so that I’ll have the most daylight possible.

So yeah. Hopefully I won’t have to modify this goal anymore. Though I’d still run the Calgary Marathon if I’m able to by next May.

Yay!

4,000 MILES

YO DAWGZ I just hit 4,000 walking miles for the year!

That’s about 300 more than I did last year, but still 1,000 short of my goal.

Can I walk 1,000 miles in a little less than three months? Surely. I’ve been keeping a pace of 400+ miles a month, even with Injury City, so it shouldn’t be a problem.

Unless the weather tanks. Which it might.

Alberta, yo.

Snoozin’

This is super interesting.

I know I don’t have a sleep disorder, but I’d say I definitely have weird sleeping habits. These get worse when I have no sort of job to help regulate when I sleep and when I get up.

For example, if left on my own, my sleeping schedule tends to shift so that I go to bed between 5 AM and 6 AM and wake up around 10 AM.

I also think I’m pretty unusual when it comes to sleeping in general. I can go from awake to asleep in about three seconds, and it doesn’t matter if I’m lying down or sitting up. I’ll just go out. I feel like I go right into REM sleep, too, without any sort of buildup to it.

It would be interesting to go to a sleep lab or something and get my sleep patterns analyzed.

Injury Update: One Month Later

So it’s been a month since I busted up my leg/knee/whatever. It still hurts and seems to hurt the most when I do seemingly benign things like stand a little bit different than normal or straighten my leg all the way out when I lay down or really weird stuff like that.

Walking is a very slow, tedious, fear-inducing process still. I have no idea what I did to it (doctors are for SQUARES), so I don’t know what might hurt it again (or just make it worse).

I guess I’ll just keep…walking? Hopefully it’ll get better on its own.

FUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU

Pain is just pain leaving the body

More specifically, my leg hurts.

But if you think I’m going to let pain get in the way of my walking goal, you don’t know me.

Hell, I was peeing blood in July due to how much I was walking. Did that stop me? Hell no.

(Sorry, this injury is my life now.)