Tag: fitness

Ten Years of Walking

Ten Years of Walking

“Chains of habit are too light to be felt until they are too heavy to be broken.”

Warren Buffett

I’ve got a habit. I walk, hike and run a fair amount every day. Perhaps my favorite activity is to hike – at some speed between a trot and a gallop. I also love numbers and have used a pedometer to keep track of my miles walked each day for the last ten years: 2012 to 2021. I made spreadsheets each year and have looked at the data trends over each week and each month of a year. This is an update from my previous post Quantifying Hiking and Running Part 1 with eight years of data.

Thus, I have now accumulated ten years of walking data:

Table 1: Yearly Mileage
Year Miles Age
2021 3001 63
2020 4347 62
2019 3174 61
2018 3387 60
2017 3286 59
2016 2754 58
2015 3117 57
2014 3008 56
2013 2634 55
2012 2470 54

Table 1 shows the sum of my walking (in miles) for each month of the last ten years:

YearJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDecYear Total
Table 1: Miles walked per month, 2012 to 2021

I also like to see the cumulative amount I have walked each month over the course of a year. Table 2 summarizes my walking progress each month over the course of a year:

Table 2: Cumulative Miles Walked per Month, 2012 to 2021

The total over ten years is 31,182 miles or 50,186 km. That’s an average of 260 miles or 418 km a month.

A few things worth pointing out:

First, I had my biggest walking year in 2020 – during the COVID pandemic I walked 4347 miles (6996 km). The reason for this high mileage was I entered the Great Virtual Race Across Tennessee 1000K race. In this four month long virtual race, I covered 1907 miles ( 3069 km) from May through August. Another way I covered miles in 2020 was by walking and running every street in my town. One reason I covered many miles was to see what it would be like to hike the Appalachian Trail – a goal of mine that I thought I might do in 2020 or 2021.

Next, for six years I covered was in the 3000 mile (3001-3387 mi; 4829-5451 km) range. I first broke 3000 miles in 2014 and again in 2015. I was able to cover more than 3000 miles again from 2017 to the present. I started trail running in 2017. I was able to complete the Badger Mountain 50 mile race; it was slow and steady. Another 2017 challenge was finishing the Issy Alps 50k, that was far tougher than the Badger Mountain race for me.

In 2018, I tried twice to run 100 mile races: Badger Mountain 100 (69 miles) and Bryce Canyon 100 (81 miles). While I didn’t complete them, I learned much. I still think I may do a 100 mile distance,, however, my current thought would be to walk rather than run. From 2017 to the present, I have had some great hiking, fastpacking and backpacking adventures with my friends.

My favorite year was 2015. I achieved no major milestones in running, backpacking or hiking. What I did accomplish was to recover from surgery on my esophagus to treat achalasia, a rare disease that I have. Achalasia has been a challenge for me. There is no cure or much known about the disease. Thanks to the work of my medical team, lead by thoracic surgeon Dr. Brian Louie, I was able to return to a vigorous life. My view going forward after my January, 2015 surgery has been “carpe diem, quam minimum credula postero” (“Seize the day, put very little trust in the future.”) As an achalasia patient, I am grateful to be able to explore the world by covering as many miles as I can.

I had some low mile years. Why? For 2012 and 2013, the answer was full-time work got in the way of walking. I was able to retire from full-time work in September, 2013. I did some part-time work in 2014 and 2015 as well as attending college to learn biology, From 2016 to the present, I have been active in volunteer work at some non-profits but have much more time to spend outdoors.

My worst year was 2016. It wasn’t the lowest mile year but it was the most annoying. I kept injuring my right knee, then my right hip, then my left knee, then my right knee. I think there were two things that caused these problems. I was running a lot on hard surfaces ( I was training to run the Philadelphia Marathon with my brother). More important, the muscles of my right knee were much weaker than my left knee – which I figured out with the help of my doctor in December, 2016. So, after 2016 I minimized running on hard surfaces, started strength training and switched from cushioned shoes to zero drop trail running shoes. The important lesson for me: Avoid injuries if you want to cover miles.

Figure 1: Cumulative monthly miles for selected years 2012, and 2018 to 2021

Figure 1 illustrates how I’ve done over the last ten years. The bottom set of points are from 2012; my lowest mileage year. The top set of points are for 2020; my highest mileage year. There are three sets of data in a range in between the lowest and highest. These are years 2018, 2019, and 2020.

I want to write in the future about my daily tracking methods – many times the fact that I was behind my goal got me motivated to do more miles. What I do every single day is how I cover many miles in a year. Another useful topic is how walking has affected my health; in general it’s been very positive but I ought to write my lessons learned.

Let me close by thanking all my friends and family who have put in miles with me. I always enjoy the company; hopefully you do as well. Of course, sometimes I have an excessive number of words per mile! Well, I have to dash off now; got a few miles to cover today.

Running my town

I did an interesting project in April, 2020 to keep in shape while staying at home during the COVID-19 pandemic. I ran and walked every street and a few trails in my town of Lake Forest Park, Washington.

I ended up doing 15 runs over 22 days for a total of 159.8 miles. My shortest run was 4 miles and the longest was over 21 miles. The average was about 7.2 miles. Our town has a few hills; my elevation gain was 10,730 feet (about the height of Mount Baker). For every run, I knew the area I wanted to explore but not the detailed path. The first thing I had to do was hike up the hill of our street and decide whether to go right or left?

Which way should I go today?

Along the way, I discovered lots of interesting places in my town and visited areas I’d never been to. I talked to a number of great people (from a distance), discovered some great views, enjoyed the spring beauty and had a lot of fun. Here’s a few images, there are more in my Run LFP 2020 album on Flickr.

The biggest little library I’d ever seen, I found my kind of book!
Creative idea
Wonderful place

The animation shows each days run, the details can be found on my Run LFP 2020 project log.

Quantifying Hiking and Running Part 1

For the last eight years (2012-2019), I’ve been keeping tracking of my daily steps and miles using a pedometer.  I realize there are better gadgets to do this: Fitbits, watches, and phones that will do this job with more data and better graphics. I like to “roll my own” and I thought I would write up what I have been doing. I welcome constructive feedback; my goal is to maintain and improve my fitness as I age through data analysis.

I record my mileage data daily and analyze my results weekly, monthly and yearly.  Here is a link to my monthly and yearly mileage data in a Google Sheets file. In Table 1, I want to look at my mileage results on a yearly basis; I’ve also included my age. I can see that my mileage increased significantly after 2013, one reason for this is a greater emphasis on hiking and running. I can also see a drop in yearly mileage in 2016; this was due to some medical problems that required surgery, I had some months were I couldn’t exercise very much. In 2017 and 2018 I was training for ultra marathons and had increased my annual mileage. I find having yearly goals, such as races or long distance hikes, motivates me.

Table 1: Yearly Mileage
Year Miles Age
2019 3174 61
2018 3387 60
2017 3286 59
2016 2754 58
2015 3117 57
2014 3008 56
2013 2634 55
2012 2470 54

Here’s a summary of the mileage I’ve done month by month. Table 2 provides a monthly view of my mileage.

Table 2: Monthly Mileage
Year Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
2019 301 241 289 242 238 250 273 269 276 280 274 242 3174
2018 318 271 315 252 304 315 272 338 229 301 240 232 3387
2017 256 296 298 259 286 295 288 283 214 291 281 240 3286
2016 187 188 193 215 206 225 238 267 267 305 269 194 2754
2015 245 258 260 244 266 281 247 306 255 250 237 269 3117
2014 224 211 239 206 212 253 282 302 265 267 275 273 3008
2013 210 190 208 229 243 238 256 220 221 209 199 211 2634
2012 147 201 184 192 242 238 245 190 200 213 202 214 2470
Mean 236 232 248 230 249 262 263 272 241 264 247 234 2951

For example, in the first three months of 2016 my mileage was lower than usual, these were months when I was recovering from surgery. Looking at the monthly mileage data, a high mileage month for me has been greater than 300 miles. For each month, I have computed the mean monthly mileage. My mileage tends to be lower in the shorter winter and early spring (December through April); the most likely cause is the dreary Pacific Northwest winters I manage to slog through each year. There are some exceptions such as 2018 when I was training for a 100 miler in the winter and 2019 when I spent time in South America during the winter.

Another way I like to view the monthly mileage data is a cumulative view. Table 3 shows the cumulative monthly data over the course of a year.

Table 3: Cumulative Monthly Mileage
Year Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
2019 301 542 831 1073 1311 1561 1833 2102 2378 2658 2932 3174
2018 318 589 903 1155 1459 1774 2047 2385 2614 2915 3155 3387
2017 256 553 850 1109 1395 1690 1978 2261 2474 2765 3047 3286
2016 187 375 569 783 989 1214 1452 1719 1986 2291 2560 2754
2015 245 502 762 1006 1272 1553 1800 2106 2362 2612 2849 3117
2014 224 435 674 880 1092 1345 1627 1929 2194 2460 2735 3008
2013 210 400 607 837 1079 1317 1573 1793 2014 2223 2422 2634
2012 147 348 532 724 966 1205 1450 1640 1840 2053 2256 2470

The sum of all the yearly mileage is 23,831 miles over 96 months or 248 miles per month. Now, how does this compare to my goal performance?

In 2014, I decided to set a goal of 3000 miles in a year. A yearly goal of 3000 miles works out to an average of 250 miles per month or 8.22 miles per day. Before that, I had goals but they were haphazard. Here are my monthly goals for each year (adjusted for leap years.

Table 4: Cumulative Goal Monthly Mileage
Year Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
2019 255 485 740 986 1241 1488 1743 1997 2244 2499 2745 3000
2018 255 485 740 986 1241 1488 1743 1997 2244 2499 2745 3000
2017 255 485 740 986 1241 1488 1743 1997 2244 2499 2745 3000
2016 255 493 748 995 1249 1496 1751 2006 2252 2507 2754 3009
2015 255 485 740 986 1241 1488 1743 1997 2244 2499 2745 3000
2014 255 485 740 986 1241 1488 1743 1997 2244 2499 2745 3000
2013 255 485 740 986 1241 1488 1743 1997 2244 2499 2745 3000
2012 255 493 748 995 1249 1496 1751 2006 2252 2507 2754 3009

Once I had my goal and actual monthly mileage, I can compute the difference. A negative number indicates that I am less than my goal. Figure 1 shows the cumulative difference from goal over eight years.

Figure 1 shows five trends that are significant to me.

  1. January, 2012 to May, 2014 there is a negative slope: every month my actual monthly mileage was generally less than my goal of 250 miles per month./li>
  2. June, 2014 to December, 2015 the slope is mostly positive; my actual miles were greater than my goal of 250 miles per month.
  3. January to July, 2016 the slope is again negative; this is the period of time when I was recovering from surgery.
  4. mid-2016 until the end of 2018 I have been (mostly) exceeding my goal of 250 miles per month; the slope is positive with a few wintertime plateaus.
  5. For 2019, the slope is still positive but not as steep, I haven’t been traing for ultra marathons; only a trail marathon and lots of hiking

Keeping track of my monthly mileage difference from goal provides me some useful month to month feedback. Of course, I am motivated by numerical metrics; not everyone is. I have discovered there is a quantified self community; that discovery came just a few years ago. I welcome feedback from everyone. It’s good to learn from others!

I find that this feedback, along with yearly specific hiking or running goals such as run a 100 mile race or hike the Appalachian Trail (a 2020 goal) keep me on track and motivated.

In part 2, I will add my daily and weekly hiking and running goals and tracking methods.

Mind over matter: Issy Alps 50k June 2017

Mind over matter: Issy Alps 50k June 2017

“If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter”

My friend Roger and I set out on the Issy Alps course on Friday afternoon 2 June 2017.  My goal was to complete the 50k course while Roger was attempting the much more challenging 100 mile course. We started out from the Mailbox Peak trail head at 5:48 PM. In the picture below, I’m on the left wearing a blue shirt; Roger is on the right.


We were pretty familiar with the route, this was our fourth time up this year. We followed the new Mailbox Peak trail, as we had done before. This is a deviation from the standard Issy Alps course, it does add about 4 miles more. (Just realized this may disqualify me from official completion, may have to do this another time). We took a little less than three hours to head up, wanted to conserve energy for Mount Teneriffe, our next peak. We reached Mailbox Peak at 8:40 PM. Had a great view of Mount Rainier at sunset. I looked through the mailbox and had some lemon GU that had been left there.


We donned our headlamps and ran back down to the Mailbox trail head.  We were feeling pretty good. We did resupply our water from the vehicle; thus, our attempt can’t be called unsupported (but we were pretty close).  It was about 10:30 PM when we left; heading down Middle Fork road and up the Granite Creek trail.  Along this area, we heard gunshots and twice saw vehicles cruising slowly with spotlights. Perhaps some midnight hunting? We went up Granite Creek and found trail and then found the turn back down. (We had missed this on a previous attempt… don’t do that). Headed down and hit the road and went across the bridge. There is construction going on, but it was no hassle to get through.

We crossed the creek with no issues, thanks to whoever added some stepping stones, this is now a lot easier to cross. Headed through some unofficial trail; they were NETTLE-some (there were some stinging nettles that we couldn’t avoid.) Headed upward and hit the CCC road at 1:40 AM. Felt pretty good here, we were able to run the roads down to the Mount Tenerriffe trail head. I felt much stronger than previous attempts. One lesson I learned was to really keep up with nutrition and hydration. I was using Perpeteum and eating my usual baby food and other soft snacks. (I have achalasia – one symptom is difficulty swallowing. )

Reached the Mount Teneriffe trail head at 2:40 AM.  Headed up and did water refill near the base of the falls. We were both using Katadyn Befree water filters. Above the falls, it is a tough climb to Mount Teneriffe.  There was a little bit of snow on the last summit section. We hit the summit at 6:35 AM after a slow, steady slog up. There were two other people up there. Rested a while here. It was foggy, not much of a view. I did see some neat wildflowers, including Indian paintbrush at the summit.


There was still plenty of snow as we navigated down from Mount Teneriffe towards the Talus trail that would take us over to Mount Si.  The snow crust was hard, so no postholing on this trip (unlike a previous attempt when we were travelling on the snow in late afternoon.) Did another water refill along the way. We reached crowded Mount Si at 11:10 AM. My energy was flagging at this point but I knew I needed to rest a bit and get ready for Little Si.


We headed down the old Mount Si trail towards Little Si. I hit a tree root wrong and fell. Ended up with a bruised elbow. I was definitely slowing down but was pretty determined. I wasn’t running any more but still putting one foot in front of another. After all, how hard could it be to go up Little Si…. well, a five year old passed me at one point but I made it up to Little Si summit at 1:55 PM. It was our fourth summit of the day.


We made it to the Little Si trail head at 3:11 PM. Thus, I think I can lay claim to the Slowest Known Time (SKT) for the Issy Alps 50k  at 21 hours and 23 minutes. Roger kept going while I headed home for a shower and a meal. I felt pretty good after the run. The next morning, I joined Roger and ran another 11 mile section of the Issy Alps 100 mile course through Tiger Mountain as he continued his much more challenging adventure.


I learned several important lessons while completing this run (on my fourth attempt).

  1. Do adequate training that includes elevation gain. I was unprepared for the elevation gain on my first attempt and had to bail out on Mount Teneriffe.
  2. Keep up with nutrition and hydration. This was really an issue on my third attempt, I got behind heading up Mount Teneriffe, and it was an issue.
  3. Pay attention to route finding all the way. This isn’t like a race course where you just need to follow trail markers.
  4. Slow and steady works for me. OK, maybe I went too slow this time but I had some margin of energy left. I felt great the next day running with Roger on Tiger.
  5. I need to carry some type of GPS tracking device. I have a SPOT beacon but did not pay for tracking, I’ll need to get that option.

Thanks to Jeff Wright who got me started on trail running last summer. Roger Johnson got me out on some great runs in the last year. Both Roger and Jeff have been my mentors, you don’t learn trail running from a book!  To George Orozco, who laid out this challenging course, thanks – you did a great job.

Finally, I realize I probably need to do the Issy Alps another time because I didn’t follow the exact route. We used the longer (less steep) new Mailbox trail when we started. Also, I don’t have a GPS track for this run because I don’t have a GPS tracker.   Still, I had a great time and this is a course I would like to do again. As I build my skills, I want to work my way up to the 100k and maybe one day the 100 mile course.