Michael Eriksson's Blog

A Swede in Germany

My depressing loss of endurance

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During the COVID-countermeasure era, I have lost my habit of walking to stay in reasonable “cardio shape”. Yesterday, I set out to break the trend, by going for a long walk, partially in hilly areas.*

*In my estimate, I ended up somewhere in the range 12–15 km. Due to the hills, which make a major difference, this would have been no triviality even in the past, but the comparison of effects is depressing.

The result was not only ample proof of how much I have lost, but also of how many training effects can play in that do not normally register. (There is also the issue of experiences forgotten—like the benefit of ensuring that toe nails are cut and that hydration is kept up before walking longer distances. I dropped the ball on both.)

The first half (give or take) was OK. I did not have quite the drive in my step of the past, but I felt just fine. The second and hillier half saw me run out of energy to the point that I had to stop repeatedly,* caused cramps in my hip muscles and an unusual amount of leg weakness,** left me with sore feet,*** saw me with some bend in the neck and upper back,**** and this, and that. While I have been more tired in individual peaks before, e.g. after taking a long and steep hill at some tempo, I cannot recall ever being so tired for so long before. In particular, I am used to, to some degree, resting and recuperating on flat stretches (while still walking), which simply did not work this time around—instead, I actually had to stop to rest.*****

*Lack of cardio endurance.

**Muscles not used to prolonged stress. Cramping might or might not have been partially due to dehydration, but definitely not entirely, as I have been dehydrated before during such walks without so severe problems.

***Feet not used to that many steps. Some soreness would likely have been present in the past too, but no to this degree. On the upside, and to my surprise, there was no actual blistering.

****Walking does not just hit the legs. The upper back, relating to posture and arm movements, is another important area—and another one no longer used to the prolonged effort. (I do some minor strength training, but that helps little with this type of endurance.)

*****Recuperation, in at least some regards, takes place when the stress on the body falls below some individual level that depends on personal shape. This change, compared to past long walks, might be the single most telling one.

Once back home, I was very unproductive and had the unexpected problem that one of my upper-back muscles cramped very painfully when I tried to stand up. While this cramp did not resurface when I tried again a minute-or-so later, it was another reminder of how many muscles are involved in walking.

Today, unsurprisingly, I woke up to the sorest muscles I have had in many, many years…

On the upside: A sign that I am still far from lost was the last hundred or so meters to my apartment, where I coincidentally shared my route with someone who appeared to be in truly poor shape (but presumably was much less tired): I walked past him with ease, having a considerably higher natural speed even at this stage of exhaustion. When the road turned from flat to steep, for the last section of the journey, I took a break to catch my breath. He caught up and went past me. I crossed to “‘my” side of the road and began the ascent. As I looked back when opening the door, I found that he had managed half the distance, give or take.

Excursion on COVID-countermeasures:
As I have warned for well over two years, the countermeasures do/did more harm than good, including through indirect effects like this one. It is true that my own lack of self-discipline plays in, but I very, very much doubt that my situation of loss of training through loss of continuity is unique. Even if we look just at health, through such and other effects, the countermeasures are bound to have caused a greater loss, including of years-of-life, than COVID, it self, ever could have.


Written by michaeleriksson

August 21, 2022 at 9:52 am

Posted in Uncategorized

Tagged with , , , ,

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