LGN 52: Revival

Next.  On a very special episode of “Why We Blog”.

Inside:  Visioning Session; Running Music; JogFM; Mechanics – How many foot strikes does it take to get to the center of your tibia?; Your Story

Statics and Dynamics: Endurance and You

Those were the titles of two engineering courses I took in college.  You would analyze, for instance, a simplified diagram of a suspension bridge and given a certain amount of force or weight you would have to calculate how much force a particular wire was supporting/providing.

It’s amazing how in the gym, loading your body with weight via a dumbbell, kettlebell or barbell and then performing a motion can improve your bioware so much.  I guess it’s more along the lines of how much work you’re doing.  How much mass are you moving over the course of a workout.  For example, there have been Summers where I mountain biked three times a week for three months but never reached a point of fitness that I desired.  Training with Justin for three times a week after three months however I noticed huge improvements.  Weird how that works.

Then again no matter what you’re doing — your favorite recreational activity — it involves more than just, say, your leg muscles.  Still, I think it’s important to do something physical outside of the gym because of the calculations I did in the image below.


If I run for 2.1 miles assuming a 4 ft stride, I will have struck the ground with my feet approximately 2,772 times.  Or 1,386 foot strikes per leg.  I’ve read that when you run, your legs or knees (?) experience a force equivalent to seven times your body weight.

The second line of calculations is for mountain biking.  It’s not accurate at all, but it’s an order of magnitude calculation.

On an exam in an engineering class we had to use dimensional analysis for the following order of magnitude problem:

New York City has a population of about 8 million residents.   How many piano tuners are there in New York City?

Anywhich, on a 1.5 hour MTB ride I’ll pedal approximately 7,200 times.  That’s 3,600 pedal strokes per leg.

That’s a LOT of work.  The word “endurance” makes sense when I think about it that way.

Family Visit

It’s been too long.   I went up to Baltimore today and made abbreviated rounds.  Before I forget I wanted to tell you…

My cousin made zucchini fries.  Oven-fried zucchini fries.  They were really good.  Look up a recipe at your leisure.  Then make some.  Then bring them to my face.  K thanks bye.

Running Music

I got a little rechargeable portable speaker for our runs.  I played music through the iPhone speaker on the run on Thursday.  A good idea but it got muffled, being stuffed in a Camelbak side pocket.  This little speaker I can put in an upper pocket.  Good times.  Let me get to the point here.  Resources for running music.

RunnersWorld, the magazine, has a Spotify account and a few running playlists.  Check it out.

Jog.fm has a neat gadget on their home page.  I think it’ll work well but I have to experiment to find my pace.  You can enter in how long it takes you to run a mile and it’ll suggest a list of songs based on BPM (beats per minute).  That way you can run to the beat, in theory, to some of your favorite tunes.  I tried to be clever and enter a slightly quicker pace than I’ve been managing on our RCoTD runs but apparently my stride is short and more frequent than expected.  I’ll get it, though.

I can’t recommend their iPhone app just yet.  In theory it plays tunes from your iTunes collection.  The reviews aren’t great.  I’m sure they’ll hit the nail on the head soon, though.  Maybe they’ll play music from Spotify in a future update?

Either way the Underground Athlete Run Club of the Damned just got a little more awesome.  You’re welcome.

Visioning Session

Jennell led one at Underground Athlete this past Saturday.  It was great.  Personal without being invasive.  Inspiring and eye opening.

I tend to be a visual thinker so the vision board (below) is a good exercise for me.  Some people are talkers and that’s how they work through their thoughts.  That’s powerful in its own right but there’s something about writing things down or documenting them somehow that makes it — real.

Abracadabra -> I create as I speak.

Because I apparently have no shame I’m going to share my stuff with you.  Well, that’s not true.  I have plenty of shame and I’m always nervous about over-sharing but you know what?  Then we die.  And I seriously doubt that any of you, on your deathbeds surrounded by loved ones will reflect back on your entire life, bracing for your moment of completing your life/mission/work on this Earth and speak your last in a soft breathless voice, “Gary Young was a loser.”

So F it.  Let’s get to it.  Take a look at the image below that I scanned.

I’ll give you one guess what my “Other” is.

Here’s what I learned from this exercise.  My life is mediocre.  Nothing is off the charts wonderful, in my opinion.  I guess this is good news, though.  I’m doing fine.  I’ve got an excellent, stable, solid base from which to make goals or explode into awesomeness.

You can see that at first I put “Community” pretty low.  Being an introvert and on the loner side plus I don’t go out into the community (I was thinking of a neighborhood) doing stuff.  Not like my family or some friends who are always in their neighborhoods trying to improve things or edify people.

Then I realized that Underground Athlete has become an important community for me.  A great bunch of people with a lot of overlapping goals and activities.  That community bumped up a lot of those numbers there.  Family/Friends, Joy/Fun, obviously Health.  I don’t want that to be my only sense of community, though.  I want to branch out into other probably activity-based communities.  Like, it’s not a Church, if you know what I mean, and I don’t want to rely on it to a fault.

But it is a great community of people and I’m glad and privileged that I get to be a part of it.

Vision Board

This isn’t really finished but it’s a good start.  I seem to think that moving is going to help improve the quality of my life in a lot of ways.  Sorry for the low quality, noisy picture.  It’s an iPhone in low light problem.

Declutter (and Relocate)

I used to think that my life would get better every time I relocated.  I thought all of my social, not to mention romantic, fantasies would suddenly materialize.  Then I realized that where I go, there I am.  I have things in perspective, is what I’m trying to say.

I tend to end up in affordable places that are more suited to families.  Affordable means far away from the hip places that are accessible, that have multi-purpose trails all over the place and are clean, well-lit and lively in a good way.

Most importantly, my apartment is symbolically full of clutter.  Just stuff accumulated from years of apartment living.  I live in a one bedroom apartment, but like it’s a studio.  The bedroom is my garage.  I can’t seem to declutter.  I have a few plans in the works but it will still require a lot of effort to pull them off since I can’t just set the contents of this place on fire and be done with it.

I want to call one of those junk hauling/recycling companies, have them come in, point to the bedroom and an area of stuff and say, “Get it outta here!”

I want to come home to a clean, sparse place that allows mental room to breathe and unwind.  Instead there’s stuff everywhere and it takes a lot of mental energy to block out, say, this pile of useless mail and bills.  Wires all over the desk from computers, speakers, MIDI devices and external hard drives.  Just … stuff.

My vision is to live in a place where it’s almost bare.   I want it to look like a museum where space is the norm, accentuated by artifacts of interest.  Guitars that look like they’re on display.  Paintings.  Photographs.  But everything on the walls will either be something I made or something that I use to create.  Then a space for music making, a space for painting, maybe a space for writing.  A space that would be good for having friends over and watching a movie.  I haven’t had visitors here since — uh — when was it.  What year is this?  It was Twenty odd ten?  Probably 2010.  No.  That can’t be true, can it?  Jebus.

It’s a very rare thing.  So I’d like to move to a more central location where I’m not on the outskirts of the civilization of my peers.  Of course, there’s a huge trade-off in the cost of living in a desirable location.  There’s the rub.

So that’s what that “declutter” section is all about.

Inside & Out

That’s mainly the health thing and I’m on track for that.  Physical activity.  Check.  Eating.  90% check, which seems to be working for me.  I might be able to accelerate the progress a bit.  We’ll see.  Recover.  Eh.  Really need to get on that.

I also need to have regular doctor’s appointments and yearly checkups and all that biz.  Bleh.  And massages.  And hot tubs.  New apartment with a soaking tub??

I need to do something about my wardrobe.  I’ve lost a lot of fat/weight.  I’ve probably reached the point where the shape of my body won’t change too, too drastically when I lean out more.  Mmmm maybe.  But I need to make some good sartorial choices.  Clothes that fit right and complement the physique.  I’m tired of looking dumpy and ragged even if it’s partially because a lot of my clothes are too big or loose for me now.  Plus a few good, sharp suits.  Hell yeh.

Oh. The critical thing about the lower right of my vision board is where it says — under the fit dude — “WITNESS MY REVIVAL”.

That’s what I’m talkin’ about.  That’s my motto for 2012.  If it weren’t for the fact that’s in an ad and has a hashtag I’d use it all over the place for myself.

Share & Inspire

I want to add some other things to this section.  Cameras, paint brushes and other media.  The important thing here, though, is the little quote that you can’t see that says, “Montgomery’s style and tone influenced guitarists of all stripes.”

Wes Montgomery was a jazz guitarist.  He didn’t start playing guitar until he was 20 years old.  Apparently, he would practice at night but the sound of him picking the strings on his guitar was too loud for either his baby(?) or the neighbors.  Something like that.  So he started practicing just using his thumb.  From what I know, he didn’t read music.  Yet he became one of the most influential guitar players of all time, no matter what style of music you play or listen to.  Didn’t use a pick and played with his thumb, which allowed him to innovate and play dulcet octaves and chords in ways that have never been done since.  Unfortunately, he died of a heart attack at the age of 45.

He made some amazing music.  No matter if you’re a rocker or folkster or whatever, I’m pretty sure I can point you to a song of his that have you head nodding and toe tapping and lying back with your eyes closed in reverie.

A short life.  A short career.  A talent explored and exploding into potential.

What if I took all the things that I like to do and have some skill at and started being proactive about sharing and/or selling it?  I don’t mean cut-throat profiteering, of course.  Like, what if I collected my fitness related blogs and collected them into PDFs and made them available in collections.  Download for free or get a hard copy for $5.  Something like that.

Prints of paintings and photographs.

Finish writing that kids book for my nephews.  We actually had an impromptu writers workshop about it.  Me and the nephews.  It was fun.  Some feedback I got was, “It was good but it needs a plot and good characters”.  Paraphrased.  Well, do a crap-load of editing, of course, and then do something with it.  Incorporate music in there somehow.

Your Story

But enough about me.  Let’s talk about me talking about you now.

If you get the chance to do one of Jennell’s sessions, take it.  Good stuff.  As you can see above, I like the opportunity to get some clarity on my shenanigans.

Anyone else ever do the Landmark Forum or Advanced Course?  I did that a few years ago.  It’s not the same (Landmark stuff can be very uncomfortable), but Jennell’s visioning session stirred up some things.  Like I said, it was personable and personal but not invasive.

I was talking to a friend today about some stuff and I realized that I was telling my Story (your version of events as told by you, which may or may not be Truth).  Or it was one of my Rackets.  You know those stories that you tell people and no matter how many times you tell it, it always feels the same way.  It feels good if people give you sympathy or attention, but it doesn’t resolve anything.  No matter how people react to your narrative it doesn’t resolve the situation for you.  At all.  It feels like it should.  Like, once you get it out of your system you’ll be whole.  It doesn’t, though.

It’d be like me talking about being just-friended.  I can barely write that sentence without feeling a need to elaborate.  I could tell you stories all day long, if given the opportunity.  Actually, I could tell you the same stories all day long.  I could do that the next day and the next and it would feel like I’d never said it before in my life.  Or all the times I’ve been called nigger, racially slurred or been in racially uncomfortable and demeaning situations.

We all have them.  Raw spots, wounds that don’t heal.  Emotional scabs that we can’t help but pick at.  Favored siblings, infidelities, tomboys, abuse.

You ask any overweight person about their memories or stories and I bet they have some for you.

The question becomes:  how do you heal?

Because these things aren’t just emotional scratches, scars and wounds.  These can easily turn into emotional infections.  That’s what they are.

You think you’re doing fine.  Then your guard drops or something remotely, vaguely similar happens and all of a sudden RIP!!  There it is again.  That weeping wound, the deep gash in your Trust or the fracture in your Confidence.

I think that the only way to deal with it is to keep moving.  If you lose a limb, as a bad example, that limb is always gone.  (I equate the loss of a loved one through death or even a breakup to losing an emotional limb or damaging an organ of your soul, for lack of a better word).  How do you heal from that?  You can tell the story of how you lost your limb and become sedentary or you can get your physical therapy, lean on a friend or professional when you have to, get your prosthesis fitted, and then get moving.  Get on with life.  Live a complete and full life despite having damaged parts.

Once that happens I think that you see yourself as more than the sum of your parts.  More than the sum of your past, even.  You see the big picture that includes the damaged parts and realize that your damage doesn’t define you and your vices don’t define you.  It may have happened, it may be a part of you like a scar, but it doesn’t make you who you are.

There’s a lot of baggage around weight loss (and gain).  I think a lot of people who train and work out and push themselves have made the leap.  To get on with life.  They see themselves not only in terms of the past, not only terms of the present, but in terms of their potential to be whatever they put their energy into.

End scene

Just some thoughts.

But look at me.  Running my mouth here.  What’s going on with you?  What have you been up to?  What are your goals and can I help?

Click here to see all of my LGN (I want to Look Good Naked) and functional strength training posts.


Add Yours
  1. Jennell Evans

    I love the way you write! Very thought provoking stuff, Mr. Gary! Thanks for being willing to share your experiences and thoughts about so many interesting aspects of your life. We learn so much from each other and you inspire me with your words! Also, that Vision Board of yours is pretty dang awesome! (is “dang” a real word?)

    • garyarthuryoung

      Thank YOU, Jennell (and Justin for hosting on the Underground lawn).

      It’s a real word if you use it like a real word. Right?

  2. mvhuff

    Gary, wow – this is really good! I couldn’t make it to Jennell’s session, but your post is like getting a mini-version of it. Very moving also.

    I find your mention of lost limbs very poignant – one thing I learned in college was about the phenomenon of phantom limbs – people who’ve lost limbs can still feel pain as if the limb were still there. I don’t know if you had that in mind, but it really dovetails with your talk of emotional infection (great analogy by the way).

    I feel inspired! I hope I can get to know you at UA (by the way, is the UA RCOTD open to people who can be passed by turles? :D).

    • garyarthuryoung


      Thanks for reading.

      Phantom limb. Brilliant. It fits the metaphor perfectly. That makes a lot of sense.

      There are a lot of paces in RCOTD. You’re welcome to hop aboard. I’ll send you a message.

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