Per the INTRO, and Parts I – V, and VI, VII and VIII tracking and journaling and distilling how I experience the re-insertion into my life/world/country/friends/community/career/etc. has been fascinating. 90% of it has been duh yeah that is wisdom some other cat wrote about or told you and you read and studied and has been proven thematically around human happiness across cultures, religions, ages, etc. and hey man you really didn’t need to spend half a year a world away w/ your fam to come up w/ these nuggets! . . . But I’m one of those experiential knuckleheads who loves the personal translation, the living it, seeing it in the journey . . .
Part IX here we go, spraying on getting out of and back into “shape” as it were . . .
The 5 months we spent traveling were by no means sedentary. I wrote about how in many ways the adventure travel was the workout. Especially with family/kids and the attendant gear and straight dealing. And, when you don’t have a car, well, you don’t have a car! Tons of walking, transport by bike, hauling bags, touring, exploring ruins, swimming — and SURFING. Mixed in, my amazing wife schooling me on yoga, so rad. In many ways even though I knew I was losing my endurance fitness, my body felt amazing, freed from general stresses of 12 months of mountaineering/skiing/cycling/etc. . . . Of course I also experienced a major rib injury surfing, was jacked up GI/internally for much of the trip (and still), had various 40+ year old aches and pains from the sheer rigors of adventure travel moving heavy bags and kids around in tight spaces (neck tweaks, blah, blah) and diff beds all the time and sleep and diet a constant adventure. So, after literally a lifetime (or 3 decades?) of some type of structured and regular athletic training and activity — and the last decade in super endurance adventure athlete zone — what happens when you take 5 months off and then re-introduce. And as a data and biohack geek all the more interesting we are talking about a goon who had quantified and measured just about all of it while running the thing (my body) as close to an F1 race car as possible . . .
Regarding body composition: I lost muscle mass. I gained body fat. Duh. I actually net lost weight (left at ~155 and came back at ~150 and probably varied from that +/- 2.5 pds throughout the trip). Initially on the trip I was doing a ton of surfing and swimming, and also was waylaid bigtime by GI stuff, and boom the diet was super natural very few refined foods and low grains and red meats and massive % of calories from unrefined plant foods (fruits/veggies/legumes/soy/tempeh/tofu) and the proteins and fats were as much eggs and fish and local nuts and avocados as anything just what was around . . . legs got skinny-ish no real bike or climbing this was funny, lost 2.5kg, got a little rounder in the middle, built some more upper body muscle/mass I think. I think I lost 5 pounds off my legs! And it was muscle. My fat traditionally is ass/low back abdo/arms/face?
Aside-ish — I joked many times about the adventure travel diet. Go somewhere and just live like the (skinny) locals and there it is. This is not about image or weight or diet stuff. It is about health and wellness. Yeah, that ripped Laotian or Cambodian is probably NOT going to get cancer or heart disease (seriously, less than 10% of them die from those diseases, while upwards of 80% of Americans DO). Now, that doesn’t mean the ripped or “in shape” american is equally unlikely to NOT get cancer or heart disease or some other bad chronic issue. I’ll pause here on this wormhole, a deeper topic. But fascinating to live it, go native, feel it . . .
Late in the trip, in month 5, I climbed Mt Rinjani. A serious 2 day endeavor. Even if I’d been in great shape this would have been legit. I ended up suffering on the GI front unrelated to cardio fitness but had a great climb/descent on other fronts. I was light. I was fresh. The effort was 2 days. This transcended anything else.
We got home on a Thursday afternoon after 1.5 days of plane/vehicle travel. We were half a world away time zone wise. We survived.
The next day, I did what I’d been dreaming about for months and months, riding my bike. Not a 50 pound rented bike or city cruiser or rando piece of junk (which were all rad in their own right) and not figuring out where I was going or dodging a bazillion other bikes or cars or motos or whatevers and not w/ my fam or anyone else — but getting on a sick piece of carbon fiber and out in norcal on a favorite route on some road or dirt I know and spinning and scopin and zoning and thinking. So I did. And SUFFERED LIKE THE WEAK WILDEABEAST BEEING TORN ASUNDER BY LIONS OR CROCS OR WHATEVER!!!
It was all new again, all of it. It was a reset. This was not a detraining or annual break. I was back to square one or something. All exacerbated physiologically by altitude (I live at 6500 feet, I’d traveled at zero feet) . . . so de-acclimatized and detrained to the max and all that and I should have in hindsight just thrown my bike computer in my jersey pocket and looked at the scenery and 2 months later done some sort of bulk download or something.
For real, if you are / have been an elite endurance athlete and you take more than a month or so off, just forget about performance for weeks if not months and enjoy what you’re doing. It was actually de-motivating to see and feel where I was. I figured it out but there was initial friction. I created a bike computer screen that showed speed, grade, and time and nothing else I had too the power and other deets were self-defeating. I stopped wearing a HR monitor. I ignored power stats. I rode bikes for fun. And it was/is fun. I also hated being fat and slow and scared of routes/hours/miles/climbing that were part of my pre-odyssey game.
So what happened? Well, the jury is still out I think. Many moving parts. What I’ll say is after ~8 weeks something snapped back and how I felt and the numbers (power/time/hr) kinda started to look like some level of just being a fit dude doing stuff. So my answer is it takes ~2 months to achieve something resembling baseline fitness on par w/ what you had after ~5 months off assuming during that 5 months you kinda did stuff / at least moved around on a daily basis. Research says it takes 2X as long to regain what you had vs. time you took off . . . so that says it will be 10 months total to regain what I “lost” in 5 months. Quotes are real here btw, I don’t know the right answer. What is right, what is shape, what is well and fit . . . I’m swimming and running and enjoying “not” being on the bike for the hours and days I might have been in the past. Hey, I can get a sick workout in 60 – 90 minutes!!! You know, the endorphins, the feeling. But yeah as I gain fitness that is already fading the get a lot in a little time — I know the answer is HIT (intensity) and rest days and what not but I’m just not good at that because the activity ideally for me has periods of zen/chill/zone/thinking — interspersed w/ zones of mad physical and mental challenge and interaction w/ nature and adventure and intensity — EVERY DAY . . . (this is why surfing was/is a good thing for me!!!).
Traditionally my natural winter mountaineering zone has driven the right breaks and transitions but it’s all good now wrt the mix of things. I didn’t come back w/ some bike objective in mind and the race season was basically over so that was easy to detach from training hours or objectives or anything else. I had days where working on my yard or restoring bikes or building furniture or cleaning my house were for real all I wanted or needed on the physical activity front. Rad, I don’t want to lose that.
But I also love seeing the nums and straight feeling the buzz now that say yeah I can do that 100 mile/8hr dirt race, huge one day road or dirt stage race, climb and ski the big peak(s) over days, race and roll and challenge at an elite level athletically. And I feel better, all over, for it. What a balance, indeed, we roll.
*In short, om With facebook and twitter and linkedin and social media in general and tech bringing all the deets and wins and losses in your life front and center for all to see(literally and in mad color and photos!!!) it’s enough to make a cat self-conscious or somethin. But the news flash is nobody cares. In a good way. Nobody is trying to hate on you or promote you or whatever based on your digital signature which is just a reflection of your life, etc. This is good — but the net is don’t wig about being perfect digitally or anywhere else for that matter. Yeah there might be some random who sprays this or that about a miss or a win or whatever but for the most part NOBODY CARES. This is good, the peeps who care do care because you touch them and vice versa in ways beyond FB posts or blog posts or whatever. And beyond that thankfully peeps are busy with their OWN lives. The interwebs is not enough to suddenly make us all celebs, laws of attention and time will prevent it. So, consider this your license to get out there and FAIL. Cuz nobody cares, and those who do have your back, and those who wanna hate are busy too :)
Of course the broader backdrop here is when you’re blogging and spraying — being great is the enemy of good. Blog style, good is good enough. Timely and get it out. Novel? Be great. Of course your “just good” bloggin’ might have some issues, and your parents will point them out, they will. Cuz they read your stuff. Others? Not so much :) Hug your parents. They care!